Read this account of our tour by 11th grade student, Mariangie P.
In April 2017, in the place where jazz, rock & roll, and country music meet, Highbridge Voices students were able to immerse themselves in a culture unfamiliar for a bunch of kids from the Bronx. I was one of those lucky students who got to explore Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee.
I woke up bright and early on that April morning with a feeling of nervousness and excitement; this was the furthest away I was ever going to be from my mother. When I got to HBV at 6 a.m., I could tell everyone else was also excited from the conversational buzz going on around me. We got on a plane at Newark Airport and arrived at our first hotel in Memphis in the afternoon. The first thing we did in Memphis was perform for their local news channel, WREG, to advertise our full concert that was happening later on that week. After the performance at the news network, we ate our first (of many) barbecued meals and explored the streets of Memphis. While in Memphis, we also took tours of Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and the Lorraine Motel, where Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. At Graceland, we learned a lot about the life of Elvis Presley and his family. We got to see a lot of memorabilia from his life, including some of the many awards he won as an artist. My favorite part of the tour was seeing his daughter’s childhood room and the horses in his backyard. But my favorite part of the entire trip was the tour of the Lorraine Motel. You could tell that everyone around felt the impact of the moment; there was a feeling of reverence all around us, especially watching the film about King’s life.
The last thing we did in Memphis was perform our concert at Saint John’s Episcopal Church. There were a fair amount of people there that had traveled to see us because of the performance on the news network. We were so excited and honored that people made the effort to see us after just a three minute clip of on the news. Many audience members complimented our singing and even said that the performance moved them.
The next morning, we were on our way to Nashville. In Nashville, we stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, the largest resort without a casino in the country! The resort was huge and I got lost multiple times. Nashville is a very colorful city full of country music and honkytonk. Within the span of about three days, we ate much more barbecue, went to the museum of country music, learned to line dance, and performed another concert at Tusculum Hills Baptist Church.
At the end of a very long week, the trip was over. I really wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Tennessee. I remember sitting on my bed at the hotel dreading the moment when Ms. Nikita would knock on our door to tell us that it was time to load up the bus and get to the airport. But all good things have to come to an end, so we loaded our stuff and got on our flight. Despite being sad to leave, I got home with a large smile on my face, cherishing my memories. Surely this was a spring trip I would remember forever.