Photo courtesy Katherine Hoitt
Katherine Hoitt, a Vicksburg resident who currently serves as choir director of the Academy of Innovation there, says she doesn't remember a time in her life when she was not singing.
Her mother, Susan Hoitt, has served as director of an Alabama-based community choir group called Mobile's Singing Children, which Katherine Hoitt was a member of until she graduated from high school in 2011, for 17 years. Her father, John Hoitt, is the owner of contracting business Thinking Cap Consulting. While he hasn't formally studied music, Katherine Hoitt says her father is a talented singer and helped her develop a love of pop music alongside choir singing.
"Singing has been something in my life that I've always felt a great sense of purpose in and that I've always come back to no matter what else I did," she says. "I've never considered giving it up over anything else."
At the beginning of June, the Mississippi Boychoir named Hoitt the organization's artistic director. Margaret Ewing Thomas, a vocal music teacher who now lives in Hattiesburg, founded the Mississippi Boychoir in Columbus, Miss., in 1995. Today, the choir operates two chapters in Vicksburg and Jackson.
As artistic director, Hoitt will run rehearsals for the choir, plan performances and oversee the group's repertoire of songs. Hoitt told the Jackson Free Press she plans to travel to Jackson on Tuesday nights to manage rehearsals and performances for the Jackson chapter.
"I'm looking forward to helping to carry on the Mississippi Boychoir's legacy of great performance and providing musical literacy opportunities for these children," Hoitt says. "To me, that legacy is one of the benefits of hard work and how it affects the character of a young man. The choir helps them learn music as well as how to be a successful citizen in society."
Hoitt was born in Mobile, Ala., and graduated from Murphy High School before moving to Hattiesburg to attend the University of Southern Mississippi. She received a bachelor's degree in music education with an emphasis on singing in 2015 and later received a master's degree in choral conducting from USM in 2017.
While attending the university, Hoitt performed in USM's choir group, the Southern Chorale, and co-directed and performed with the Southern BelleTones, a contemporary women's a cappella group at the school.
After graduating, Hoitt moved to Memphis, Tenn., and took a job as choral director at American Way Middle School. She became the choir director at the Academy of Innovation in 2018 and an assistant director for the Mississippi Boychoir later that ear.
Hoitt says she came to learn about the Mississippi Boychoir from the organization's previous director, Nancy Robertson, who recruited Hoitt to work at the Academy of Innovation. Hoitt taught musical pieces for the choir and sometimes served as a conductor.
"After I'd had some time to observe and take part in the Boychoir's activities, I was hooked and knew I wanted to work with them," Hoitt says. "When Ezra Wall (the choir's board president) approached me about joining them, I was so happy to get my foot in the door, but I never believed I'd end up being the director. Now that I am here, I'm glad to be part of an organization that gives these boys somewhere to belong while also teaching them about the performing arts."
Rehearsals for the Mississippi Boychoir will begin in August 2019 in both Jackson and Vicksburg. The core group that makes up the choir is between ages 8 and 15, with a few younger and older additions, a release form the organization says. For more information, visit msboychoir.org.