March 2023: "Who I Want to Be"
Who I Want to Be
Coty Raven Morris, Arr. Saleel Menon
SSA & piano
BriLee Music (BL1217)
Submitted by Matt Carlson
Children & Community Youth R&R Chair
Choral music is a powerful art, building character, confidence, and self-worth in its singers. Coty Raven Morris’s “Who I Want to Be” is an excellent way to create this experience for your choirs. This is an accessible piece for choirs of all ages and ability levels, and will leave a lasting impression on singers and audiences alike.
Morris wrote this piece for her high school choir in the fall of 2020. In her notes, she explains that her students “were struggling to cope with the civil unrest around them, in addition to the pandemic. …In our time of focus on our building of community and citizenship, this text and tune came to mind – each phrase highlighting an element of personal and community wellness.”
“Who I Want To Be” begins with this beautiful text and tune in a lilting 6/8 meter. The choir sings this melody in unison, followed by SSA harmonies with excellent voice leading that lend themselves well to sightreading on solfege. Arranger Saleel Menon provided this harmony as well as the artfully crafted piano accompaniment.
The magic moment of the piece is its middle section. The choir layers fragments of the melody as mantra-like accompaniment, while soloists share their own spoken affirmations. Morris provides words that her students created at Crosby HS in Crosby, TX:
Allow yourself grace. I believe in myself – love your truth.
I am persistent. I’m lost, just waiting to be found.
I am fragile, not broken. It’s okay to not be okay.
The only validation I need is my own. I love and I am loved.
Morris encourages borrowing from these mantras, or inviting our singers to share their own. Imagine the impact that moment would have with your choir, not only in performance but as a pivotal moment in the rehearsal process. Creating a safe space where you can have conversations about social/emotional/intellectual wellness is an incredibly rewarding experience for our singers.
“Who I Want to Be” is one of those special pieces that can help students break out of their shell, let their voice be heard, and cultivate a deep connection between choral music and their own personal growth. It is sure to have a meaningful impact on their lives, and keep them coming back for more!
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