He credits his experience in vocal music groups for having the discipline to pursue a music career professionally.
But what prompted hip-hop artist Darren Anthony to join the Heights Singers and eventually the a capella choir and honors choir was simple chemistry.
“I was able to sing a little bit, and it was something I always did. But then I saw the young ladies in the choir, so I said, 'Why don’t I just do that?'” Anthony recalled.
But don’t be fooled by his initial intentions — Anthony had played saxophone in the symphonic band freshman year and wrote songs on his guitar in his free time before joining the choirs, he said.
A 2004 grad, he’s now producing his own songs, opened for popular hip hop artist Drake and will be the youngest of a group of musicians who hail from Heights High at a reunion show this weekend.
Ten performers, most whom graduated from or attended Heights High in the early to mid '90s, will take the stage together in a at 8 p.m. Friday at Euclid Tavern.
Mai Moore, who coordinated the show, said she was chatting with friends on Facebook about a month and a half ago, and the idea just came up.
“The reason why I did this is because there are hundreds of artists who come out of Heights High that are professional musicians, and they are scattered all over the world,” said Moore, a ’95 grad. “The process has been very natural. We said it would be cool to see artists showcased.”
Moore reached out to former Heights students she knew in the area to see if they would be interested in being a part of the Once Again: Cleveland Heights Throwback Artist Showcase.
“I wanted a wide variety of genres, and the order that the artists will perform — there’s a strategy behind it,” said Moore, who is a marketing professional and has her own company, Knowledgeable Marketing. “I want people to know that it is open to everybody, it’s not just for Heights alumni. It’s a real Cleveland community event that they should come to from start to finish ... there’s a reason why the people are in the order they are.”
Hip hop, jazz, gospel, rock and reggae are just a few of the styles that musicians will perform that evening.
She said it’s the first show of Heights alums in Cleveland, and though putting it together in less than two months took a lot of work, she’s already thinking about a second and even a third show.
“We had a meeting where all the artists came together. It’s very rare that you get 15 diverse people who come together for the same reason, with no BS, all love,” Moore said. “People kept talking about the Heights, its diversity, how it taught you to know how to deal with so many different types of people growing up … Cleveland Heights is so unique. I’ve lived all over the world, and that’s what I’m trying to showcase here to people.”
Cleveland Heights businesses and those involved in the music scene have supported her, Moore said, and some people, including the musicians, are donating their time to put this on.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Anthony said. “You can get a good idea of the music in that time and the influences that created their particular sound … You’ll get to see the entire spectrum.”
One artist is performing for the first time in about four years after suffering a back injury.
Husband and wife team Kounterclockwise were visiting Cleveland after they were about to get a record deal, when Deacon Burns was in an accident that left him paralyzed.
“It took a lot for me to build my own mental confidence again,” said Burns, who attended Heights High from 1990 to 1993.
He said he healed mentally once he embraced it, which is evident from the group’s logo — a black and yellow image that mimics a traffic sign – showing his wife, Kaya, pushing him in a wheelchair.
With all the down time, he wrote more than 150 songs, and can’t wait to showcase his new work.
“The Heights has a lot of underground talent that really nobody knows about,” he said. “Cleveland Heights is very unique, so I was really pumped to be a part of it.”
Moore said she was amazed by how many people she connected with while planning the event.
“There is a common understanding between us all, and there’s a love for the Heights,” she said. “I’m a very visionary person, and when there’s an opportunity, I act on it.”
The show is at 8 p.m. Friday at Euclid Tavern. Tickets are $10 in advance and on sale at , Eventbrite, on Coventry Road and on Lee Road, and $15 at the door.