Suffolk singer delivers honorable solo

Published 10:46 pm Friday, December 8, 2017

A Suffolk high school senior delivered an exceptional performance at a prestigious conference for singers across Virginia.

Te’Wan Hailes, 18, of King’s Fork High School was selected to represent his school at the Virginia Music Educators Association Honors Choir performance during the Annual Professional Development Conference held Nov. 16-18 at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs.

Hailes was one of 100 selected for the performance, out of more than 700 that auditioned for one of the highest achievements a choral singer can achieve in his senior year of high school.

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He said that the honor really hit home when he talked to Robin Duncan, choral director at Churchland High School, where he transferred from this school year. She’s his “chorus mom” and one of his closest mentors, he said.

“She said I was her first (male student) that made it,” he said. “I was kind of emotional, being that I was her first guy that made it. That made it special.”

Duncan has been teaching Hailes for two years and has seen him develop into a tremendous performer, she said.

“He has just really blossomed,’ she said. “He’s the perfect example of hard work paying off.”

Things got even more interesting when he joined the other honor performers at their first rehearsal and found a smiley face on his name card. That meant the conductor had randomly selected him to perform a solo part in “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” by Moses Hogan.

He said that it was daunting at first, learning a surprise part in just a few rehearsals. But the smiles on faces in the audience as he began to sing quickly killed the butterflies in his stomach.

“It was great, actually,” he said.

Hailes said his love for music and singing traces back to his mother, BrenA’s, side of the family. Many in her family have musical talents, and even his late grandmother, Brenda Hailes, encouraged him to sing at Holy Trinity Church in Portsmouth, where he was living at age 5.

He said he can still remember singing in his small lavender tux, complete with hat and cane.

“Every time someone shows me that picture I just laugh, because I can remember wearing that outfit,” he said. “It’s so vivid in my head.”

When he transferred from Churchland High School to King’s Fork High School this fall, that sharp memory helped him learn the songs he needed for advanced choir practice in just a few days.

“I practice every moment of the day, honestly,” he said holding a phone filled with classical tracks he expects to perform in the near future. “It’s a comfort zone for me.”

He said he plans to maintain an intense schedule that alternates between advanced choir and track team practices at King’s Fork High School to attract scholarships after he graduates.

“I want them to look and think, ‘He’s really good at this, and he also has the bonus of this,’” he said about his college prospects. “With track and music together, I’m in a whole other world, and nobody can take me out of it.”