AUBURN — Auburn native Sean McLeod has worn many hats throughout his career. The internationally known producer, choreographer, composer and businessman has traveled the world for his work, winning several coveted awards over the last 25 to 30 years. But there was one award, he said, that means more than most, and he won it Friday night in his hometown.
On Friday, Jan. 20, McLeod was one of 10 musicians inducted into Auburn High School's brand new Music Hall of Fame. He was also one of nearly 100 current students and alumni to perform at the high school's first-ever Alumni Music Gala.
"It really feels historical," McLeod said, smiling. "I've gotten national awards and things of that nature, but this really ranks among the highest of them because it's from my hometown. ... And being able to hang out with folks that I performed with back in high school, there's something very uniquely special about this."
The alumni concert was the so-called "brain child" of high school chorus director Douglas McCall who wanted to host a fundraiser for seven Auburn students hoping to tour Europe with American Music Abroad this summer. However, McCall said it turned out to be much more.
"This event is, first and foremost, a celebration of music in the community," he said.
The celebration began with a multi-generational music choir of 80 students and 10 alumni who came together to sing a song that McLeod composed more than 20 years ago: "Come on Harriet."
"I'm really honored that out of all the music they could have selected, somehow they chose the music that I wrote," McLeod said. "So this is also about paying homage to Harriet Tubman and the new park and the history of her combat to make a difference."
Still, McLeod said there was a third thing for him to celebrate as he was able to share the stage with his daughter, Devon.
"There's something special about being able to share this moment with my daughter, my family, but also my extended family — my classmates that have come back and people that have graduated before me and after me," he said.
"My father talks all the time about how he wouldn't be where he is today without the foundation of Auburn High School," Devon added, noting she was part of the multi-generational choir as a 2013 graduate of AHS. "To see them honor him for the things that he has done makes me really proud. It's really something special."
In addition to McLeod, three educators, two alumni and four community members became the first inductees of the school's Music Hall of Fame, most of whom were there to thank the school and the city for helping in their success.
"This is a special place," said Dr. Stephen Gage, a former band director at AHS. "If I've had career success ... I owe a lot of it to Auburn."