Recording artist Brandon Fox returns to Elk Grove High
Singer Brandon Fox returns to his roots in the Elk Grove High School choir room
A recording artist who is releasing his first solo album this fall returned to where he first found his voice: Elk Grove High School's choir room.
Rhythm and blues singer Brandon Fox, formerly of Makeshift Prodigy, was on campus Tuesday to rehearse with choir students.
"It's crazy to be back here," said Fox, who graduated in 2004. "There's so much nostalgia in these halls."
Members of the Chamber Choir worked with director Sarah Catt on one of Fox's original songs, "Bring Me Down," which is part of his new album, "Glory."
"Be confident, put a smile on your face and echo the lyrics," Fox told the students. "This is about overcoming obstacles, and nothing can bring you down."
Fox will perform with choir students Friday during an afternoon pep rally at the school. He also will perform in the Grenadiers' stadium after the varsity football game that night.
"It's inspiring that people still want to connect with us even after all these years," said senior Sheldon Adams of Elk Grove Village.
Fox related his story of singing in the choir for four years at Elk Grove High and also playing football, which he ultimately went on to play at Carthage College in Kenosha.
It was in college that Fox joined with classmates and formed a band that played at events on campus.
Within two years, Makeshift Prodigy signed with Atlantic Records and toured the country, eventually playing Lollapalooza in 2013.
Fox since has parted ways with the band and is making big waves in the music scene, emerging as one of Chicago's hottest rising acts with a mix of urban pop, dance and R&B.
But he came to Elk Grove High talk to students about more than music. Fox opened up about his father's battle with alcoholism and subsequent suicide, and his own issues with mental health and substance abuse.
"I've been at some of the darkest moments of life that you can think of," Fox said, "but through music, I'm here today."
The song they worked on included lyrics about perseverance and not letting perceptions bring them down.
"Whatever your passion is -- music, sports or hobbies -- don't let anyone deter you," he said. "Remember, you have family, friends and other people who care about you to reach out to."
School officials dropped in during the rehearsal, including Fine Arts Director Joe Wolfe, who cast Fox in the lead of the musical, "Once Upon an Island."
"I point out your picture on the wall all the time," Wolfe said of the choir rehearsal photo that includes Fox. It hangs in the school's main entrance.
But it was students who left the rehearsal still singing the lyrics of the chorus and buzzing with excitement over working with the recording artist.
"It makes me want to keep singing," said senior and choir president Sara Kouvelis of Des Plaines, "and sing after college."