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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

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It’s all a blur

Junior Jack Mullen performs on stage with Lil Durk at Drake, J. Cole concert
Junior+Jack+Mullen+%28back+row%2C+seventh+from+the+left%29+smiles+with+American+rapper+Lil+Durk+and+the+Center+of+Creative+Arts+children%E2%80%99s+choir.+Prior+to+the+choir%E2%80%99s+performance%2C+Durk+introduced+himself+to+the+students+and+thanked+them+for+assisting+him.+%E2%80%9C%5BHe%5D+walked+down+and+shook+each+of+our+hands.+We+got+pictures+and+talked+with+him.+It+didnt+feel+real.+Hes+just+a+guy%2C+but+at+the+same+time%2C+his+music+is+so+special+to+a+lot+of+people.+The+fact+that+we+got+to+interact+with+the+body%2C+mind+and+spirit+of+the+person+whos+making+this+art%2C+thats+cool.+We+felt+welcomed%2C%E2%80%9D+Mullen+said.%0A
J.J. Jones
Junior Jack Mullen (back row, seventh from the left) smiles with American rapper Lil Durk and the Center of Creative Arts children’s choir. Prior to the choir’s performance, Durk introduced himself to the students and thanked them for assisting him. “[He] walked down and shook each of our hands. We got pictures and talked with him. It didn’t feel real. He’s just a guy, but at the same time, his music is so special to a lot of people. The fact that we got to interact with the body, mind and spirit of the person who’s making this art, that’s cool. We felt welcomed,” Mullen said.

On Monday and Tuesday, surrounded by 22,000 screaming fans packing every available seat at the Enterprise Center, Canadian rapper Drake and American rapper J. Cole took the stage to perform two sold-out shows of their wildly successful “It’s All a Blur Tour — Big As The What?” The concert, featuring a setlist full of both artists’ newest songs and biggest hits, was filled with pyrotechnics, impressive light displays and lots of memorable moments for the audience. 

But for junior Jack Mullen, those two nights were especially memorable. Performing alongside 14 other members of a children’s choir, all aged between seven and 18 years old, Mullen sang with the tour’s opening act, American rapper Lil Durk, for his song “All My Life.” 

At first, due to the sudden notice from his vocal coach, Mullen was suspicious of the opportunity’s credibility. 

“I got a message from my vocal coach saying that there was an opportunity the Saturday before [the show], two days in advance. I thought it was a scam [or] a prank, and [my vocal coach] got hacked,” Mullen said. “Then, I texted him, and it was verified. I was elated because I’m such a fan of Drake and J. Cole and the culture and stigma that follows them.” 

The recruitment process of the choir was through Mullen’s vocal coach Phil Woodmore. After receiving an email from the tour management team about their need for a children’s choir on stage, Woodmore contacted many of his students at the Center of Creative Arts, Mullen included. Once the students were selected for the choir, they worked efficiently to prepare for the concert over the span of two short days. 

“We had a 30-minute rehearsal [on] Sunday, and then [on] Monday, we showed up for the sound check. We got on the stage, ran it once and then did it for the show,” Mullen said.

Seeing the stage for the first time during the sound check elicited many reactions from Mullen and the rest of the choir. 

“It felt fake because there was no one in the seats, but all the sets were out. It felt like we were just tourists. The difference between the empty seats and the set versus everybody is so different. It doesn’t click until the show,” Mullen said. “[During the performance], I thought it was just funny that this happened all of a sudden. I’m seeing all these people that I know, and I see Lil Durk up there, looking across at us, telling us to sing. It’s just funny. I don’t know why, but I had to laugh.” 

The choir received the opportunity to perform on both nights of the St. Louis shows, allowing Mullen to witness a change in audience dynamic as well as the choir’s confidence in a limited amount of time.

“[On] night two, the crowd was much crazier, but [on] night one, it was all nerves. On night two, we were prepared [and] ready to vibe. We knew what we were doing. Even though it was [only] twice, we felt like pros, and we felt like [a] part of the musical family,” Mullen said. 

Prior to the performance, Mullen’s history as a performer and singer had been extensive, beginning when he was just five years old.

“I’ve always had the bug for [performing]. I started taking [theater classes] when I was five, and besides theater, I also [write] and [create] music. I’m learning many instruments, like guitar, ukulele [and] piano, and I’ve stuck with it my whole life. It’s like a backbone,” Mullen said. “It’s not even about getting the rewards or the attention from it, but getting to perform it. Using my body as an instrument is definitely something I’m grateful for.”

Compared to all of Mullen’s previous performance experiences, his performances for the tour explored a vastly different sphere of musicality. 

“I’m very theater-oriented with a lot of my performances, so I [got to use] a different aspect of my musical agility when it comes to rap music and performing at a concert at the Enterprise Center for 20,000 people. It’s different from when you’re acting and dancing. We’re [still] singing and vibing, but it’s just a whole different environment,” Mullen said. “This specifically was something that I don’t think can be replaced.”

To Mullen and the choir’s surprise, they were also given free tickets to watch the rest of the concert after Lil Durk finished his opening performance. 

“[The concert] was amazing. A small group of us were 4 feet from Drake,” Mullen said. “[Drake and J. Cole] were really personable with the crowd [on] the second night when we were on the floor. It felt like we were just all vibing and listening to what [they] had to say. Instead of just fanning, you’re all vibing as one entity in that place.” 

Despite the suddenness of the performance opportunity and the late-night arrivals back home, Mullen still enjoyed every aspect of the experience. 

“A lot of people were posting me on [social media.] My family surprised me at the concert; I was walking up, and I saw them in a row, and they were all crying. It’s really funny to me because they see me perform a lot, but this was definitely one of the uppers,” Mullen said. 

Retrospectively, Mullen recognizes the significance this performance holds in his journey as a performer but also hopes to continue along this path in college and in a future career.

“After [this performance], I’m trying to look for something that will be as great as that [was],” Mullen said. “It may seem like this is the biggest thing in my life, but hopefully it’s just a dot in the calendar.”

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About the Contributor
Samir Shaik, Multimedia/Sports Editor
Pronouns: he/him Grade: 11 Years on staff: 3 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Rainbow Fish." Who is your hero? My mom. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Peaches.
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  • C

    Cindy PhungFeb 16, 2024 at 9:07 pm

    This is an amazing feature about such a once-in-a-lifetime experience Jack had. Wow. Keep it up Samir!

    Reply
  • M

    Mya JenkinsFeb 16, 2024 at 5:22 pm

    LOVE 2 SEE ITTT!!!

    Reply