McKenna Selissen, HHS Class of 2014, now a sophomore at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, was one of 30 members of the Augsburg choir who performed with Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Barry Manilow on April 7 when he stopped at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on his farewell “One Last Time!” tour.
Selissen, the daughter of Therese & Dave Selissen of Hudson, is a music therapy major who sings soprano in the choir. She is a well-known performer in her hometown and throughout the Twin Cities as part of August Blues with Cavan Denning, Ben Tresselt and Dylan White, also HHS alumni.
The Augsburg students joined Manilow on stage for his encore, which included his Billboard Top 100 chart toppers, “I Write the Songs,” “Miracle,” and “Copacabana.” Selissen said Manilow’s music director viewed tapes of several Twin Cities choirs before choosing Augsburg and the choir had about a week to prepare. They had one rehearsal with Manilow prior to the performance.
“It was amazing to be up on stage with him and although we didn’t get to meet him personally, it was unbelievable to share the stage with someone so well respected and well known in the music world,” Selissen said. “I am amazed how many hit songs he's had and with all the commercial jingles he's wrote; he is extremely talented. It was such an honor to have had this opportunity, especially when he announced it would be his farewell concert tour.”
Selissen said she decided on a career in music therapy when she was in high school and volunteered in a program for people with Alzheimer's and other memory impairments. She has continued that work in college.
“I have to say the most exciting part about it all for me was being able to give the complimentary tickets we received to two clients from the program I work with now. I actually discovered Barry Manilow's music from this client I worked with. Every day when staff works with him he asks to listen to Barry Manilow on an iPad. He knows every song and all the words so it was such a coincidence when we were asked to do this. This client was beyond excited to not only go to his first concert, but to see his very favorite singer.”
Selissen said August Blues will be performing regularly this summer throughout the St. Croix Valley and the Twin Cities. The group is scheduled to perform at the St. Paul Saints game on June 25. Check the group’s website for other performance dates, www.augustbluesband.com, or find them on Facebook.
A video of part of the performance with Manilow can be found online at
youtu.be/KMGOU0vFbqo. Selissen is featured in the group left of center stage fifth from the end.