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Local voices join Foreigner in Shelton

The 1970’s rock icons Foreigner arrive in town to rock with local voices. Photo credit:

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Generation X grew up on the music of British-American rock behemoth Foreigner. We know every word to such massive hit singles as "Cold as Ice," "Double Vision," "Juke Box Hero," and "Urgent" among others. When these songs appear on classic radio, they're as enjoyable now as they were a generation ago. Since Foreigner's eponymous debut album in 1977, the band has racked up record sales of over $80 million. It has nine top-10 singles to its credit, but even that leaves out enduring singles (like "Dirty White Boy" and "Head Games") that only charted. Then there's their biggest hit, "I Want to Know What Love Is," which went double platinum in America after topping the charts here and in half a dozen other countries. Buoyed by the joyous harmonies of the New Jersey Mass Choir, assisted by the Thompson Twins and Dreamgirls star Jennifer Holliday, the song endured as Foreigner's signature tune and one of the best-loved radio hits of the mid-1980s.

Let's be honest. Ordinarily a regional paper like the Weekly Volcano couldn't get within a country light-year of interviewing any member of Foreigner, despite the fact that over two dozen official members and numerous touring performers have participated over the years. We're talking about concert demigods from a time when arena rock stars never tweeted with fans. Luckily for you, however, this paper has an ace up its sleeve. We know someone who'll be singing with Foreigner at their upcoming appearance at Little Creek Casino. It's our good friend Heather Matthews, and apparently, Foreigner has been waiting for a girl like her.

Matthews is a member of Olympia Choral Society, a community organization led by Pacific Lutheran University graduate Terry Shaw. "Apparently," Matthews explained, "on every stop on their tour, they (Foreigner) contact local choirs as part of their music outreach, and the first choir that replies gets to sing the chorus on ‘I Want to Know What Love Is.' They emailed Olympia Choral Society, and we responded. Then I got an email from the director saying, ‘First 25 folks who respond get to go sing with Foreigner.'" Matthews pounced. With less than a third of the choir participating, I asked her if she'd lost friends this month. "Many of the people in the choir are older," she replied, laughing. "Foreigner is not from their generation, so they're like, ‘What the heck is this?' But people my age are like, oh yeah, ‘Hot Blooded!'"

"I think we're going through the song once," she added nervously. "We have to be there at five, and the house opens at seven. They'll probably do it during sound check or warm-up. It's a pretty easy harmony, so we'll be fine. And everybody who's going knows the song. I'm really excited about it. This is the first time I've done anything professional, beyond singing with a symphony. It's definitely the first rock show I've ever done with somebody famous, so it's something to put on my musical resumé." The choir members won't be paid as such, but a grant will go to Timberline High School, at which Shaw is a chorus and weight-training teacher, through the Grammy Foundation program Music Cares. "They're big supporters of music in schools and communities," Matthews added. "I wish I was gonna continue on tour with them, but I'm gonna be really amazing. I'm gonna look hot, so they might take me along."

Heather Matthews, you're our jukebox hero.

FOREIGNER, 8 p.m. Sat., July 9, Little Creek Casino Resort, 91 West State Route 108, Shelton, $75-$100, 800.667.7711

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