Clash of the Choirs
Two Oklahoma Christian University students took part in “Clash of the Choirs,” a hit NBC talent contest miniseries which aired live four consecutive nights in December.
The reality show challenged five celebrity musicians to return to their hometowns and assemble choirs to compete in New York City for a $250,000 donation to a charity in their state. The remaining teams received a $50,000 donation, all courtesy of NBC parent company General Electric.
Country star, Blake Shelton, and his choir of 20 Oklahomans took third place and two of his singers, Robin Michelle Taylor and Raymond Mobley, said the experience changed their lives.
“I’ve met some really awesome people who have given me great career advice,” Taylor, vocal studies junior, said. “I was actually giving up on what I want to do in life, which is to perform. I had auditioned for all types of shows at OC and they had rejected me constantly. Then I got this—NBC wanted me. It kind of revived what I wanted to do in life and made me feel talented. I always felt I was talented; I always knew I had something special.”
The competition was steep. Shelton’s choir faced off against those directed by pop singer/reality TV star, Nick Lachey; soft rock superstar, Michael Bolton; R&B singer-songwriter, Patti LaBelle; and former Destiny’s Child, Kelly Rowland.
Team Lachey won first place, and the grand prize donation went to Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati. Team LaBelle came out second, for Lift Our Voices, an organization dedicated to cancer screenings for African-Americans. Team Shelton’s third place award money went to Army MWR (Morale Welfare Recreation) and Project Rebuild, a disaster relief organization.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Mobley, family studies senior, said. “They were long days. We had to be there 14—16 hours a day, so it got pretty long, but it wasn’t too bad. A lot of times, we’d end up taking naps during the day. We’d have a quiet time in the room where we could sleep if we wanted to sleep because we really didn’t get a lot of it.”
“It was fun and crazy and hectic, and everything I want my life to be,” Taylor said. “It was time-consuming and it was just a whirlwind that I didn’t want to end.”
The team, ages ranging from 19 to those in their fifties, arrived December 13 to rehearse and become familiar with the other members. On some days, they had wake-up calls at 6:30 a.m. and had to be downstairs by 7 a.m. They would be busy until the show ended and wouldn’t get back to the hotel until midnight, just to sleep for a few hours and start the process all over again the next day.
“It was indescribable, but more than anything it showed me how hard I need to work to achieve my goal. And now I’m ready to work,” Taylor said. “Everything had some kind of dance to it. We danced our booties off. I thought it was pretty awesome.”
On the first night of the competition, Team Shelton started off with Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway,” which began with a solo from Mobley. Other songs the group sang included “Takin’ It to the Streets” by the Doobie Brothers, Marc Broussard’s “Home,” Shelton’s “This Can’t Be Good” and a medley of both Three Dog Night’s and the traditional version of “Joy to the World.”
“We had two Army guys in our groups who actually went down to Fort Sill and auditioned there. The first night, General Electric gave $250,000 to army veterans. They presented it while we were on stage,” Mobley said.
“[Shelton] was just hilarious,” he said. “He would joke constantly about anything. He was a real down-to-earth kind of guy. It really surprised me how easy he was to talk to and work with. He was just like one of us. That was pretty cool.”
“It was just an amazing experience,” Taylor said. “We got to meet some wonderful people, [Mobley and I] met at ‘Clash of the Choirs’ and got to know each other, and now he’s one of the coolest people I know.”
Neither Taylor nor Mobley expected much to come from their auditions, and even that step took some convincing.
“My wife was the reason I auditioned,” Mobley said. “I wasn’t even going to but a friend of hers e-mailed me about it the day before auditions. I wasn’t really going to do it because it was such late notice but my wife said, ‘You have to do it.’ It all worked out.”
“When I made this, it really revived my spirit and made me see the worth of myself again,” Taylor said. “I’m definitely going to be auditioning more.”
Mobley agreed. “If I could do music for the rest of my life I would. It’s something that I really enjoy doing, so I’m going to continue to try to pursue it in one way or another.”