In three short years, an idea for a children’s choir in Rexburg has grown to concerts with stars like Jenny Oaks Baker, a video with David Archuleta and now a news story about one of the choir’s recent music videos on NBC Nightly News.
Ben Watson started the choir after moving to Rexburg to start a new job. He had been a choir teacher in Montana and missed working with kids. He didn’t see a children’s choir for his kids to join, so he decided to start one himself. Soon, the choir had 100 (more at times) singers in Rexburg and Idaho Falls, a sold-out Christmas concert and videos on the choir’s YouTube page.
When the pandemic hit, Watson decided to continue with the choir. In May, he came up with an idea he wasn’t sure would work. He wanted to film each singer individually on a green screen and edit them together so they looked like a regular choir.
“I know how to do it with one person and one video track but is it possible to do a green screen with 100 different video tracks? That was the question. 100 different people, then place them all virtually next to each other on the same background,” he said.
He tested it out with his own equipment and children and quickly realized he didn’t have the resources. When he contacted his video producer in Utah and told him the idea, he was willing to try it and it worked.
Watson says the kids learned “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” from “The Messiah.” He set the expectation high when they started to meet in September. After seven weeks of practice, the singers were ready, and they started recording the video. He says out of 100 kids, they only had to do a handful of reshoots.
“They did a great job,” he said. “It took a level of dedication that’s not typical in a choir.”
It took about seven hours to record each of them. Then, after the final edits were put on, they posted the video on November 25 on their YouTube channel. Watson says Lester Holt, from NBC Nightly News, saw the video and had his team contact Watson. On December 13, Watson and the choir were featured on the Sunday broadcast where millions of people watched across the country. He says now Inside Edition has also contacted him.
“When I put out the call for singers to come and join me for our first rehearsal I said my vision was to bring the music to a global stage, and I really meant it,” Watson said.
The choir now has seven videos on YouTube that have been seen around the world. He says he’s not worried about how many views each video gets, but that the music gets to the people who need it. But it is fun to get noticed by people like Lester Holt.
“I think it underscores the fact that we’re doing something special here in Eastern Idaho with these kids in Rexburg,” he said.
The choir’s second Christmas video released this year is Alan Jackson’s “Let It Be Christmas.” Instead of a green screen, the kids were brought into the Rexburg Tabernacle Civic Center 50 at a time, socially distanced, and recorded in two waves. This video got the notice of Jackson who wrote on his social media, “Thank you to the Rexburg Children’s Choir for performing this beautiful rendition of my song Let It Be Christmas!”