BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Some Bossier High School student musicians just got a rare invitation to perform in Harlem.
Now, through gigs and sponsors, the jazz band is working to raise money for the trip to New York City's historic Apollo Theater.
The students have been invited to perform there the afternoon of April 9 as part of the New York City Jazz Festival.
"The opportunity to be on the stage that a lot of famous artists, legends, have been on, performed on, got their start on or just performed. I'm speechless. I still can't believe it," Bossier High senior Devon King said.
The band that has been invited was started four years ago by King, who is part of the Bossier City school's talented arts program.
"Music, to me, music is everything to me," King said. "Jazz is, it's kind of like home."
That program gave him the opportunity to start the band and learn new lessons.
"The talented arts program is a program that gives us an opportunity to address these kids' talent in a way; otherwise, they wouldn't have private lessons," said Deb Webb, one of the teachers for the Bossier talented arts program.
King, who has been playing music for 10 years, is self-taught.
He wasn't in band until Chris Hand, the band director at Bossier High, heard King playing while the youth still was in middle school.
You can see and feel the music through King when he plays.
When asked what he is thinking while he's playing, King said: "Color."
Word of the talent in the young group somehow got to New York City. That led to a call from someone with Manhattan Concert Productions.
"She was wondering if they would be interested in coming to the Apollo," Webb said.
Now Hand and six students will head to New York City to perform during the New York City Jazz Festival. They'll be the only group there from Louisiana.
"Them going to New York to do it in front of a couple of thousand of people on one of the biggest stages in the world. That's huge. That's really big," Hand said.
The Apollo is the biggest stage they'll have performed on, mostly because of its history and connection to jazz. Ella Fitzgerald got her start there and Duke Ellington also took to that stage.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance," Webb said.
It will be a four-day trip to New York City; they will perform on the Apollo stage the afternoon of April 9. The band will have 30 minutes to perform.
"Just the idea of being invited, that's a big honor to me too - so, and being with the rest of the group at the same time, It's like bringing the whole family," said band member Jonathan Castillo, a senior at Bossier High.
While in New York, the students will have the opportunity to study with jazz professionals all day April 8. And they'll get to see the Broadway musical, "Cats" that night.
Donations toward the band's trip can be mailed to:
Bossier High School Band
777 Bearkat Drive
Bossier City, LA 71006
MEMO: New York Trip
If you're interested in booking a performance from the group, send email to Chris Hand at email@example.com or to or Deb Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.