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June 27, 2009

7 million YouTube hits make NYC kids' choir famous

They're a bunch of regular grade school kids, but their fans include Ashton Kutcher, Tori Amos and Perez Hilton — plus millions of YouTube viewers. A New York fifth-grade chorus that first appeared on an online video has become world-famous, a cyber-phenomenon touted by top media outlets, celebrities and politicians. And yet, the young singers from Public School 22 have rarely left Staten Island, a water-ringed New York City borough reached by ferry from Manhattan.

The question is, how does one pull off such a publicity feat? It was hardly an accident.

Much of the credit goes to a music teacher who apparently is a natural at public relations. "A friend in advertising told me that if I ever want to leave teaching, I should come and work for them," jokes the children's music director, Gregg Breinberg.

About three years ago, he taught his kids to sing the group Coldplay's hit single "Viva la Vida" and posted the performance on YouTube, followed by a Tori Amos song. "They've reached the world strictly by Internet," says Breinberg.

One day, gossip blogger Perez Hilton came across them on YouTube singing the Amos song in a Manhattan atrium — with Amos tearing up as she listened. Hilton was bowled over by the innocent-sounding voices that matched faces exuding energy and personality. He posted the link on his blog, triggering a deluge of interest that made the clip one of the top 10 YouTube videos.

Since then, the P.S. 22 Chorus has been featured on television and in major newspapers, while 7 million viewers have watched them on YouTube, and counting. The chorus even popped up on Kutcher's Twitter feed. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at June 27, 2009 3:08 PM

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