Summing it All Up

December 27, 2007

I’ve had lots of excuses for failing to post anything new in the last six weeks. The biggest one is that in order to work on CLASH OF THE CHOIRS (for NBC — did you watch it?) I had to sign a confidentiality agreement stating I wouldn’t go around talking about the show. And since that project took up every hour of my every single day from Thanksgiving to Christmas, there wasn’t much I could write about, and even if there had been, there wasn’t time to write, anyway. I don’t know if I’ve ever worked on something that consumed so much of my time. Truly, I woke up and checked my email, then started dealing with things for the show until my husband finally screamed at me to log off and come to bed somewhere around midnight. In the midst of all that, somehow the Christmas tree got decorated, the presents got wrapped and the babysitter made a fortune.

I’m going to share just a little bit about the show and specifically my role in it. The show was a reality TV competition featuring five stars who went back to their hometowns and each hand-picked 20 singers to form a choir. Those five choirs rehearsed (in five different cities) for 40 hours each and then came to NY and competed in a sing-off on national TV. The winning celebrity got $250,000 donated to his chosen local charity, and the others each got $50,000 donated to their chosen charities, as well. (Click here to see some YouTube footage.) I was the assistant music director, which means I handled all things musical from choosing the songs (along with a team of several other people from network execs to choirmasters to celebrity managers) to supervising the choirmasters and their arrangements to conducting the orchestra (in rehearsal only — the magnificent Nigel Wright conducted them for the actual TV shows) to overseeing audio for the TV broadcast.

What I loved about the show was how very much in the spirit of the holiday it was. Everything was in the spirit of good will and good fun, and the attention paid to the charities was lovely and sincere. Nobody said anything mean-spirited (well, at least not on the air). Also, there’s something extremely bonding about groups of people that are thrown together in intense situations for short amounts of time. (Those of us in the theater know this to be true.) Those choirs were made up of unlikely mixes of people and I’m told several of them are still very close. The winning team, led by Nick Lachey, has been asked to perform several future engagements — a Cincinnati Reds game, a corporate event, and even possibly singing back up on Nick’s next album– so I get the sense they’re going to continue to be a choir. Hopefully the others will do the same.

I made some great friendships with some great musicians and I’d like particularly to draw attention to the five choirmasters who did fantastic behind-the-scenes work making real music and celebrating the choral arts with their choirs of amateurs. Take a look at these five diverse talents.

Kim Burse, for Kelly Rowland

Gary Eckert, for Blake Shelton

Steve Zegree, for Nick Lachey

John Stanley, for Patti LaBelle

Shelton Becton, for Michael Bolton

You’d be lucky to cross paths with any of these fine musicians.

So, the biggest stress of my life, aside from the usual stress of working at such a high level of pressure on such tight deadlines, is that the day I arrived in NYC to start working on the live shows, I left my computer in the back of a cab. The first wave of panic was the “how-am-I-ever-going-to-get-my-work-done” kind of panic, followed quickly by the “oh-my-God-everything-I’ve-ever-written-is-on-that-computer” panic and the third and most lasting panic was the “what-if-someone-tries-to-steal-my-identity-and-wipe-out-my-bank-account” kind of panic.

So, the production rented me a computer to get through the week, the hard-drive backups I’ve been doing at home seem to have worked, and the fraud alert I placed on all my accounts has so far had no activity. So my best hope is that whoever found my computer wiped it clean and gave it to himself for Christmas. Lucky me — I had to buy another one. My friend Marcy Heisler tells me to enjoy the “clean slate” feeling, and that’s a good way to wrap up this last post of 2007. Look forward to your clean slate of the new year, and for God’s sake — ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR WORK!

Happy New Year, everyone, and thanks for reading.


1 thought on “Summing it All Up”

  1. Nick on said:

    just checked out some clips on youtube. patti labelle is fierce, and her choir was awesome. who made up rhythm section of the band?

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