Joh’nya Jackson and Brielle Jones recently made history as the first students from MacArthur High School to secure a spot in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Honor Choir. Under the direction of Lauren Davis and Clinton Blanco, Jackson and Jones will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, next week to perform at the ACDA National Conference with other singers from across the country.
Read their respective stories below:
Joh’nya Jackson first realized she had a gift to sing in the 4th grade and soon began using her talent in church. She credits her mother for being the first person to encourage her singing efforts.
“Growing up in the church and seeing everyone sing made me want to,” says Jackson. “My mother is the one who encouraged me to use my gift.”
Jackson went on to be a member of the varsity choir at Sam Houston Middle School before joining MacArthur’s choir as a freshman, which is when she met directors Lauren Davis and Clinton Blanco. Jackson says Davis and Blanco have been instrumental in her growth as a singer, helping her be more comfortable as a female tenor and always there to encourage.
“Joh’nya has always impressed me with her perseverance and raw talent for singing,” Davis says. “Her dedication to music is obvious in everything she does.”
Being a young African American woman and one of the first from MacArthur High School to receive this is truly special for Jackson and a great way to celebrate Black History Month. Telling stories like hers are important and serve as an inspiration for all.
“It’s so important to tell these stories to show other kids what they can accomplish as well, and it gives us an opportunity to show gratitude to those who came before us,” adds Jackson. “Knowing that we’re the first makes me feel good. We’re black, we’re proud, and we’re here to make a way for others.”
Singing is a talent that was passed down from generations in Brielle Jones’s family, so it was no surprise when she joined the choir in 3rd grade. Growing up, Jones can remember hearing her grandmother and mother sing, which initially inspired her to follow in their footsteps. Since then, she has always been a part of her schools’ highest ranking choirs as a Soprano II. Jones says her drive to be the best at whatever she does comes from her mother.
“She has done it all as a single mother of two, and I respect her so much for everything she’s done for us,” Jones says.
MacArthur choir director Lauren Davis speaks highly of Jones’s work ethic and involvement in group performances.
“Brielle has always shown a willingness to work to be better at music,” says Davis. “Especially this year, performing with our Ascend group at a variety of events.”
Jones credits directors, Davis and Clinton Blanco, as huge support systems while preparing for the performance in Cincinnati next week at the ACDA National Conference.
“Both Joh’nya and Brielle are fantastic musicians in their own right, and to have them both highlighted like this is very special,” Blanco said. “I will thoroughly enjoy watching them perform on the national stage in Cincinnati.”
When speaking about making history as a young black woman, Jones says she is honored and proud to pave the way for others that come after her.
“I am proud and honored to be the first from our school, especially as young black women,” adds Jones. “We recently did a project on black lives and history in America, and it’s great we get to add onto that.”