ATLANTA – A former reality TV show semi-finalist will lead the holiday performance at Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood Thursday and Friday in a concert that will feature original songs written and arranged by the artist.
The classically trained singer and music teacher, Ian J. Knighton, will share the spotlight with 200 of his students during the special performance “When Genres Collide,” which debuts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 17, at 1807 Memorial Drive in Atlanta. Shows also will be held at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday at Ivy Prep Kirkwood.
Knighton, a veteran teacher, is an award-winning singer. He became a television reality star in 2009 when he landed a spot on BET’s “Sunday Best” music competition. He was also chosen by judges in Sacramento, Calif. to be a contestant on the debut of “The X Factor” on the Fox television network.
His holiday show at Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood will combine the voices of his music students at Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy and Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls for the first time in a mass choir. The students will sing what Knighton says is an “operetta” of songs in English, Latin and German. One of the contemporary songs features holiday lyrics over Grammy-winner Cee- Lo Green’s hit “Forget You.” Another tune features an international twist on the Temptations’ classic “Silent Night.”
The Ivy Chorale for Boys and Girls also will make use of their teacher’s dramatic tenor voice by providing background vocals for a few solos by their celebrity music teacher. The students have been rehearsing and learning choreography for the show since October.
“It is my goal to inspire my students to appreciate music and to educate them that there is more than one way to sing a song,” Knighton said. “We don’t always have to be limited to listening to rap or gospel music. I am showing them that there is beauty in all types of music. ”
Knighton teaches his students music theory. They learn how to read and compose basic rhythms, and sing with wide mouths so that every syllable is heard with perfect diction. “I am teaching them how to be performers,” he said.
Knighton began singing in front of audiences at age four in Cuthbert, Ga. He performed gospel songs in his neighborhood church in grade school and sang opera by age 17. “I was asked to enter a literature and arts competition in high school and performed an aria in German,” he said. “I knew nothing about the language or reading music. I was surprised when I won the contest.”
The win inspired Knighton to study music at Albany State University. He continued to pursue his passion in his spare time as he worked as a music and special education teacher in his hometown.
In 2009, Knighton got his big break as a musician. His silky voice won him a spot on BET’s reality TV music competition “Sunday Best,” where he was selected to perform as one of the top 20 semi-finalists. Two years later, scouts looking for talented Sacramento musicians to appear on Fox’s “X Factor” premiere gave Knighton a “golden ticket” as a debut contestant. Knighton, however, had to withdraw from the competition before it aired due to his contractual obligations with BET.
Knighton continues to perform as a singer. He has appeared in numerous stage plays with professional artists including two-time Grammy Award winning gospel star, Jacky Clark-Chisholm, of The Clark Sisters; hip-hop singer Tamika Scott from Xscape; and 1990s R & B superstar, Christopher Williams, a stage and screen actor. Knighton is currently working on a solo project – a contemporary Christian album.
“My plan has always been to be a singer/songwriter who could work with an artist of any genre,” he said. “I’ve been working on my album for three years. People who work with me know that I’m a perfectionist.”
Knighton’s students are familiar with his stint on television. When he sings at school, visitors stop in their tracks to listen to his voice.
“He’s a really good singer,” said Trinity Jackson, a fourth grade Ivy Chorale member who is performing an African dance in Knighton’s production. “He is helping us to learn how to sing, too.”
Administrators said that Ivy Prep’s new holiday show will be a hit with parents and community supporters. “I have no doubt that they will do a great job,” said Derick Brown, principal of Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy.
Knighton said that the show is teaching his students that performing is hard work. He said it is helping them to gain confidence in their abilities as young musicians.
“I love singing and teaching music to students,” said Knighton. “Music is a universal language that my students are learning to embrace. Performing will help to broaden their horizons.”
For more information on Knighton’s music, visit: