Paschal singers join Foreigner in 'once-in-a-lifetime' charity gig

FORT WORTH -- An internationally known rock band, the mayor and a patio setting in the middle of downtown.

Not bad as a first gig for a small group of Paschal High School choir students who sang backup Monday night for musical group Foreigner at the new Flying Saucer.

The crowd was on its feet singing every word, and Foreigner's lead vocalist, Kelly Hansen, stood with the students as they sang the chorus to I Want to Know What Love Is. After the performance, Hansen ran down to the students offstage for a quick round of high-fives.

"That was just awesome," said senior Katie Lewallen, giggling as her hands shook with excitement. "That really was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing."

Area school choirs submitted videos for a chance to sing backup for Foreigner through a radio contest by KZPS/92.5 FM. Paschal's 11-member group -- a contingent from the school's larger choir -- was selected to sing during the show, which was part of an event to help kick off RaceWeek in Fort Worth and included the lighting of Sundance Square with green LEDs.

Mayor Betsy Price and Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage were among those in attendance.

Senior Nicholas Watson, 18, admitted that he was a little nervous when he showed up for a sound check.

"You get to do something exciting that not a lot of people do," Watson said. "At first, there's a little bit of pressure, but then you get past it and do your best to do what needs to be done for the show."

Hansen joked that he was "too busy being a loner" in high school and wasn't in a choir himself. Had he been, Hansen said, singing backup for Aretha Franklin's Respect would have been amazing as a teen.

Bassist Jeff Pilson, who would have loved to sing backup for the Rolling Stones as a teen, offered some advice for youngsters who want to pursue music as a career.

"If you love music, you have to love everything about it and be willing to give up everything," Pilson said. "But if you listen to your heart, everything will fall into place."

Monday's acoustic concert benefited the Texas chapter of Speedway Children's Charities, which since 1997 has distributed more than $8 million to nonprofit groups in North Texas. A guitar signed by Foreigner sold for $6,100 during the night's live auction, and a serenade performance of Waiting for a Girl Like You went for $9,500.

Foreigner, a wildly popular band in the late 1970s and early '80s with such hits as Feels Like the First Time and Cold as Ice, will also perform before Saturday's Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700

Twitter: @fwstayala