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December 21, 2007

Another win for a cappella!

Nick Lachey unveils his secret weapon - a cappella - and proceeds to steal the show with "Flight of the Bumble Bee." Big congratulations to Steve Zegree for the arrangement and surely a nod to the King's Singers for one of their signature pieces

The Cincinnati Post (OH):

Nick Lachey's Cincinnati choral group was dubbed "America's ultimate choir" Thursday night at the end of the NBC four-night reality competition "Clash of the Choirs." The vocal group, formed just six weeks ago, beat out the other two finalists - Patti LaBelle's Philadelphia choir and Blake Shelton's Oklahoma City group.

After the Cincinnati choir performed a sweetly understated version of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," Lachey teared up on the show when praising the group. "These people have blown my mind," he said. "To be so fearless and so courageous in front of millions of people watching on TV ... it's incredible. I've done this 10 years and I'm petrified. These people have taught me so much."

The choir's victory means a $250,000 donation for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. In a surprise, it was also announced that each of the four other choirs would receive $50,000 for a charitable project in their hometowns. Kelly Rowland 's Houston choir departed on Tuesday, followed by Michael Bolton's New Haven, Conn., group on Wednesday.

The Cincinnati group also performed an uplifting version of Earth Wind and Fire's "Sing a Song" on the show. But the Thursday performances were just for show, as the winner apparently was determined from viewer voting after Wednesday's edition. That night the Cincinnati choir performed a show stopping a cappella version of "Flight of the Bumblebee." It was a risk- taking, tremendously experimental number and a challenging production for a recently formed amateur group. It was in sharp contrast to LaBelle's more traditional, yet powerful, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," the other strong Wednesday night performance.

LaBelle was not exactly a gracious loser. Some quotes from today's Philadelphia Inquirer, "It was a ripoff - somebody stole it from me" ... "I'm still a winner, you know what I mean? I'm not taking anything away from Nick Lachey" ... "I'm 63, he's about 2". ... "It's called 'Clash of the Choirs,' not 'Clash of the Popularity.'"

Perhaps the unseen and unsung hero for the Cincinnati group was Steve Zegree, a Western Michigan University jazz professor, who came up with the arrangements and coached the choir. His work creatively stretched the traditional definition of a choral group. Indeed, his scat-singing "Bumblebee" owed more to a Bobby McFerrin-style jazz ensemble than a choral group.

NBC extended the Thursday finale to two hours after strong ratings for the previous three shows. Nationally, the show averaged 7.9 million viewers. Cincinnati's reputation as a strong reality show market likely helped in the viewer voting. In this market, the show had been No. 1 all week in its time slot, pulling in an 11.7 rating Wednesday on WLWT-TV (Channel 5). That translates to about 103,000 tri-state households watching.

The 20-member choir, selected from about 350 people who showed up to audition at Walnut Hills High School in November, was a diverse group ranging from professionals to college students. There were choir directors, teachers, a nurse, fast-food workers and salesmen.

The show provided the area with possibly its best positive publicity in years. In fact, one of the last national honors for the area also involved music as Esquire magazine named Cincinnati one of "Ten Cities That Rock" in a 2004 piece.

The show also helped Lachey, raised in College Hill and a graduate of the School For Creative and Performing Arts, endear himself to his hometown. The former 98 Degrees member came across as a caring, down-to-earth guy after he and ex-wife Jessica Simpson had been tabloid fodder for months during their divorce. "America thanks you. Cincinnati thanks you," Lachey said to his choir at the close of the show, as they celebrated on stage hugging, dancing and pumping their fists in the air.

Posted by acapnews at December 21, 2007 10:51 PM


You know I've been singing since before I started in school (1947)and I still sing in a church choir, a registered Barbershop Quartet and Barbershop Chorus. Although I love Barbershop and it's sound, you gotta admit that when you add women to the mix, all the orchestra sounds are then really there. I sure did enjoy listening to the Nick Lachey's choral group. GREAT SOUND!!!

Posted by: Doug Mac Farlane at December 26, 2007 1:59 PM

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