Visit www.journal-news.net this weekend to check out the latest episode of the Journal’s talk show, “Unwrite”. Hosted by Journalists Jess Wilt and Colin McGuire, the weekly series features conversations with some of the most interesting people in the Eastern Panhandle.
This week’s episode features a conversation with Luke Frazier, founder and musical director of the American Pops Orchestra. After growing up in West Virginia – and taking inspiration from an elementary school gym performance – Frazier started APO and worked with everyone from Patti Labelle to Rita Moreno, among others. Through it all, however, he affectionately calls West Virginia his home.
This love for his roots brought him back to West Virginia to record two upcoming special PBS concerts filmed in the Eastern Panhandle. The first, “Country,” was recorded at Poor House Farm Park in Martinsburg, while the second, “American Roots,” was performed at the Marinoff Theater at Shepherd University. Both will air on PBS next month.
Some of the topics covered in the interview include what some of Frazier’s favorite pop songs have been over the years, the importance of remembering where he came from, what he would do if he didn’t. such a burning passion for music and, of course, its affinity for a certain local glassware.
Below is an excerpt from the conversation. To watch the full episode, go to www.journal-news.net or visit the Journal’s YouTube page.
Wither: This was all shot during the COVID-19 pandemic with high restrictions. What was it like adjusting to that?
Frazier: Well, you know, here’s another crazy thing. I have to admit that at the height of COVID, I kind of had a smile on my face when I got emails from groups saying, “We’re back! I like to remind everyone that we have never stopped. We shot our first special in August 2020. So talk about it, really, in the middle. I mean, when we filmed in West Virginia, it was like an old hat doing it. What I’m proud to say is that with all the TV shows, we haven’t had a single case of COVID, and we haven’t even had a single fear of COVID. The reason it’s at the top, we took it very seriously. We insisted on exceeding the CDC’s requirements for filming, spacing and time, and we were able to do everything safely. Every artist you see in our maskless shows is tested every day, even if they are vaccinated. Everyone who works in our teams or plays in our orchestra should be vaccinated.
McGuire: Were there growing pains at the beginning? Were some people resistant to any of these protocols?
Frazier: Actually, we were very lucky because, to be honest, nobody hired singers, musicians, stage crews, so they were happy to follow the guidelines so they could make art and get paid for it. that. That’s another thing – there were so many free performances on COVID, and it’s very pretty, but there were a lot of people still making money during COVID and a lot of people still receiving grants. Still, a lot of artists have been invited to play for free and that doesn’t suit me.