Pearl-Cohn students reach new heights with music - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Pearl-Cohn students reach new heights with music


What started as a project in music class has turned into something much bigger. Students at Pearl-Cohn High School, with the help of their Grammy-winning teacher, put a new spin on an old song.

Now, their voices are being heard on the radio and by thousands of people online.

One of the most talented teams in music came together - producers, videographers and singers - but not in a swanky studio on Music Row. It's at one of Nashville's oldest institutions.

"Pearl-Cohn is a great school. It's more than what the people make it seem," said student Vincent Zirker.

Stories of guns on campus, fights and low test scores have given the high school a bad reputation in recent years, but that's all changing thanks to these students and their overnight hit.

Led by Grammy-winning teacher and producer Cedric Caldwell, their simple Black History Month project reached heights even he couldn't imagine.

"I wanted to teach the kids Lift Every Voice and Sing, and I thought about the idea of We Are the World from 1985," Caldwell said.

Incorporating every discipline at the school, the students used the same concept to create their own unique twist to an old Negro spiritual, and they even shot a documentary about the project.

"It's just amazing what these kids can do," Caldwell said.

The result is a stirring rendition, moving listeners from Legislative Plaza to local radio.

"It's emotional to see what it became and to see how good it turned out," said student A'mari Simmons.

Students and staff hope this simple song will help usher in a new era for Pearl-Cohn.

"Our kids produced something that's outstanding. The caliber of this is way up," said Executive Principal Sonia Stewart. "They are changing the conversation about Pearl-Cohn."

In 2011, Mayor Karl Dean introduced a new program at the school geared towards the music industry, from production to songwriting.

According to school officials, Pearl-Cohn is the only entertainment magnet high school in the nation.

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