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September 14, 2005

Jingle All The Way

Flint Journal (MI):

A last-minute, quickly produced song arrangement and video by Flint's vocal group Peaceful Authority has won the group the opportunity to compete this month in Los Angeles for the chance to sing a nationally known jingle for Oreo cookies in radio commercials. "We Fed Ex-ed it in," says Alfino Donastorg of Flint, a member of the group, about the entry into the Oreo jingle contest in mid-July. "We were close to the deadline when we heard about it. We didn't think we had enough time, but then we decided, ah, we'll try it."

Donastorg, 40, a Flint police officer, is in the group with his friends and fellow officers Michael West, 41; Tyrone Booth, 33; and GM worker Alghandi Phillips, 33. They were notified late in August that they were one of 10 groups, bands or individuals who were chosen to be finalists in the jingle contest. "I heard about the contest on the radio," says Booth, "and by the time we checked it out, there were only a few days left."

With a group composed of guys who have jobs, families and assorted responsibilities, it's not always easy for Peaceful Authority to get together to perform and rehearse, let alone create a video-taped audition for this jingle contest, Donastorg says. They perform a wide variety of music, from gospel to pop, in a harmonious vocal style, and have appeared around the area in performances ranging from police memorial services and fund-raisers for churches to a Detroit Lions game. On Sunday, Peaceful Authority participated in "Cliostock," a concert that raised thousands of dollars for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

But in July, they created a simple, brief, yet effective, entry in the Oreo jingle contest that won one of 10 finalists positions in the competition. Judges for the cookie manufacturer chose five from entries like theirs, that were mailed in, and another five from live auditions that were held in cities in different regions around the country. The winner will be chosen Sept. 22 in Los Angeles at Universal Studios. Peaceful Authority got its place among the finalists with Billy Joel's a cappella 1984 hit, "The Longest Time," but adapted with the Oreo jingle lyrics.

About two weeks after overnighting their entry to the judges, they heard they had been chosen to be in the contest's finals - something that won the group $1,000 and a trip to the West Coast. The winning performer or performers will get $10,000 and record the jingle for Oreo radio commercials. This will be done at the studio of recording producer Randy "The Dawg" Jackson, music producer and former rock bass player who's familiar to millions of "American Idol" viewers. Whatever happens in L.A., the men say it's been exciting to be in the finals of the contest. It's been nearly 20 years since West and Donastorg first sang together back in junior high school and met again in 1994 at the Flint Police Academy. They formed Peaceful Authority in 2001.

I've heard of these jingle contests in the past and know several singers who make money performing them. One of the most successful is in quite a small market but still does very well. Cleverly arranged and sung a cappella jingles are the staple of many commercial radio stations. Why we even have our own jingle sung and arranged by Naturally Seven. I'll post info on the next contest I hear about. (A cappella trivia - Richard Greene of the Bobs was that deep bass that sung the ubiquitous Gap's jingle "Fall Into The Gap" for many, many years.)

Posted by acapnews at September 14, 2005 9:48 PM