Drummer Mark Schulman, keyboardist Michael Bluestein, lead guitarist Mick Jones, lead vocalist Kelly Hansen, rhythm guitarist and saxophonist Tom Gimbel and bassist Jeff Pilson make up classic rock band Foreigner. The band is coming to the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center on Friday, Feb. 15.
Most popular music fades after a generation, but Foreigner’s hits have lasted for four.
And the classic rock act continues to move forward and attract new audiences, according to saxophonist and rhythm guitarist Tom Gimbel. Most recently, Foreigner has begun inviting high school choirs on stage at its performances to sing along with its 1984 hit ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
“We’re absolutely delighted anytime we’re crossing over generations,” Gimbel said.
For the band’s Feb. 15 performance at the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center, three western Kentucky high schools are competing for the chance to sing with Foreigner.
Choirs from Murray, Graves County and Lyon County high schools have submitted video entries to the Sing with Foreigner Contest, sponsored by classic rock station 94.7 WQQR. The public can vote for the videos until Friday on the station’s website, wqqr.com.
The winning choir will also receive a $500 donation from the band to help support its school’s music program.
Gimbel, who joined the band in 1993, said the song was originally recorded with backing vocals from the New Jersey Mass Choir. Incorporating other choirs for the performance was a natural first step, he said.
“Once in a while we’d have a local church choir or a regional choir sit in with us, and that’s just the way it’s always been. Then, when we heard that schools were cutting music programs, it really touched us,” Gimbel said.
He said the band and manager Phil Carson wanted to make every effort to save music programs in public schools — hence the donation — and have a little fun along the way.
“Once we started doing it, it was so much fun to see the exhilaration on the kids’ faces,” he said. “We’re just delighted that kids want to do it.”
Gimbel believes the band owes its continuing popularity to the talent of its musicians and the enthusiasm they bring to the stage show.
“We feel that this is just an absolute powerhouse of a band that we have, starting, of course, with Kelly Hansen on vocals,” Gimbel said.
Gimbel admired how Hansen entertains and interacts with the crowd.
“He’s completely out of his mind. When we play outside, he climbs the lighting truss. He’ll go 80 feet in the air and wave one arm,” Gimbel said.
While there won’t be much climbing at the Carson Center concert, Gimbel is certain that the rest of the band — guitarist and founding member Mick Jones, bassist Jeff Pilson, pianist Michael Bluestein and drummer Chris Frazier — will please the crowd with their energetic, blues-based rock.
“We’re ecstatic about all these elements. Those are the things that I look forward to every night, myself,” Gimbel said.
Foreigner will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15. Ticket prices start at $35 and are available from the Carson Center box office, 270-450-4444 or online at thecarsoncenter.org. The box office, located at 100 Kentucky Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.
Want to go?
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15
Where: Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center, 100 Kentucky Ave.
Tickets start at $35 and are on sale at the box office, 270-450-4444 or online at thecarsoncenter.org.