MONIQUE BATSON — Being part of Motown and More was a Broadway moment of its own

Published 12:35 am Saturday, July 31, 2021

Had you asked me Thursday morning, I would have told you I’m a good singer. I was two-time All-Region choir, sang at a number of weddings and can host a shower concert unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

By 7:35 p.m. Thursday, after the first performance of the Taylor Getwood Inaugural Motown and More Show, I withdrew that claim. I’m a writer that couldn’t carry a tune in a five-gallon bucket with seven handles.

In all fairness, before the show started, Taylor said, “At times you’ll think these people are so good, we’re playing the track.” And in the weeks we’ve spent talking to publicize the show, I was told how good the performers were.

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But there were times when the audience was on its feet screaming and I was paralyzed in my seat from goosebumps.

This was never more evident than when a local high school senior sang “You’re gonna love me,” a song made famous by Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls,” that I could barely bring myself to clap. Had I been wearing my glasses, they would have shattered. And Hudson, while phenomenal, is now the second best person I’ve heard perform the song.

The Taylor Getwood Inaugural Motown and More Show was a collaboration between the Port Arthur ISD trustee and his former PAISD choir director, Lawrence Ingram, in an effort to give back to the community after a hard year.

In the months leading up to the show, I talked with Getwood and Ingram often for articles. But weeks ago, during one of those conversations with Ingram, I secretly became a part of the show. And it was one of the best moments of my career to date.

Since becoming editor of The Port Arthur News in March, getting to know the people around me has become my favorite part of the job. I attend council meetings and events, conversing with officials because they know by now that I’m dedicated to my work. I joined Rotary, which has become a bright spot every week.

And a few weeks ago, I was asked by Ingram to present Getwood with a proclamation from the city during the Motown and More show. An official signed-by-the-mayor proclamation claiming that day as Taylor Getwood Day. I was honored just to be asked, much-less to actually do it. Meanwhile, Taylor had no idea.

And even as he sat beside me (when he sat, because that man was all over the place dancing), I had the signed and sealed document under my seat, and he never noticed.

While I don’t typically cover Port Arthur ISD, Taylor and I have become rather close over the course of my time here in Port Arthur. It started with basic news stories, but — as I said Thursday night to those at the show — our true bonding moment came on Juneteenth. While I was at the Port Arthur courthouse, sitting under a concrete pillar and filming the show, a cell phone seemingly fell from nowhere and landed on my head. A gentleman standing beside me picked it up and put it back, no one stepping up to claim it as theirs. But it was later, while scrolling through Facebook, I saw Taylor’s video of the event. And then I saw my head and my feet.

I’ve been proud to consider him a friend ever since.

We all know he’s the youngest trustee in PAISD history, and that he’s worked hard as an elected official to serve the community of Port Arthur. But it wasn’t until reading the proclamation that I truly understood how much he’s accomplished in just 19 years.

Port Arthur is lucky to have him.

To those who were in attendance, please excuse my shaking voice. There’s a reason I’m in print media. A public speaker I am not. But nerves or not, standing there reading an official city proclamation was as special to me as it was to Taylor.

After he thanked everyone for the proclamation, he jokingly ended his speech by saying, “Taylor for president.”

But something tells me the possibility is not that far from the truth.

Monique Batson is the Port Arthur Newsmedia editor and can be reached at