By Mr. William Bradner (FMWRC)December 17, 2007
Two Soldiers from Fort Sill, Okla., will step onto the stage Monday and perform live on NBC's newest holiday special, "Clash of the Choirs."
The two soldiers were among twelve who auditioned in Oklahoma City to become part of Blake Shelton's hometown choir. Shelton's choir will compete against four others, each hand selected by a music legend, in a four-day live mini-series. The choirs will be judged by the viewing audience as they compete in a variety of music genres ranging from current hits to holiday classics.
The other four choirs were chosen and coached by Kelly Rowland in Houston, Nick Lachey in Cincinatti, Michael Bolton in New Haven, Conn., and Patti LaBelle in Philadelphia.
Victor Hurtado, Development Director for the Army Entertainment Division, arranged for a special casting call for members of the military one week before Shelton selected his choir.
"The original intent was to have an all-service choir compete as one of the five," Hurtado said. "Unfortunately, with so little time to work with, that wasn't possible."
When Blake Shelton signed onto the show in Oklahoma City, Hurtado assured NBC producers that he could bring some military presence to the show from Fort Sill.
"It turns out, Shelton's choir is the only one with military members in it," Hurtado said. "We had to call in the cavalry (artillery, actually) to have a chance to beat Patti Labelle," he quipped.
The winning choir will receive $250,000 in prize money. Since the soldiers cannot accept the prize money for the appearance, their portion of the winning will be donated to the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command to help fund programs and activities that improve Soldiers' quality of life.
The Soldiers have spent two weeks on permissive TDY status training with Shelton's choir, and will be in New York this weekend conducting rehearsals and making public appearances.
"This is a wild ride for the choirs," Hurtado explained, "trying to bring strangers up to national-broadcast-quality in such a short period of time. From what I've seen, it's going to be an incredible show."