CASPER, Wyo. — Chatty students filed into Kelly Walsh High School’s green gymnasium bleachers Monday afternoon to see former Casper resident and The Voice phenom McChale Aquile Gunby perform in the halls of his alma mater.
“It’s a dream realized, really, that’s all it is,” Gunby said before he took the stage. “It feels weird, it’s like it’s surreal. Then again, I’ve also daydreamed about this stuff.”
Kelly Walsh principal Brad Diller said the administration was “more than happy to accommodate him” when he got the call saying Gunby was interested in playing a show at his old high school.
“There are a lot of talented kids here,” Diller said. “They’re all looking for the fairytale story, and it doesn’t just happen without a lot of work.”
Backpacks slung under seats and over shoulders, students steadied outstretched iPhones to take video of the show.
Kelly Walsh senior Annika Andrus said she added Gunby as a friend on Facebook on Monday night.
“His whole entire story and everything, it’s just a really cool story,” Andrus said. “He’s just showing everyone up today. Basically, like, I can do what you said I could never do.”
John Fanto, a junior, said he saw Gunby perform at Highland Park Community Church last weekend. He was shocked to learn Gunby would be performing at Kelly Walsh.
“And I’m glad to get out of class to hear this guy again,” Fanto said.
Two weeks ago, Gunby’s debut on "The Voice" — NBC’s celebrity-judged singing talent show — earned him big nods from stars Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Ceelo Green.
“I just have a lot of roots here, a lot of friends and family in Casper,” Gunby said. “I want to show people that anything’s achievable.”
A soulful cover of a current top hit started the crowd clapping and singing along as students realized they knew the words.
And after the round of raucous applause died down, a smiling Gunby looked out at the crowd and said simply: “That was fun, huh?”