All you need is love: American Pie returns for ninth year; features 41 students


With plenty of divisiveness worldwide, Westfield High School staff figured community members might need a little positivity. That’s why they decided to make the theme of the ninth annual American Pie student concert “All You Need Is Love.”

WHS Assistant Principal Kurt Frederick said this year’s show, scheduled for 7 p.m. May 7, will be extra special. Last year’s show was presented virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year was ‘The Sensational Seventies,’ and it got de-sensationalized because we had to do it virtually,” Frederick said. “We had a lot of seniors (participating), so (this year) we invited back two alumni for a pre-show kind of opener, which is really cool. That’s what made this year even more exciting is the prospect of putting on a show in person live.”

The show will be at the Riverview Health Stadium, and 2,000 attendees will be allowed. Normally, the show is held in the WHS auditorium, which has a capacity of 800. Tickets have sold out in the past.

“This year’s theme is, “All You Need Is Love,” WHS teacher and American Pie co-organizer Mark Ewing said. “In actuality, The Beatles said it best, ‘All you need is love.’ With this whole process, we felt the answer to all society’s problems is love. This is our opportunity to give some love and some positivity and goodness and share that with the community as a whole. This just seemed like the perfect time to make that our theme.”

The show will feature songs by Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Kiss, Whitney Houston and other artists.

“It’s really a celebration of all aspects of love,” Ewing said. “Loving what you do, loving yourself, loving others. I feel like we really encapsulated that in 22 songs.”

Students audition for a spot in the American Pie concert in the winter. This year, there are 41 students involved. Tickets are $15.

Funds raised will support next year’s show.

“It funds the production elements, and we make zero profit,” Frederick said. “In a sense, whatever you make you put back into the show to make it as good as possible.”

In the future, Frederick said the school wants to create a scholarship with funds raised from the concert.

“Nothing captivates people’s attention more than music,” Frederick said. “That good melody or lyrics speak true to people, and we will have a unified experience here where people are hearing something together and responding and emoting to it at the same time. There’s something special about live performance. Our kids are unbelievable. People will walk away from the show in disbelief that this is a high school production just because of the quality or the passion.”

The rain date is 7 p.m. May 8. If weather is poor both days, the concert will be held in the auditorium with a small selection of the performers’ friends and family in attendance. Frederick said the group wants to offer a livestream option as well for both the live performance and if the concert moves to the auditorium due to weather.

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The setlist

The ninth annual American Pie set list includes, in no particular order:

  • “Let Love Rule” by Lenny Kravitz
  • “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding
  • “Thank U” by Alanis Morissette
  • “Holding out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler
  • “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams
  • “Freedom” by Richie Havens
  • “Better Together” by Jack Johnson
  • “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston
  • “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” by Pat Benetar
  • “I Was Made for Loving You” by Kiss
  • “Times Like These” by Foo Fighters
  • “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley
  • “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
  • “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
  • “To Be With You” by Mr. Big
  • “Imagine” by John Lennon
  • “Hands” by Jewel
  • “At Last” by Etta James
  • “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers
  • “Wind of Change” by Scorpions
  • “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge
  • “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers

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