Valley native performs at the Kennedy Center


clint pacheco image

Clint Pacheco, middle, poses with Tennessee State University National Student Exchange coordinator Barbara Kannard, left, and TSU Choir Director Diana Poe, right.

Backstage at the Kennedy Center, Clint Pacheco had only seconds to slip on his choir robe before the lights went back up. He performed with the Tennessee State University Choir before a live studio audience that included President Barrack and Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Paul McCartney at the 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala on December 4.

According to Kennedy Center Honors, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors recipients are singer and songwriter Merle Haggard; composer and lyricist Jerry Herman; dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Jones; songwriter and musician Paul McCartney; and producer, television host and actress Oprah Winfrey.

Pacheco, a Monte Vista native, and Adams State College senior, said the choir performed "I'm Here", from the 2006 musical, The Color Purple. Winfrey, a TSU alumna, was "shocked" and "surprised" when they mentioned the choir. "It was only fitting for the choir to sing at the Kennedy Center since she was being honored."

During the fall 2010 semester, Pacheco studied at TSU as part of the Adams State National Student Exchange Program. Originally, the TSU choir was kept in the dark as to the nature of "a big secret event", but when they had to sign release forms for security reasons since the president would be in attendance, they knew where they would be performing. "It was such an honor and now this will be the event I will remember forever."

Backstage, working with "big names" like John Travolta, Barbara Walters, Chris Rock, and Jennifer Hudson was a "lot of fun" for Pacheco. "Oprah and the president as well as other honorees out in the audience made that night a true blessing."

Pacheco said being on stage was a "blast" and he did not feel nervous, except when his robe gave him "issues" in the 45 seconds before the lights went on for the choir's performance. "I managed to put on the robe and zip up a second before the lights came on, so I was relieved and ready to sing." He said watching stage hands move entire sets in less than two minutes between acts was amazing. "Everything is extremely fast paced and professional."

The Kennedy Center Honors Gala was televised December 28, on CBS. "I was ecstatic afterwards when we were escorted back to our rooms and watched the rest of the show on the television they had in there for us."

By Linda Relyea