BY JOHN KIESEWETTER
Nick Lachey’s Cincinnati choir opened to rave reviews in New York Monday night on NBC’s “Clash of the Choirs” premiere.
“They sounded incredible,” said country music star Blake Shelton, after Cincinnati singers’ rousing performance of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”
R&B singer Patti LaBelle, called the song by 20 Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky residents “wonderful.”
Said Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child: “I honestly have to say, ‘Go Cincinnati!’ You guys are great!”
The Cincinnat ensemble is competing with choirs and celebrities from four cities: Philadelphia (LaBelle), Oklahoma City (Shelton), Houston (Rowland) and New Haven, Conn. (Michael Bolton).
As with Fox’s “American Idol,” the No. 1 TV show last season, “Clash Of The Choirs” showed the good and off-beat auditions. NBC viewers saw Cincinnatians jumping rope, wearing funny T-shirts and one woman in a big yellow chicken costume.
Through auditions, viewers were introduced to Shonda Fowler, 33, a University Hospital nurse and Lachey’s 1992 School for Creative & Performing Arts classmate. She reminded him the he was her first kiss.
Cincinnati auditions also provided the first emotionally powerful moment, when Willrudale Underwood, 47, auditioned with his daughter, Arielle, 20, hours after his wife’s treatment for breast cancer.
Willrudale and Arielle were seen hugging while singing “Unwritten” on live TV, while his wife, Kathy, watched in the audience.
“I’m so excited to be here. This is a dream come true for me, to be able to sing with my daughter,” Willrudale told the national TV audience.
One choir will be eliminated on today’s show (8 p.m., Channels 5, 2), based on viewers’ votes after Monday’s show.
The remaining four will perform one song each tonight. Another choir will be eliminated at the opening of Wednesday’s show (8-10 p.m.), leaving three finalists to perform three songs each.
The winner – based strictly on viewers’ votes – will be announced on Thursday (8-9 p.m.). If the Lachey’s local choir wins, a $250,000 donation will be made to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center newborn intensive care unit.