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The Music Hall Kentucky's Antonio Hall takes his singing as seriously as his football

Sept. 17, 2001
Sept. 17, 2001

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Sept. 17, 2001

The Music Hall Kentucky's Antonio Hall takes his singing as seriously as his football

When Antonio Hall, whose exploits at Canton (Ohio) McKinley High
made him the most sought-after offensive lineman in the country,
visited Kentucky in January 2000, the first thing he did when he
got to the campus was head to the School of Fine Arts. There he
met with members of the music faculty, including renowned tenor
Everett McCorvey, for almost two hours, discussing Kentucky's
music program and facilities. Only afterward did Hall turn his
attention to Wildcats football. Satisfied with what the school
had to offer on both fronts, Hall enrolled, and it's hard to tell
who is happier that he did: McCorvey, who is now Hall's voice
professor, or football coach Guy Morriss. "I could tell right off
that he was a very special kid," says McCorvey.

This is an article from the Sept. 17, 2001 issue Original Layout

Like football prowess--former Detroit Lions coach Wayne Fontes is
Hall's cousin--musical ability runs in the family. His mother,
Venus Ahmed, a social worker, plays the sax as a hobby, and his
father, Nick Spondyl, a history and social studies teacher, plays
guitar in the Hellenic Stars, a sort of Mediterranean rock fusion
act that Hall likens to a Greek Santana. (The Hellenic Stars are
laying down tracks for a CD to be released in early 2002, and
Hall, who has his mother's maiden name, sings on a handful of
them.) Their only child got his start as a singer with the Shiloh
Baptist Church choir in Canton when he was four, and by the time
he was a sophomore at McKinley, he knew he wanted to study music,
so he took up the piano. Now, as a music education major, you'll
find him singing anything from a La Boheme aria to a tune from
the musical Showboat to one of the original R&B numbers he has
composed.

Hall performs with the school choir in the off-season and also
does gigs with a local choir, the Lexington Singers--but his
roommates frequently get a sneak preview when he doesn't have
time to make it to a practice room. "I do sing in the shower," he
says. "But my roommates aren't really big fans of opera."

The 6'5", 302-pound Hall considers himself lucky that his parents
exposed him to music at such an early age. While it's a good bet
that his future includes a pro football career, what he really
wants to do is coach the game and teach music to children who
don't normally have the opportunity he did. "Kids in the inner
city don't get the chance to appreciate the benefits music holds,
and they should," he says. "That's a big thing to me."

For the time being, though, Hall will go on being one of the
busiest students on campus. He spends about 90 minutes a day
playing the piano and an hour a day singing, while still working
to excel on the field. He started every game at right tackle last
year and was named a freshman All-America. In last Saturday's
28-20 win over Ball State, Hall had the best game of his career.
He racked up 10 knockdowns and didn't permit so much as a
quarterback hurry while anchoring a line that opened the holes
for running back Chad Scot, who rushed for 119 yards on 10
carries--the kind of numbers that are music to Hall's ears.

COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES