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Jason Raff Clash of the Choirs

Published December 16, 2007 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders.
Clash of the Choirs Clash of the Choirs

The latest reality music competition has the biggest twist yet. Clash of the Choirs has five popular musical artists mentor a choir of 20 young singers, teaching them to sing pop songs. Producer Jason Raff explained how such a unique idea came to the air.

The Idea Behind Clash of the Choirs


"I think NBC had just followed a trend of just choirs, not only in the US, but you start seeing them more in commercials," he said. "Also in international markets, there seemed to be some shows that revolved around choirs. They thought it would be a good idea. I just think in our show, you might think of like gospel choirs right off the bat, but I think the show is trying to show that there’s lots of forms of music. All our artists come from different genres and they’ll be performing genres even outside of what you typically would think of a Patti LaBelle or a Michael Bolton. Regardless, the music that they chose is the same things that you get when you hear choir, which is kind of inspirational music, uplifting music, even if it is a song by Bon Jovi."

Unlike some of his competitors, Raff's show will not berate the contestants. "Even the competition, you have this team of people who are not doing it for individual gain. Even on my other show America’s Got Talent, they’re playing for $1 million. In this case, you know, Michael Bolton and Patti [LaBelle] and their choir are playing for charities in their hometowns that are so important to all of them. So I think that makes the show unique. Also, we’re not having a three panel judge like is so typical on television reality competition shows. In our show, after Michael Bolton performs with his choir or his choir performs, the other musical artists are going to make their comments. So Patti and Nick [Lachey] and Blake [Shelton] will all comment on Michael’s choir’s performance, but it would be up to the American public solely to determine who moves on in the competition based on the interactive voting."



The entire competition airs over four nights, and the choirs have only had a little bit more time to practice. "Because of the competition, we’ve had to be fairly even. So it’s about three weeks. It’s more in rehearsal hours, which is 40 rehearsal hours each choir will have. That took place in about three weeks, which is terrifying, I might add and I’m sure Patti and Michael in the beginning felt the same way in that we only had two rules on this show basically for auditions. One was they had to be over 18 and they couldn’t be a professional. So Patti and Michael could not pick their 20 best background singers. I know I was a little bit terrified, seeing in just three short weeks if these musical artists could take 20 strangers who never had sang professionally, never been on TV, and in three weeks, transform the into one voice that sings on live television."

Should the show take off, it will already be over within the week. Raff does have plans for a possible future Clash. "This is a fairly selfless act when you consider that even if you were a soloist and a member of a 20-piece choir, it’s a team sport and they really are playing for giving this charitable gift back to their community and being hometown heroes. I think that just in our experience so far, without actually being on air, is that the process itself of watching these musical artists pick their choirs and train them and inspire them would be a great [series]. I’d love to do it again."

Clash of the Choirs airs December 17th through the 20th on NBC.
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Fred Topel
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