For the choir members representing the city of Cincinnati on NBC’s holiday show Clash of the Choirs, the experience was nothing short of harmonious.
Nick Lachey’s 20-member choir, made up of individuals from Cincinnati, won the $250,000 prize, which went to the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati-Lachey’s charity of choice.
Clash of the Choirs was a four-night live competition that began Dec. 17 and featured five celebrities directing choirs from their respective hometowns to benefit a hometown charity. Other celebrity directors included Michael Bolton (New Haven, Conn.), Patti LaBelle (Philadelphia, Pa.) Blake Shelton (Okalahoma City, Okla.) and Kelly Rowland (Houston, Texas).
Helping to bring home a win for Cincinnati were three Miami University students-senior Lisa Baldwin, senior Christy Ledden, and junior Jordan Thompson-all who describe the relationship that grew between the choir members as one of the best parts of being on part of the show.
“The best part for me was performing with people who were so goal oriented and actually cared for each other,” Ledden said, who referred to the other choir members as a second family.
Ledden also emphasized that the choir continues to support one another, even though the show is over.
“I have my senior recital Wednesday night and I think 18 of them are coming,” Ledden said. “It is neat to see how people are so supportive.”
Thompson echoed Ledden’s thoughts.
“There were so many wonderful things about (being a part of the show) but for me forming relationships with the other people in the choir, making new friends … sharing the journey that started six weeks ago and becoming a family was the most enjoyable part,” Thompson said.
Also ranking high among memorable experiences for the Miami students was the excitement of winning.
“Winning in itself, that was a great memory right there,” Baldwin said. “All week long Patti’s choir received all this hype and everyone just assumed her choir was going to win … We never assumed we would win, but our goal was just to get to Thursday night and sing all our songs. Standing on the risers when they announced Blake had come in third and then announced us as the winner, it was such an unbelievable moment, it was just so surreal, it was like all my birthdays and Christmases rolled up. It was a great moment and we ran into the center of the stage … it was kind of like a riot. We were all just crying and just so emotional that the journey had come to an end.”
To get to this moment the choir songs such as “Unwritten,” “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places,” “Flight of the Bumblebee,” “What’s Left of Me,” “All I Want for Christmas,” “What a Wonderful World,” and “Sing a Song.”
While all the songs were difficult in their own right, the students all mentioned “Flight of the Bumblebee” as particularly challenging.
” ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ (was challenging) because it was so fast and your mouth kind of goes numb after a while and you have to have good breath support to say ‘never, never, never’ so fast,” Baldwin said.
To prepare for the song Thompson said that one choir member actually gave the other members a CD with just the sound of a metronome clicking on it to help them get ready.
Yet, performing a song of such caliber proved to be particularly rewarding.
For Ledden, this was her favorite song they performed, as she said when the choir first looked at it, with eight parts and no words, it looked impossible. However, their hard work paid off because there were a million more votes the night they performed it.
“There wasn’t a rehearsal that we didn’t work on that song-and we rehearsed a lot,” Thompson noted.
The donation the choir won for the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati will go toward providing “giraffe beds” for the Regional Center for Newborn Intensive Care (RCNIC) and “isolettes,” which help the transport team carry babies to the hospital, according to Laura Klumb, assistant vice president for development at the hospital.
Klumb also noted that a gift of this size is wonderful because it allows the hospital to purchase high cost items that otherwise would take the hospital years to raise the money for.
Another thing choir members could not stop singing praises about was the direction they received from Lachey and choir master Steve Zegree.
“Nick was great. He was very friendly, very caring and generous with his time,” Thompson said. “I don’t know for sure because I wasn’t in the other groups, but he seemed to be the most passionate celeb. He wanted us to win and he was humble.”
Lachey’s caring and generosity also made an impact on Ledden.
“Nick and his girlfriend, Vanessa Minnillo, spoiled us rotten,” Ledden said, mentioning an end of the competition celebration where Lachey took the choir members and their family and friends on a yacht cruise around New York Harbor. This cruise also produced another memorable moment, as the choir members stopped in front of the Statue of Liberty and sang “What a Wonderful World.”
Baldwin also mentions Lachey’s dedication to the group as one of the reasons for their success.
“You see him on TV and he comes off as a really nice guy, and in real life he is an extremely nice guy,” Baldwin said. “He would do everything in his power to make us look good.”
Baldwin also mentioned that he was down to earth and took the time to sit down and chat with the choir members-even chatting with the Miami students about the school that he once attended.
However for the 20 members of the choir, winning Clash of the Choirs was not the ending, but just the beginning, as they have continued to rehearse together since the end of the show, and will even be performing with Lachey at a benefit for AIDS in South Africa Jan. 18 in the Music Hall Ballroom.
“We are just trying to figure out what type of group we want to be,” Baldwin said.