Layla Williams: All State Chorus


Faith Johnson

Layla Williams, a junior, has accomplished a significant achievement. She has been accepted into the GMEA All State Chorus-High School Division. This program allows teens, who are overseen by official directors, to audition for the chance to perform advanced musical pieces at the Classical Center in Athens. It is a competitive affair with only a handful of students selected to join. Layla reveals the work she’s put into getting where she is today.

  • How long have you been in a chorus program?
  • “I started really doing chorus when I came to Whitewater Middle, so in 6th grade. They had a chorus program at my elementary school, but it wasn’t really involved, and I had never really heard of anything like All State. Once I came to Whitewater, that’s really when chorus started picking up [for me].”


  • What do you love about singing and what made you interested in it?
  • “I mean I think it was always really a part of my life, and just making music in any form is great, but singing specifically really resonated with me because the music you’re creating is coming from within yourself. You’re not using your fingers to strum a string or you’re not blowing air into another instrument. The vibrations are happening inside of you, which is kind of an irreplaceable experience for me.”

  • How did you find out about the audition for All State Chorus?
  • “It was actually Mrs. Drewry. She was my chorus teacher back in middle school, and she’s retired now, but I got to catch her for her last three years of teaching in middle school, so that was really cool. I can’t remember how much of a big deal she made about it…it was so long ago for me, but I remember knowing that it was a really great opportunity that I know I wouldn’t have been able to have if I had stayed at the other middle school I was going to. Really, I was just trying to take advantage of whatever opportunities were placed in front of me, and All State was one of those.

  • What was the process for All State?
  • “Well, it starts out with you practicing a solo, and then you have to work on your sight reading skills, as well. There’s two portions for the first audition for All State, and that’s your solo and skiles audition, and then your sight reading. [Mrs. Drewry] helped me with my scales and then helped me practice my sight reading skills. Then, I just went in and did it.”

  • How many times did you try out for the auditions?
  • “I think I tried auditioning for All State three or four times, and I’ve got in two of the four times. I think, maybe the first time I auditioned in 7th grade, I didn’t get in, and then I got in my 8th grade year, and then I didn’t get in my 9th grade year, and then I did get in this year.”

  • What were you feeling during the audition?
  • “I think the first time that I went to go audition, I didn’t know to be nervous. I never really experienced anything like it, so I didn’t know what to expect. I think the second time I tried to audition was really when I was like, nervous about it.”

  • What do you do in the All State Program?
  • “So in All State, we have a variety of selections of music. They come from different cultures, different languages, different styles. We have a song right now that’s in French, one that’s in Swahili, maybe. Yeah, it’s really cool. You [then] get together with other chorus kids from around the state of Georgia, who have all practiced their parts and everything, and they put all the parts together. You’ve been singing on your own, essentially, for the first month or so when you’re practicing, but once you go to All State, you’re inside of an entire room filled with other choral singers. When it comes together for the first time, it’s magical.”


  • Are you excited to be going to Athens and Performing there?
  • Yes, sometimes I kinda forget that it’s even happening, like, not that I forget it’s happening, but it doesn’t register like ‘hey, you’re about to get to go and be in that situation again.’ It’s not something that I would’ve thought I’d be able to do after last year…[knowing] that I’m going to be able to have that experience again is…mind blowing.”


One interesting take away from all this is they are expected to know multiple songs in multiple languages. Where most people take a while to work through pronunciation of another language, these students have to be near perfect in around a month.  This sheds light on the impressiveness of her being selected into such an elite program. She has spent much of her time practicing and perfecting the art of her voice. Whitewater is very proud to have her.