Late last year Mesquite musical duo Paige Lehmann and producer Mitch Mitchell announced a community-involved musical project titled “Restore the Joy!” and album written by Lehmann about her time with her late grandfather, Thomas Lehmann.
The duo auditioned and selected three Mesquite ISD high school orchestra students to be part of this album and their show at the Mesquite Arts Center at 7 p.m., March 29. The three MISD students selected to be part of this album are sophomore Haniston Halloway, 15, and senior Lilia Mease, 18, both of John Horn High School and senior Jonvieve (Evie) Pelino, 17, of North Mesquite. These three will also each receive $1,000 scholarships courtesy of Regenerative Medicine of Texas, Piano Note 1 Productions, and Lehmann, The Mesquite Arts Council, and the Mesquite community. Additionally, Mesquite ISD students can get into the show for free.
How did you feel about being chosen to be part of Restore the Joy?
Lilia: It is a great opportunity for growth musically, and it has pushed me in the right direction as far as college education. While my values have not changed, my mind has been opened to the world of collaborating musicians and what it means to be a performer as opposed to being a homogenous unit in a mass of classical string players.
Evie: I was excited because it’s not the normal music we do in school. It’s more exciting and different. The atmosphere is also different; I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s nice to play something different.
Haniston: I was eating lunch, and I screamed when I saw I made the album!
What instrument do you play?
Lilia: Violin 1
Evie: Violin 2
What have you learned from Paige and Mitchell?
Lilia: I’ve learned a lot about the business end of music and the technical aspect of putting together a show and album. They kept us in the loop about the aspects, such as marketing, selling tickets, etc. I realize now everything that needs to be done to make these kinds of things happen. It’s been a good real-life practice. We learned the musical process from simple melodies and lyrics to the finished product of a song. I learned how to be more comfortable with improv and step out of my comfort zone. I’m a more confident musician now.
Evie: You can have fun in a work environment. You can do something for hours and hours without getting bored. They make it fun, not tedious like school. They made it fun and playful for us, and that’s nice! We learned how protools and mics work, and how the style of a song can change depending on how all of those are put together in order to create the song.
Haniston: They always to tell us to do what we want, no matter what. We’re in high school and that’s a hard time. It’s nice to come here and have people actually believe in us- not just saying it. From when we started the project until now, I’ve learned more about Restore the Joy in myself!
What drew you to music? And how old were you when you picked up your first instrument?
Lilia: Music is part of me; I can’t distinguish a certain point of my life when I decided to play music. It’s as natural as anything. I was around 8 or 9 when I started playing the electric Barbie guitar. It was a toy, but it was big enough to play. Later, 5th grade, I started playing violin and I’ve been playing ever since.
Evie: I played recorder in 3rd grade. I was 8 when I first got my guitar; from then, I would play the piano and started violin in 6th grade. I started paying ocarina in 10th grade.
Haniston: I started when I was 8 or 9. I played the piano. I was inspired because I love gospel music. Watching musicians play at church was inspiring. I would watch the pianist play, who was great, and I wanted to play. I started playing cello in 6th grade because of my dad. He was playing cello in the living room and he let me try. I thought “wow! this is cool!”
Who are some of your musical influences?
Lilia: That’s a hard question! Steve Lacy; he created a whole EP just using his phone. Mrs. Garza, my elementary and middle orchestra director. Mr. Engel, who made my violin. Mrs. Allgood, my current orchestra teacher. Bruno Major, Tomppabeats, Paige for encouraging my musical ability, and my mom.
Evie: Mrs. Rosebury Bruner, my elementary school teacher. And my older brother. My parents, because they played music a lot when I was younger.
Haniston: My dad, Mrs. Allgood, Mrs. Moten, and my musician friends. All of my friends are musicians.
What’s your favorite song on the album?
Lilia: Either A Song Never Sung Reaches No One or Saved You A Skittle. I’m not sure which yet.
Evie: A Song Never Sung Reaches No One
Haniston: A Song Never Sung Reaches No One
What are you looking forward to about the concert?
Lilia: Witnessing the culmination of months of hard work, with three lovely young women, who share passion for music as much as I do will be a long-awaited conclusion to the project.
Evie: Getting to play and share the music with other people! Playing with my team.
Haniston: Finally getting to say what we’ve wanted to say with the music. Restore the Joy!
What are the top five songs on your playlist right now?
Lilia: Old Fashioned by Bruno Major, Can’t Get Over You by JoJi, Jeanie Ginger Root, Jasmine DPR Live, and Comfort by Julia Jacklin.
Evie: Whatever’s playing in my mind at any given time.
Haniston: Pushing 20 by Sabrina Carpenter, The Knife by Maggie Rogers, What A Feeling by One Direction, It’s not living if it’s not with you by The 1975, and Never Let Me Go by Florence and the Machine.
What do you do for fun? Hobbies?
Lilia: I love to go out to various shops and get boba AKA milk tea.
Evie: I do a lot of music. I read a lot. Sometimes I watch TV with my dad and brothers, and play video games with my brothers.
Haniston: I paint; I find it very relaxing. And I love eating with my friends.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Lilia: Maybe I’ll be married, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll have children, maybe I’ll be in Mesquite, and maybe I’ll be traveling the world. I could be on a flight to France to meet with Paige for a 10 year reunion, but either way, I’ll still be working to please my God.
Evie: I would like to have a stable job doing art. Maybe I’ll have a family at that point.
Haniston: I don’t see myself next week! That’s crazy! I hope I’m positively influencing people around me. I don’t want to be a lost cause in someone’s life.