Hunter Yusko was introduced to the British-American rock band Foreigner as a child.
“My mom and dad listened to them, so I did, too,” Yusko recalled.
Now, at 17, Yusko named Foreigner as one of her favorite bands. And her favorite song?
“Jukebox Hero,” she said.
The fan favorite tells the story of a boy standing outside a sold-out rock concert whose experience inspires him to pursue his own music career. It was a fitting choice, as Yusko on Friday evening stood outside at the grandstand at The Great Frederick Fair awaiting her own rock star moment.
Yusko was one of 25 students and recent graduates of Gov. Thomas Johnson High School tapped to perform alongside Foreigner in its Friday night show at the fair.
The band typically enlists a student choral group to join the performance for the chorus of its song “I Want to Know What Love is.”
Kathleen Taylor, a music teacher at TJ High, recalled the email sent in April to Frederick County Public Schools music teachers about Foreigner’s fair performance and search for a local student choir to join the band.
“I jumped right on that,” Taylor said. “I got the email on my phone, you know, so I saw it and immediately replied.”
Students at Tuscarora High School performed with the group when it came to the fair four years ago. Taylor said she heard of the students’ positive experience then, and hoped to offer her own students a similar chance.
Yusko graduated from TJ High in 2016, but returned to perform with her former classmates in the advanced music studies program, which is offered through FCPS’ Arts & Communication Academy.
Taylor gave preference to these students first, but also accepted singers from the school’s varsity and concert choirs to fill the remaining spots in the 25-person group.
As they waited for instructions before the performance on Friday, the group chattered in high-pitched voices, fanning themselves against the setting sun. They would rehearse for the first and only time with Foreigner just before the concert began.
Some, like Arianna Connacher, 14, weren’t nervous at all.
“I used to be in a rock band, so I’m kind of used to this,” the high school freshman said.
But her nonchalant demeanor became one of sheer enthusiasm as she added, “Foreigner is, like, my idol.”
Alex Hayes, 16, shared her excitement, but with a touch of nerves.
“Hopefully, it goes good,” he said, raising his hands to show his crossed fingers.
Taylor wasn’t worried, either. The entire experience had been positive and stress-free, she said.
“I know Foreigner does this at every venue, so they’ve kind of taken care of everything,” she said. “I don’t really have to stress at all.”
The actual student performance segment would be limited to just a portion of the one song, but “it’s definitely a great experience,” Yusko said.
As the time to take the stage drew nearer, the group began its pre-show preparations — with more than just vocal warmups.
“We pray, too” Yusko said.