Reality TV singer leads DeKalb school choir

 Reality TV singer leads DeKalb school choir

Dozens of students, parents and teachers gathered at Ivy Preparatory Academy’s Kirkwood (IPA) campus for the school’s holiday concert “When Genres Collide” on Dec. 17 and 18. 

The performances were led by IPA Music Director Ian J. Knighton who was formerly chosen by judges in Sacramento, Calif. to be a contestant on The X Factor, a British reality talent show.

Ivy Preparatory Academy students dress for pajama day.
Ivy Preparatory Academy students dress for pajama day.

The classically trained singer performed original compositions with more than 200 of his students and coworkers Tulani Prince-Brackett and Rashell Frazier.

This is Knighton’s first year directing the music department at IPA.

He said the students have “proven to me that being a musician and being a singer is important.”

The holiday program featured dancers who performed for teachers, students, parents and administrators.
The holiday program featured dancers who performed for teachers, students, parents and administrators.

Before taking the position at IPA, Knighton worked in behavior therapy and said he “didn’t want to teach music anymore.” 

He added, “This opportunity was presented to me and I decided to take it and it’s the best time of my life.”

Knighton became a household name in 2009 when he landed a spot on BET’s Sunday Best music competition and The X Factor on the Fox television network.

Knighton’s holiday show at IPA combined voices from Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy and Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls for the first time in a mass choir. 

Knighton’s holiday show combined voices from Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy and Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls.
Knighton’s holiday show combined voices from Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy and Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls.

The students performed what Knighton called an “operetta” of songs in English, Latin and German. 

One of the contemporary songs featured holiday lyrics over Grammy-winner CeeLo Green’s hit Forget You. Another tune featured an international twist on the Temptations’ classic Silent Night.

The students have been rehearsing and learning choreography for the show since October.

Knighton said he wants to continue to work with the students and teach them to appreciate music. 

“It has been my vision since I got here to have a Saturday arts academy that will incorporate music, theater, dance and drama. I want to have an arts academy because I’m changing students next semester and I want them to continue on,” Knighton said. 

Knighton teaches his students how to read and compose basic rhythms, and sing with wide mouths so that every syllable is heard with perfect diction.

Rashell Frazier, vice president of the parent leadership organization, led a song during the holiday program.
Rashell Frazier, vice president of the parent leadership organization, led a song during the holiday program.24

He added, “Not only are my students trained in singing but they’re trained in the education of music —history, rhythmic patterns, writing music, singers voice and all of the body parts, that’s the most important thing in training a singer.” 

Knighton began singing in front of audiences at age 4 in Cuthbert, Ga. He performed gospel songs in his neighborhood church in grade school and sang opera by age 17. “I was asked to enter a literature and arts competition in high school and performed an aria in German,” he said in a statement. “I knew nothing about the language or reading music. I was surprised when I won the contest.”

Knighton said the win inspired him to study music at Albany State University where he continued to pursue his passion as he worked as a music and special education teacher in his hometown.

Knighton continues to perform as a singer. He has appeared in numerous stage plays with professional artists including two-time Grammy Award winning gospel star, Jacky Clark-Chisholm, of The Clark Sisters; hip-hop singer Tamika Scott from Xscape; and 1990s R& B superstar, Christopher Williams, a stage and screen actor. 

He is currently working on a solo project – a contemporary Christian album.

 

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