Friday, January 30, 2009

A Record Deal?!? Whaaaaaaaaaa?!?

The writer of Friday's amazing article in The Guardian wrote that for the PS22 Chorus, "an album deal can't be far away." It turns out he may well be psychic, for things are indeed looking extremely promising for a major CD release from our favorite fifth grade phenoms!! Here's the story....

After being contacted by David Holmes, manager of Coldplay(!!!), who expressed interest in discussing the possibilities of a PS22 Chorus CD, we welcomed him to come join us for a chorus practice at the school. So he extended his flight back to L.A. to come see us, and arrived Friday morning at P.S.22 with another very kind representative from 3D Management, Christina Dunkley. We discussed our respective visions and various possibilities with regard to the project, and it was gratifying to see that the work we do was being taken extremely seriously. After some discussion, our guests were treated to a mini-concert of 6 or 7 songs. Here is a new version of "My Drive Thru" by Santogold, Pharrell, Julian Casablancas, & N.E.R.D..

When I got home from an awesome day at "work", I got a call from the president of Polydor Records, Ferdy Unger-Hamilton, AND Keane's manager, Adam Tudhope, both completely unaware that we had already established a connection with David! To be contacted by such important people in the music industry all at once, has to be taken as a definite indication of exciting things on the way for the chorus. As it turns out, David has worked with Ferdy before, so it is a definite possibility that we may be joining forces. While serious negotiations have only begun, it's just wild to know that this unprecedented event (to my knowledge), of a public school chorus CD being distributed by a major label, is even a possibility!.

The PS22 Chorus with Coldplay management, David & Christina

This is all very surreal and hard to digest, but big things do seem to be on the way for the little chorus that could! With the release of the Passion Pit CD, and now this, it looks like 2009 is going to be some year for the PS22 Chorus! And we couldn't be prouder!


An awesome article appeared in the U.K. paper The Guardian, the British version of the N.Y. Times (which ran a feature about the chorus just last month)!! It was awesome to get this kind of international exposure, and a total surprise! Big thanks to Chris Zane of Passion Pit who forwarded me the article. Click here to read it on The Guardian's website.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

PS22 Chorus in FADER Magazine!!

Last week, when we were recording with Passion Pit in Manhattan, we were all joined in the studio by reps from FADER Magazine. They brought along a camera crew, and did an exclusive feature on the band's recording process. The band and Chris Zane, the producer, were awesome to arrange to have the magazine's visit coincide with that of the kids. So naturally, the video spent a lot of time showing the rising stars of the PS22 Chorus in action! It's important to note that Fader Magazine is an extremely important showcase of new talent in the music business! The kids are definitely on their way! Especially when considering that they've been the featured video on the home page of FADER Magazine since it went up on the site yesterday. So press play on the above video, and get ready to behold something extremely special.....

Alumni Alert!

The past two months has seen the return of many of our favorite alumni! (Above you can see chorus alum of 2008, Isaiah, with our very own Mrs. Johnson.) Below you can see (and hear!) some more of your favorite chorus members of years past, and get a sense of who they are today. Two of them, Isaiah and Justin, are being considered for a major cable television show that is in development! We'll keep you posted....

Justin, PS22 Chorus of 2007, sings "Us Against The World" by Christina Milian!

B.F.F. Alex, PS22 Chorus member of 2007!

Sheria, PS22 Chorus member of 2003!

Carmelo, PS22 Chorus member of 2002!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Keane Approves!

It was a thrill to discover that the PS22 Chorus is currently prominently featured on the the official Keane website! After somebody posted our cover of the amazing Keane song, "Everybody's Changing," the band apparently saw the video and gave hearty approval! Drummer Richard Hughes said,

"We think it's absolutely brilliant!"
You can see a screencap of the site below, with the complete quote from Richard, as well as some awesome comments from the Keane fans!

Thanks to the Keane community for their unanimously kind feedback! And of course, congratulations chorus!! You definitely continue to make your voices heard in a big way!!

