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Corrigan Times - Local News

Copyright 2017 - Polk County Publishing Company


Extraordinary Talent: High school student displays gifted musicianship


By Beverly Cockrell

CORRIGAN – Our community may be small, but the talent within it is enormous. As a high school teacher, I have been blessed to witness a great deal of this talent first hand. We have students with amazing academic and creative aptitude from music to art to sports to culinary art to welding to beekeeping. Each and every student has a unique gift and sharing their stories and their dreams only makes our community – our world – better. It is with pride I share another of these stories. Chloe Johnson is a young lady of phenomenal abilities. Her mom definitely agrees. "She is a young lady of many talents," said Mrs. Eleby of her daughter, Chloe. "I listen to her practice every single day. I know the hard work she puts into it, and I am very proud of what she has accomplished. One proud mother," stated Mrs. Eleby. A sophomore at Corrigan- Camden High School, Chloe has attended C-CISD essentially her whole life. She lives with her mother Yarnelle Eleby in Moscow. Her father, Maurice Johnson, lives in Houston. "I love all kinds of things but more especially music, dancing, and my animals," said Chloe. "I also enjoy playing gigs alongside my dad and my brother at trail rides and other events." Chloe has always loved music. She joined the music program in elementary school and eventually the high school band. Music has always played a big part in Chloe's life, but when she was eight years old, Chloe's dad introduced her to the accordion and she was smitten. Her dad is a Zydeco player and she inherited the love of not only the accordion but of Zydeco music from him. "My dad plays in front of crowds - sometimes restaurants or other events – and I would go with him and sometimes play as well, " said Chloe. So, playing alongside her dad and with him provided Chloe with a great deal of experience performing before people or crowds. She has little or no issues with "jitters" or nerves. Performing is almost second nature to her. This confidence coupled with experience and no-how enticed her dad to "sign her up" earlier this year for a statewide accordion contest young accordionists called "The Big Squeeze." He entered her in the Cajun and Zydeco category. If she got in, she would play before a live crowd at a venue in Houston. According to the website "The Big Squeeze Statewide Accordion Contest Finals and Concert" is a contest held at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. It is free and open to the public.The event is free and open to the public and will be held outside on the Lone Star Plaza or in case of rain inside the museum. The website states, "This is the 11th year for the statewide program that supports up-andcoming Texas musicians who are 21 years of age or younger. The contest is one of the ways in which Texas Folklife carries out its mission to preserve and present Texas's diverse cultural heritage. The contest recruits players in all genres of the Lone Star State's accordion- based music." The Texas Folklife website states that it is "a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State, and is designated by the National Endowment for the Arts as the Folk & Traditional Arts organization for the state. For over 30 years, Texas Folklife has honored cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences." "This spring Texas Folklife held 8 Big Squeeze talent showcases in communities throughout the state to search for young accordion talent. Showcases were held in the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas, Houston, Southeast Texas, Dallas and San Antonio so that the squeezeboxers could display their accordion skills at public performances in their communities." Six judges who are music professionals located in or around the specific communities convene at these showcases to judge contestants on their "technical proficiency—skill in playing, and technical and musical accuracy—as well as their song interpretation (stylistic choices, innovation, and originality) and stage presence." The 6 judges represent a variety of Texas-based accordion genres. One of these showcase competitions was held in Houston. "First, we went to Houston to a café' and played before some people. They told me they would announce it April 6. On April 6, my dad called me and said, 'I have some good news. You made it to the finals.' I was half asleep," said Chloe. Chloe was one of four finalists in the entire state in the Cajun/ Zydeco category. Thursday, April 20, Chloe and her family, including her brother Tyler, headed to Austin. "After our free tour of the museum (Bob Bullock Museum), we headed to the Holiday Inn Express and an 'all expenses paid' trip," said Chloe. Saturday, April 22, Chloe performed at the Big Squeeze Finals and Concert. Her brother, Tyler, played the drums for her at this event and at the local event. Despite not capturing the Grand Prize Winner title, Chloe and her family were overwhelmed and delighted to perform in Austin in front of many admirers. Such an event presents a tremendous opportunity for Chloe and her entire family.


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