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SHS junior to perform at Circle of Lights show


McKenna Hall has performed in front of crowds before.

She’s performed in Breck Auditorium numerous times at Shelbyville High School for a variety of high school productions, including this weekend’s musical, “The Addams Family.”

A few years ago, she participated in Shelby Idol, the local singing competition modeled off of the popular television show, “American Idol.” She won the high school division title in its final year in 2016.

And she’s performed in the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, performing in front of thousands of people.

But 100,000 people?

That will be a new experience.

Hall will get that experience in a couple of weeks when she performs at the Circle of Lights, Indianapolis’ longstanding tradition where Monument Circle is lit up during a holiday show featuring local talent. The show runs from 7-8 p.m. Nov. 23 with the lighting of the Christmas lights taking place around 7:55 p.m.

One of six acts selected after an audition process, Hall, a junior, will perform “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in front of a live audience. WTHR-13 will air the show, which also features Indianapolis native Josh Kaufman, who won “The Voice” in 2014, and Lydia Tremaine, the reigning Miss Indiana, who will also perform solo.

“That’s a little intimidating, and the TV part is very new to me,” Hall said of performing in front of 100,000 people.

The opportunity almost didn’t happen.

After submitting an audition video and being chosen as one of 15 finalists, Hall received a rejection e-mail stating she was a finalist but would not perform at the Circle of Lights. There was a copyright issue with her song.

The organizers sent a copy of her audition tape to Broadway International, which gave its approval, clearing the path for her performance.

“I was really, really excited, and even more so excited because I originally didn’t think I got in,” she said. “I think I’m excited to get to work with WTHR and the other singers because here you get to working with the same people and even in Shelbyville, it’s the same kind of crowd. Now I get to meet some new people and make some new connections and I’m really excited about that.”

Her choir director, Joel Kenemore, said it was a unique opportunity for her, one that he didn’t originally know she was pursuing until she had been chosen as one of the finalists.

“It’s great for her, it’s great for our department,” he said. “We have many talented kids.”

Hall said she chose her song because it’s jazzy, which fits her music style, and is not too fast or slow.

Organizers for the Circle of Lights wanted performers to choose songs that are upbeat because it’s an entertainment show celebrating the season.

“I wanted to make sure I was not singing something that everyone else was going to be singing,” she said.

Because she initially didn’t believe she was chosen, she missed one rehearsal but she has at least one more next week. She also will be at the sound check the day of the show.

Hall is planning on pursuing music as a career, although she said she’s still deciding what direction she wants to go in.

For now, the Circle of Lights is one more opportunity for her to get noticed, Kenemore said.

“It’ll be a great resume builder when she starts applying for colleges,” he said.


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