McALLEN – Since the day Mick Jones wrote the hit “I Want to Know What Love Is,” he always envisioned a choir backing up the band during the song.
In the original recording there was also a gospel choir.
When Foreigner takes the stage Thursday Feb. 22 at the McAllen Performing Arts Center the band will be supported by the McAllen Memorial Choir during the song.
All this stemmed from Jones seeing a decline in music programs in schools. So with that came the idea of having a school choir sing back up, have them sell some merchandise and allow the programs to keep $500 of the proceeds.
“We thought maybe they [schools] want to have their choir come down and get some experience playing on stage,” Tom Gimbel, the multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, keyboards, sax and flute with the band said. “And in return we'll make a donation to the music program.”
While Gimbel's tenure with group has been roughly 30 years, initiatives like this resonate close to home because of his background in teaching.
Gimbel said working with the Grammy Foundation has helped the band donate to schools that need help keeping their music programs alive.
“If you're going to say well take away the arts, you should also say what about math,” he said. “If you are going to claim that the arts are not useful you also have to apply to the other subjects and be fair about it.”
The collaboration between the band and the choir was quite simple. Through Youtube the Memorial choir sees what they can expect by watching other performances and once they get to the venue the band's crew will make them comfortable with the McAllen Performing Arts Center.
“They literally show up ready to go,” Gimbel said. “By the time the song comes around we just do it live, it's a tremendous shot of adrenaline for us and hopefully everyone involved.”
The band hits the stage at 8 p.m. and tickets are available at ticketmaster.com and begin at $52.