Rave Revue, the Ravenswood High School Show Choir, has been selected as the grand prize winner in First Lady Cathy Justice’s “Songs for West Virginia” Show Choir Contest.
The First Lady invited all high school show choirs to compete by performing a song about West Virginia.
When First Lady Justice heard Rave Revue’s rendition of “My Home Among the Hills,” she said, “It makes me so proud to see such a wonderful group of young people use their talent to sing a song about the place I love. Singing is just one way that students can enrich their lives through the arts.”
Rave Revue will be awarded $500 as part of a partnership between the Office of the First Lady and the Department of Arts, Culture, and History. Curator of the Arts Randall Reid-Smith said that Ravenswood High School has a long-standing tradition of producing excellent show choirs, spanning some 40 years.
Rave Revue will be invited to perform their song for the Governor and First Lady on West Virginia Day, June 20, at the Culture Center in Charleston.
On special holidays, the First Lady’s Student Artist Series hosts art projects for students that involve creativity and promote the importance of the arts within schools throughout West Virginia.
Ravenswood show choir instructor Renee Harley Knapp said Rave Revue filmed a performance of the song and submitted it to the contest.
“We recorded the video for submission in my home church (First Presbyterian Church of Ravenswood). We went over there for the sound and because of the construction noise on school campus,” she said.
It would turn out to be poignant moment, Knapp said.
“It was a bittersweet time because once we were over there, the students realized it would likely be the last time singing with our seniors who are graduating,” she said.
Knapp said she has always been fond of the song. It was one Rave Revue used in its spring concert.
“For me, pulling the song off of the shelf and preparing it for our spring concert brought back lots of memories of singing in classrooms here in Ravenswood growing up. One of the things I love about the song is that the lyrics talk about things you miss when you are away from home as I was for 21 years,” she said.
The song was written by Clarksburg-native E.W. “Bill” James as part of a play to celebrate the state’s 100th birthday in 1963. The lyrics evoke images and sentiment for the state James loved.
“The call of the whippoorwill, waterfalls, mountain rills, scarlet trees, and robins singing, flashing streams, and fields of daffodils – the lyrics are so scintillating,” Knapp said.
The award puts a cap on Renee’s first year as director of Rave Revue.
“Winning grand prize to honor the state in song feels like the perfect way to close out my first year at Ravenswood High School. The students and I are very honored,” she said.