Ending this post with a great live version of "Everybody's Changing" by the boys of Keane themselves!

Friday, January 23, 2009

PS22 Chorus Gets "The Call"

Well our friend Perez Hilton has done it again! He posted one of our new videos, "The Call" by Regina Spektor from the movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and within hours of posting has already gotten major attention on the internet! The kids outdid themselves, doing some three part harmonies, and Allie and Tirzah are magnificent as a duo! Perez had requested a song by Regina, and this was the obvious choice. Thanks to Perez for all his support! It makes us so proud to know that he deems us worthy viewing for his mass audience. Here are 2 songs from a rather prolific practice this afternoon!

The Call by Regina Spektor

Everybody's Changing by Keane

Perez was kind enough to send a message to the kids:

Such a lovely rendition!
Thanks so much.
I'm sure Regina will be thrilled too.

Congrats kids on adding to your list of major accomplishments in a year filled with them!! I know you believe me now when I tell you you're the best!! And of course, thanks to Miss Lisa for her beautiful filming!!

Below are some honors the video has received within hours of posting. Also proud to report that the video is the 7th most e-mailed video on Perez's blog!

Monday, January 19, 2009


Today saw the nation-wide televison debut of The PS22 Chorus on the new PBS series, Electric Company! Today the PBS network featured a 2 hour marathon of the new 2009 version of the classic 70's TV series, from 3:00-5:00 PM EST. And it was AWESOME!! The kids looked like pros, as you can see from the above video, and even got a credit at the end of the show, which you can see below! How cool is it seeing "PS22 Chorus" right up there with "Sean Kingston" and "Wyclef Jean"?!?

The kids appeared prominently in the first episode of the series in 2 short segments. The first was a carnival scene from the August shoot, and the second was the "Silent E" video segment that we filmed in June. Ultimately the PS22 Chorus of 2008 appeared in 3 out of the 4 episodes that aired during the marathon! There will be many more episodes featuring the kids, and we'll post them as they surface on the internet, as we did the above video. In the meantime you can visit the official PBS ELECTRIC COMPANY website to see the Silent E and the Sound Carnival "short u" segments. Once you're on the site, just click on "Videos", then "Clips", and finally use the up/down arrows to find the 2 videos that feature the PS22 Chorus kids. Below is a screen cap of the kids in action!

The new show has opened to extremely positive reviews! Robert Lloyd, reviewer for The Los Angeles Times said, "I was at first distressed to see Tom Lehrer's sweet ode to 'Silent E' ("A little glob becomes a globe instantly/If you just add silent e") rewritten into a kind of "Middle School Musical" production number, it won me over in the end." The PS22 Chorus never fails to win 'em over in the end!! But we're not middle school! ELEMENTARY! Just like the papers to never get it right! You can read the review from Newsweek below -- and notice another reference to the "Silent E" segment!!


No worries if you missed today's marathon -- the series officially kicks off this Friday on PBS at 4:30 PM (EST), its regularly scheduled airing time. The show will then repeat on Sundays at 11:30 AM. Below, enjoy more screencaps of today's Electric Company segments featuring the PS22 Chorus.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The PS22 Chorus Records Vocals for Columbia-signed Passion Pit's Full-length CD Debut!

Friday was a dream come true for the PS22 Chorus. To begin at the beginning, last week we received an e-mail from Chris Zane, who was producing a new CD from a New England-based band that's been getting a whole lot of buzz, Passion Pit. Passion Pit is the brain child of Michael Angelekos, the lead singer of the group and writer of some of the catchiest material you've yet to hear! His song, "Sleepyhead", was used in a PSP commercial and the group received a lot of recognition at the CMJ Awards, a ceremony which carries a lot of prestige in the music industry. This got them noticed by Rick Rubin, co-head of Columbia Records who is now in the process of getting ready to distribute the group's debut album. This leads us back to the e-mail from Chris.

