Thanks to a tip from a reader it’s a pleasure to highlight Barbara Kellam. Read the entire story on phillycom here.
Twenty amateur singers have been holed up at Mount Airy Presbyterian Church many nights as they rehearse for the NBC reality series Clash of the Choirs.
Premise: Five celebs – Patti LaBelle in Philly, Kelly Rowland in Houston, Michael Bolton in New Haven, Conn., Nick Lachey in Cincinnati, and Blake Shelton in Oklahoma City – choose and train 20-member choirs in their hometowns to sing on the four-night live series, starting Dec. 17 in New York.
“This is not your father’s choir,” says executive producer Jason Raff, immediately apologizing for the cliche. “They won’t be in robes holding song sheets.” The music and contestants are diverse. R&B star Rowland’s crew is rehearsing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Winners will fund a local charity; LaBelle’s is With Our Voices, a health-outreach program.
Juniata’s Tim Bolognone, 30, a Frankford High and Bob Jones U grad, apprentice in the cabinetmakers’ union, and worship leader at Grace Bible Church in Northeast Philly, has had some stage experience with a barbershop quartet, “but not in front of 11 million people.”
Frankford’s Barbara Kellam, an airline customer-service rep at Philadelphia International Airport, calls it “surreal” to have been chosen by LaBelle to represent Philly. “I’m seeing myself in commercials, and then I go to work,” marvels Kellam, daughter and granddaughter of singers. This is “my breakthrough year,” she says. “I was 315 pounds, had gastric-bypass surgery and lost 140 pounds. I also turned 30. I’m on fire!”
Rounding out LaBelle’s choir are Amanda Gordon and Liimu McGill of Glenside; Christina Blue of Trenton; Frank DiCristo of Media; Joshua Womer of Mount Pleasant Mills, Pa.; Lucas Lasagna of Allentown; Katie Romano of Norristown; and Philadelphians Arlyn Wolters, Danielle Baker, Darian Moore, Jessie Reed-Benton, J’onett DeVeaubray, Mary McClinnaham, Niesha Cherry, Rachael Sutliff, Robbie Cunningham, Sharon Gary-Dixon, and Shonse Hawkins.