For Gabby Pickert, being named to the All Northwest Honor Jazz Choir is an exciting opportunity for a couple of reasons.
One is that it’s a chance to try something new — singing jazz — rather than her usual musical theater or choir numbers.
And regardless of the genre, it’s another chance to be where she loves to be — on stage.
“It’s just a different energy than anything else you can experience,” she said. “Although there’s a lot of other rushes, I feel like this one specific is really special to me. It’s the thing a lot of people fear that I’ve just found is my comfort zone.”
Pickert, a sophomore at Whitefish High School, is one of two Montana students to be accepted to the choir, which consists of students from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Her younger brother also made the junior high choir.
With jazz being out of her usual wheelhouse, Pickert decided to audition for the choir on the urging of her teacher at WHS, Sky Thoreson.
“I’ve actually never sang jazz before,” she said. “I’m a musical theater actress, but Mr. Thoreson was just like, ‘You’re a good belter, do this jazz thing.’ I’ve taken classical voice lessons for a long time so usually I just audition for the regular choir.”
While Pickert says she didn’t exactly expect to make the choir, she was interested to see how she’d stack up.
“I kind of auditioned just to see how I was at singing compared to the rest of the northwest. I have always felt like a big fish in a small pond here,” she said. “I’ve always known that I’m a good singer so I was like, ‘OK, what if I got into this, that could be pretty cool.’”
She’ll rehearse on her own until March, when the choir comes together for a few days of practice before their performance in Spokane.
After that, she’s got more planned.
Though she’s only a sophomore, Pickert is already planning on spending the summer checking out potential colleges and conservatories in New York and London, among other locations.
College is still a couple years off, but she says she has no doubts that she wants to pursue music in the future.
“I started theater in first grade and I don’t think I’ve ever had anything else I’ve wanted to do. It’s varied in different parts of the industry, like at one point I wanted to be a professional pianist, or a professional dancer, but it’s always been in the industry,” she said.