Chris was contacting us to try to get the PS22 Chorus to appear on the album! It seems they were looking for a specific sound, and the PS22 Chorus fit the bill! So the kids were rushed into the studio the following week after Chris's initial e-mail, to sing background vocals on three tracks on the CD!

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Passion Pit drummer Nate Donmoyer and friend Paul. They took us into Gigantic Studios. The soundbooth was fantastic with all sorts of high-tech gadgetry beyond comprehension! The chorus didn't need any help from fancy equipment however! They were in top form singing their hearts out under the careful and pressure-free guidance of Michael, who knew exactly what he was looking for. The rapport between Michael and the kids was unmistakable, and the kids worked extra hard to deliver. And no doubt they did!

Michael even sat in as a guest soprano and sang with the group during the recording of a harmony that the kids were having a little bit of difficulty with at first. I know the kids felt very proud to be getting all this personal attention from the band's frontman. And you could tell Mike was loving every second of it as well!

Also in the studio were people from Fader Magazine, who there doing an exclusive feature covering the band's time in the studio. Chris timed the visit of the magazine so that they would come when the kids were recording their parts, so it's safe to assume we'll be seeing some footage of the kids on the Fader website, and possibly in hard copy form as well. After being seen in The NY Times, NY Daily News, and USA Today, it's thoroughly amazing for the kids to be getting exposure in a magazine that's relevant to the music industry.

For the last song, I took off the director's hat and offered it to Michael, and he was a natural with the kids. The kids felt completely comfortable following his lead. Michael infused his own vitality into the chorus and achieved remarkable results.

Some of the most memorable moments occurred while just hanging out during the downtime. Michael was on the floor sitting with the kids, talking to them, taking the time to try to reach out to each and everyone as much as possible. He even took the time to cheer Eric up when he was having a bit of a hard time, and managed to put a smile back on his face in no time at all. Elijah got to talk to Mike about his comics and his knowledge of classic horror films from the 30's. These were the moments that truly made the day special, the ones that showed there was a whole bunch of heart behind the amazing music of Passion Pit.

And speaking of the music, wait until you hear it! Passion Pit's hooks are wonderfully infectious while at the same time sounding completely original and fresh. It's rare to find music out there that's pushing boundaries, and Michael is definitely operating outside the perimeter of pop music. That's what makes the band's sound both memorable and compelling.

The perfect day was punctuated when I got home to a fantastic e-mail from Michael, that detailed the depth of inspiration he felt being around the PS22 Chorus children. It is truly one of the nicest messages the chorus has ever received. In his message, he says, "Your kids are so wonderful. They have such talent, they were so attentive and respectful." He goes on to say, "It's been a tiring, draining process these past few weeks, but today was reinvigorating. You really made this record THAT much more incredible."

In addition to his extremely kind e-mail, Michael posted his account of the day's festivities on his blog. It makes for a jaw-dropping read. Here it is below, in it's entirety as it should be seen:

"Then, there was this. The monster. The PS 22 chorus, consisting of 55 amazing, wonderful, talented, wide-eyed kids that love pop music, that love to sing, and have remarkably good ears. Their harmonies were spot-on after, let’s say, 2 or three tries. They were so quick, so professional, just unbelievable. Keep in mind that these are tired, over-heated, thirsty fifth graders, pumping out take after take after take for something they hadn’t even heard before. It took a monstrous amount of planning, but with the help of the Chris, the amazing and inspiring Greg B (who directs the chorus), a few very nice chaperones, and the help of the Gigantic Label and Tell All Your Friends PR firm, we got the whole floor handled — 15 devoured giant pizzas and all.

