AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – When the subject of music is mentioned in Augusta, Trey McLaughlin is one of the first names that comes to mind and comes out of most people’s mouths.

Not only is McLaughlin a well-known national and international singer/songwriter performing and conducting workshops in Spain, France, Denmark, and Poland, he also serves as the Artistic Director of the acclaimed organization, Creative Impressions. 

McLaughlin sits down with WJBF News Channel 6 Digital to discuss Creative Impressions’ production, Behold The Star.

Trey, thank you for sitting down with us. Now, let’s start from the beginning. How did you get started with music?

Oh, wow. I was directing my mom’s perfume bottles and lining up my toys as early as 4 years old just teaching them parts so it’s kind of been in me ever since then. I’ve started groups in every school at every age. So, that was the beginning of my journey and when I realized I could do it professionally, I never wanted to do anything else.

Creative Impressions, also known as CI, was founded in 1996, but for those who are unfamiliar with this organization, can you give us a little background?

Creative Impressions is comprised of youth ages 11 to 18 from all different schools in the county and some from outside of the county. It was started in 1996 by our founder, the Reverend Evelyn Ellis, who was the head director when I was in the school when I was in school while I attended Davidson Fine Arts. She gave me my start in leadership in music. She founded the group to give youth musical experiences greater than what they would be accustomed to, and it blossomed from there. The mission is to save just one, and the goal is to empower youth through the creative and performing arts.

Now Creative Impressions has a production coming up entitled Creative Impressions presents Behold The Star, which is on December 17th at the Maxwell Performing Arts Center on the Augusta University campus. Can you tell us about the production?

Behold The Star is one of our biggest fundraisers for the year. It is a huge Christmas show; we call it a Christmas kaleidoscope. Basically, it includes lots of different styles of holiday music. There is dancing, acting, and of course, singing. We really have a good time putting it together. For a lot of the kids, this is their first big production. It is also an opportunity for our alum to come back and perform with the kids from all different years, from as far back as 1996. We didn’t do it for the past two years because of the pandemic; I believe the last one was in 2019. So, we are super excited to present it again. Also, this allows this new group of kids to experience the excitement of just being a part of a large production. It’s an amazing show. I think people should come out to see it.

Now, Trey, you are a legend here in Augusta. You have done a lot of great things. You have your own group, The Sounds of Zamar. What made you start this whole journey?

I never wanted to do anything else. I kind of fell into it after college after getting invited to sing places. I’m kind of reserved; I’m laid back except when I’m on stage. So, I asked my friends to come along and sing with me, and then from there, people started calling us “Trey and ‘nem.” Then, I was like, “Well, we might as well name ourselves.” Then, we started the whole YouTube journey, and people started singing our arrangements. But Creative Impressions was a big part of getting me started with that because if Miss Ellis hadn’t given me the platform to be able to express myself creatively and teach my peers my arrangements and all that kind of stuff, I don’t think I would be where I am today just because of the impact that being a part of a group like Creative Impressions had on me as a young person.

So, what’s next for you?

Right now, just trying to get through this Christmas production. Zamar has some stuff coming up next year. Creative Impressions is currently in its 26th year, which is just amazing within itself. We’re taking in as many new students as we can. Any youth in the area ages 11 to about 18 years of age that are looking to do something in arts, even if they are unsure if they have any skill, we would love to have them. We rehearse at Tabernacle Baptist Church (on Laney Walker Boulevard) on Tuesdays at 6 P.M. so we would love for them to come out and audition even after this Christmas production.

How can people get tickets for Behold The Star or if they want more information about the production or Creative Impressions, how can they do so?

You can look us up on social media: CIArts or Creative Impressions. They can go to our website, creative-impressions.org. They can go to the Ticketmaster of Augusta University Maxwell Performing Arts Theater.  Tickets are available the day of the show, but we are asking people to go ahead and pre-order them through the Augusta University Ticketmaster site.

Creative Impressions presents Behold The Star on December 17th at the Maxwell Performing Arts Theater on the Augusta University campus.