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Students in 'Clash of the Choirs'

Friday, January 18, 2008  
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By Sarah Gogarty

Over the Holiday break, two Oklahoma Christian University students were put in the spotlight on national television. Senior Raymond Mobley and junior Robin Taylor made it on NBC’s new reality show “Clash of the Choirs.”

A four-night event filmed in New York City, “Clash of the Choirs” had five musical celebrities assemble an amateur choir and prepare them to compete on live television against the four other choirs. America’s votes throughout the show determined the team that was America’s best choir.

Musicians Michael Bolton, Patti LaBelle, Nick Lachey, Kelly Rowland and Blake Shelton were the celebrity directors for the first season.

The Oklahoma team, led by Shelton had few opportunities to prepare before they left for the taping of the show in New York.

“Every choir practiced around 40 hours before they left for New York City, but for the Oklahoma Team, it was during that snow storm so it was kind of tough for everyone to get there,” Mobley said.

Mobley and Taylor got a late start on their applications for their auditions for the show. Mobley first heard about the experience the night before the first audition from a friend at the university. The late notice combined with uncertainty made Mobley unsure if he would apply until he spoke with his wife.

“I wanted to [apply], but it was one of those things I didn’t know if I could do it or if I would make it,” Mobley said. “She just said, ‘Hey, you might as well try and see what happens.’”

With his wife behind him, Mobley went for the first audition and made it to the second round. At the second audition, Shelton chose the top 20 out of 50 people for his choir and Mobley was one.

Taylor, the other Oklahoma Christian students that made the choir, had a little different experience.

Taylor heard about the Clash of the Choirs auditions three times before deciding. The first two times she saw the information online but was not sure that reality television was where she wanted to go. The third time she heard it she decided to give it a little more thought.

“Dr. Adams sent a notice to all the chorale members saying you should try to audition and see what this is all about,” Taylor said. “I said well that’s three times, I’ll take it.”

Still, Taylor was not sure if she was going to try for the audition; so, she let a little more time pass before she made her final decision.

“I was at work, and [auditions] were the next night, and I thought, I think I’m going to do it. What could it hurt?,” Taylor said. “So that night, I called my friend and we went through the application together and just figured it out.”

The selection process was just the beginning of the experience for both Oklahoma Christian students. The four days they shot the television show, they started around eight in the morning and went till around ten at night. The days were filled with group bonding, singing and dancing in preparation for the next performance and taking naps when possible.

“I just loved it,” Taylor said. “It was hectic, tiresome and long, but it was wonderful because for me it was exactly what I wanted.”

Taylor took numerous things from her experience with the show. From back stage to the live show, watching the other choirs perform and the different people she met, her experience allowed her to grow.

One person Taylor still keeps in contact with was a producer of the show. She showed a genuine interest in helping Taylor further her career.

“She tells me what I need to do and things I need to become; things I need to do to further my career,” Taylor said.

Mobley found this as a learning experience and an opportunity to sing with other people who are just as good if not better than himself.

“Musically, it was one of the best learning experiences, just getting the chance to be around 20 other people that have the same desire to do music and work in that way,” Mobley said. “They were all incredible singers. It helped me grow as a singer.”

Mobley has had many experiences with singing in his past, although this was by far his biggest venue. He has been in a choir since seventh grade, was in Oklahoma Christian’s Chorale as well as Chamber Singers, was part of Summer Singer for two years, and is currently in the university’s a cappella group New Reign.

In the future, if Mobley has the opportunity to work with music and have it as a career, he would take it, but he is happy with other plans as well.

Like Mobley, Taylor has had many experiences with singing.

“I’ve been blessed to do a lot of things in my life,” Taylor said.

Her highest accomplishment in singing was when she sang at Carnegie Hall when she was 17 years old.

“That’s nothing to sneeze at,” Taylor said.

Taylor has been part of choirs, choruses, a cappella groups, a performing art school, ensemble, many different shows, voice-overs, radio spots, promos and commercials.

“I’ve done it trying to reach for the stars,” Taylor said.

This was Taylor’s shot to start over. Before the show, she had been turned down for different things that she was interested in doing and decided to come to Oklahoma Christian to learn how to teach others music.

“I’m so grateful and blessed that God said ‘Go ahead and do it’, because I wasn’t going to,” Taylor said.

Mobley and Taylor agreed that though the experience was difficult at times, it was worth it in the end.


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