By NECIA P SEAMONS
Citizen staff writer
The heartfelt and popular music of Franklin County native, Tyler Castelton, has been performed around the world by such acclaimed artists and superstars as Gladys Knight, Marie Osmond, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Julie de Azevedo, Eclipse, The Jets, and Martina McBride. His talents are behind the award-winning albums of Latter-day Saint artists Michael McLean, Jericho Road, Hilary Weeks, Kenneth Cope, Jenny Phillips, Cherie Call, Jenny Oaks Baker, Providence, and George Dyer.
Recently Castleton’s talents have come home to roost: Last year his newly organized boy-band Beyond 5 exploded onto the pop scene taking Castleton’s music throughout Asia. At Christmastime, he brought the group to perform at Preston High School and Preston Junior High.
Also last year, he gave his hometown another gift, one the community will receive in August: Castleton has put to music the heart and soul of the Oneida Stake Academy building in three original songs that will be featured in the first ever Oneida Stake Academy Pageant: “If These Walls Could Talk.”
In 2012, Castleton was approached by the late Karla Cattani about the idea of writing music for a script written by Cecelie Costley to be presented as part of the county’s 2013 centennial. Castleton readily agreed to be a part of the production and quickly wrote some tunes. At the time, Castleton was in the middle of producing the Asian tour and debut of Beyond 5, so his time was extraordinarily tight. But in his heart, he knew the music he had promised for the pageant wasn’t right.
So despite the hopes of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation Pageant Committee’s directors, he scrapped the songs. The pageant therefore, was not a part of Franklin County’s Centennial.
Castleton was determined to find just the “right” message with his songs, however, and rewrote them all. When they finally came together, the music was worth the wait, said Peggy Christensen, who took over the effort at Cattani’s untimely death.
“The music conveys exactly the message and emotions we were hoping for,” she said. Christensen and her husband are currently serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Alice King, Dani Dunn and the OSAF Pageant Committee are moving the production forward.
“From the moment I was approached by Karla Cattani, I knew I wanted to be involved,” said Castleton. “(The academy) has a special place in my heart because it was right there at the center of my youth and growing up and I appreciate it … for the history that’s behind it and what’s happened there long before I came along.”
He took his first music lessons in the building from Marion Newbold. He participated in choir concerts and National Honor Society meeting in the building’s ballroom. Like many youth in the past, Castleton was fascinated by the elegant, history-rich edifice.
“I have with my friends, snuck up into bell tower of the OSA many times, in the middle of the night with my friends, and rung the bell, bringing police many a time in the middle of the night on several occasions.”
But it was a respectful fascination and when he married, Castleton and his new bride held their wedding reception in the same ballroom. “My mother decorated that place like nobody’s business,” he said.
So it was for his appreciation to those people who provided his heritage and training, and his own attachment to the building, that Castleton told Cattani he would write the music despite the conflict it posed with his efforts to debut Beyond 5.
“I knew it would be difficult with my schedule, but … I said I would wholeheartedly. Frankly, I wanted to make a contribution. I wanted to help tell the story of our heritage and our history and of all the wonderful and amazing people who came before us. I feel really privileged to … use what I’ve been given (my talents) to help.”
In addition to the love Castleton feels for his hometown, Costley’s script inspired his compositions, he said. By imagining the mindset and heartfelt feelings of the characters, Castleton wrote the music from the their vantage point.
“I tried to put myself into the place of the townspeople so long ago when the prophet was encouraging them to make education a bigger part of their lives,” he said.
“It was not an easy process because I was juggling so much… And when I did have time, it wasn’t always easy to get ideas to flow.” Castleton said many prayers were said by people in his support group to help him accomplish what he was trying to do.
“They’re support and prayers in my behalf really did help those songs to come about.” Castleton said he is thankful for the opportunity to be involved in the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation Pageant, which will be presented August 8-9.
“I want to give a collective hug to the town of Preston. There are so many meaningful people there that played a part in my growing up. Preston’s a really special place. A big part of my heart will always be there,” he said.