Saturday, January 12, 2008

Team Lachey sings

Source: You can also find of Video of them Singing In Fountain Square

Members, swamped with offers, scramble to get act together

Besieged with local offers and hailed as celebrities, the Team Lachey singers from NBC's "Clash of the Choirs" are trying to figure out how often and where to perform together again - in town, or from coast to coast.

"Everything is a whirlwind," says Meghan Watkins, 24, of Mount Lookout, one of the 20 local vocalists who won NBC's live reality TV competition Dec. 17-20. They earned $250,000 for Children's Hospital Medical Center.

"I feel like it's been a dream, and I haven't fully woken up yet," says Kenny Smith, 42, choir director for the Southern Baptist and First Unitarian churches in Avondale. He has been recognized in restaurants and asked to sign autographs.

"Our lives have totally changed," says Smith of Mount Washington.

And they may be changing much more.

The 20 singers will meet this weekend to elect officers and discuss marketing and promotion.

They want to investigate the possibility of doing an "American Idol"-style national concert tour, commercials or a TV reality or variety show.

"We have a lot more talent here than just 20 singers or 20 dancers. We could perform as a quartet, or as duos, play the piano and musical instruments, or do sketches. We think we could put on a good 90-minute show," says Chuck Merk, 35, a Lakota West High School geometry teacher.

"We have to strike while the iron's hot," says Merk of Deerfield Township.

More than 800 grey-and-black "Team Cincinnati" shirts - like those worn by the choir on the TV show - have been sold here since the Dec. 20 "Choirs" finale watched by 8.1 million people. The group has "25 firm standing offers" to perform through August in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, Merk says.

After arriving home to a heroes' welcome three weeks ago, the choir has made only one appearance, a New Year's Eve concert on Fountain Square, without celebrity leader Nick Lachey.

They will perform for the first time here on Friday with Lachey, the former College Hill resident and 1991 School for Creative & Performing Arts graduate. Merk says the choir plans to sing only Lachey's "What's Left Of Me" at Music Hall Ballroom during a South African AIDS fundraiser organized by Cincinnati Country Day School students.

"We are not singing our whole set. We're saving that for the big 'thank you' concert being organized by Children's Hospital," Merk says.

Hospital officials are still working on a possible concert with Lachey, music director Steve Zegree and the choir. First they need a commitment from NBC, which wants to film the check presentation for next year's "Clash of the Choirs," says Amy Caruso, hospital spokesman.

"Once we get a date, then we can get Nick here and find a venue. We're pushing NBC as hard as we can to get this in place by the end of January," she says.

By that time, the choir should be organized and able to respond to the 25 requests to appear at everything from Taste of Blue Ash, the Findlay Market Opening Day parade and Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park. They've also been asked to perform at school concerts and nonprofit events, Merk says.

But first, the choir has to get its act together. For the week-long TV show, NBC provided the music, arrangements, choreography, director, rehearsal schedule and management of all details.

Now the 20 singers - total strangers two months ago - must find new arrangements, accompaniments, practice time, leadership, legal advice and funding, says choir member Scott Metcalf, 26, a Hyde Park software salesman and former financial analyst for Lionsgate Films in Hollywood.

Another issue is the group's name. The vocalists are using both "Team Lachey" and "Team Cincinnati," while waiting to hear if Lachey will let them use his name, Merk says.

And the singers are still waiting for Lachey to make good on his invitation for them to record a track with him on his new album, due out in spring.

For Metcalf, the choir experience continues to be "surreal." He's "scrambling to get this (financial) stuff together. I don't think we can wait until spring to do something."

A national tour would require money for a booking agent, promotion and travel. Merk wants to raise the money locally.

"A lot of what we want to do can't happen until we get some funding in Cincinnati," Merk says. "We believe that with all the positive PR we've brought to Cincinnati, that some company or person will give us financing to keep representing the city.

"We showed on national TV that we're capable of great things, and we're ready to expand on that. We're not setting our bar too low right now. We're riding an emotional high right now, and we want to take it to another level. We know we can do this."

One of Cincinnati's hottest fashion statements - the gray and black shirts worn by Team Lachey on NBC's "Clash of the Choirs" - can be found only at two stores: the Children's Hospital Medical Center gift shop and KS Designs in Westwood.

More than 800 shirts have been sold since the choir's New Year's Eve's concert on Fountain Square, their only public appearance since winning the reality TV competition Dec. 20.

Supplies are replenished daily by KS Designs, which prints the shirts, says Dennis Wall, a partner in KS Designs and father of choir member Nick Wall.

The price is $15. Proceeds from the gift shop benefit the hospital. KS Designs also is giving part of its retail shirt sales proceeds to the hospital.

Children's Hospital Gift Shop, 3333 Burnet Ave., Corryville. Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 12:30-3:30 p.m. weekends. Pick-up orders accepted at 513-636-4310. Order forms are posted at

KS Designs, 3044 Harrison Ave., Westwood. Open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Pick-up orders accepted at 513-241-5953.