"To properly convey how moving this experience was for us is virtually impossible. I have been waiting to do this since I began this project. The character behind the Passion Pit voice modeled a euphoric, blissed-out children’s choir — that youth and energy. It was all there. We were so afraid that we were going to be unable to obtain a chorus, or that we were going to get a choir that was overly professional, that didn’t get pop, have any feel, that didn’t get the real sing-along feel that we were going for. Greg B’s energy was amazing, and he even let me direct the kids for one of the hooks in a song, and as I punched the air to signal the intensity of the parts, the kids began to follow me. Take after take, it got tighter and tighter. It felt so unbelievable to have the exact sound that I wanted coming through the headphones, directly connected with my movement and my idea for the songs development. It’s just always been a dream of mine, really.

"The kids sang on three songs, took breaks, hung out, we talked, I answered some questions, I asked some questions. I couldn’t believe how mature they were for their age, how well they were behaved (55 kids!!!), and how much they loved singing songs by Bjork, Keane, Coldplay, you name it. So. Cool.

"We were exhausted by the end of the day, and so was Greg, but these kids made the record what we had been dreaming it to be, as they are integral parts of three songs. At the end, the kids sang the Mary O’Hara sample in Sleepyhead as I belted out the first verse into the chorus. It was a really fun way to end our session together - it made me like the song a hell of a lot better, actually. Everyone clapped, smiled, shook hands, hugged, and we ended the session knowing that we not only got the best chorus we could possibly have asked for, but we made some new friends that will more than likely being showing up in the near future on a stage in NYC ;)

"But most importantly, with the school systems having virtually no music programs whatsoever, seeing a program like this exist at all made me feel like there was some hope. We need more Greg B’s in this world. Until this situation, it had not occurred to me how seriously bad the arts are suffering in public schools. This, of course, makes the PS 22 situation even more impressive."

All of our thanks go to Michael Angelekos, Chris Zane, and everyone associated with Passion Pit for giving the PS22 Chorus an experience they'll never forget! (And their director too!!) Thanks also go to Miss Lisa (as always!) for filming the event and taking some of the pics you see here. We also were lucky enough to have Mrs. Johnson along for the fun who also snapped most of the pictures day. Having the two of them and Miss Sassano along helped to make this day extra-special! Below are some more pictures of the chorus from inside the studio with Passion Pit.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hey you guuuuuuuuuuuuuuys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You may remember that we posted a little while back about the PS22 Chorus of 2008 participating in a video shoot for the new version of the classic PBS television show Electric Company. EXCITING NEWS!! The premiere of Electric Company will happen this coming Monday, January 19th, 2009, and our kids will be featured in the "Silent E" video segment! The show kicks off with a marathon of 4 episodes from the new series this coming Monday, January 19th, and then the series will begin it's regularly weekly run on Fridays, starting January 23rd. Congrats to the chorus on its first nation-wide television appearance.

If you're in the tri-state area, the show will be on channel 13, at 3:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time). Otherwise, check your local listings. And in case you haven't seen the behind-the-scenes footage of our 3 days of Electric Company shoots, you can see them below.

PS22 Chorus August 2008 Electric Company Shoot (Behind-The-Scenes)

PS22 Chorus June 2008 Electric Company shoot (Behind-The-Scenes)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Councilman James S. Oddo Is Proud!

Today the PS22 Chorus received an extremely kind handwritten letter from Minority Leader of The N.Y.C. Council, James S. Oddo, who was in attendance at the McMahon inauguration on December 21st! (If you haven't seen the two songs already posted from the event, click on the link.) It is wonderful to hear this kind of amazing feedback from such a distinguished representative! We too are proud, sir, that you took the time to send us your message. Many, many thanks from the PS22 Chorus!

I wasn't originally going to post the version of "Viva La Vida" (by Coldplay) from the swearing-in ceremony, which the councilman was referring to in his letter. Honestly, the sound system was not picking up the chorus well enough -- not to mention we've already posted about a zillion versions of the song already!! However, Mr. Oddo's letter has inspired me to reconsider. It actually was pretty funny when we got to the line, "Oh who would ever want to be king?" Why? Well let's just say it made the song strangely perfect for the occasion! And it certainly got a big chuckle at the inauguration!!

Enjoy the performance of "Viva La Vida" from the McMahon event below: