A large crowd turned out for the tribute concert that honored retired Saline Area Schools vocal teacher Norma Freeman last week.
Professional singer William Martinez performed his one-man show, SIGNing the Song, at the Ellen A. Ewing Center for the Performing Arts at Saline High School Oct. 5. The show honors Freeman, who had Martinez as a student when she taught middle school near Denver, before coming to Saline.
The show features Martinez singing songs and telling the story of his life, which saw him grow up in a silent home to become a professional singer. Martinez was raised by a single mother who could not hear or speak. He also had little exposure to radio, movies and television. With the help of Freeman, his eighth-grade music teacher, Martinez emerged from the silent world and discovered his voice through music.
Martinez’s performance also incorporates American Sign Language into the show.
After the performance, several of Freeman’s colleagues, including Bob Cindric (vocal music teacher at Woodland Elementary), Assistant Superintendent Steve Laatsch and Sarah Price (vocal music teacher at Saline High School), shared memories about the retired Saline teacher and how she inspired them.
Freeman was the recipient of the Kennedy Center 2017 Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award.
The show closed with Freeman leading the combined choirs of the Chamber Choir, Colla Voce, Concert Choir and SHS Choir Alumni in â€œHow Can I Keep From Singing,â€ Quaker Hymn, Arr. Gwyneth Walker.
Martinez has performed on Silversea cruiselines, toured with various national shows and performed in Parade, Little Mary Sunshine, No No Nannette, Titanic, Big River and Oliver. SIGNing the Song was presented by Saline Area Schools, Saline Cultural Arts and the Foundation for Saline Area Schools.
Photos by Angelo Parlove