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12/29/2013 6:00:00 AM
Kingman singers get a taste of the big time
Commisso, McClelland plan to learn from their show business experiences
Chris Commisso interacts with a puppet over the Christmas holidays.
Chris Commisso interacts with a puppet over the Christmas holidays.
J.T. McClelland uses local mountains as a backdrop for one of his videos.
J.T. McClelland uses local mountains as a backdrop for one of his videos.

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn't.

Just ask Chris Commisso and J.T. McClelland, two Kingman residents who recently put their voices up against other contestants in two international venues. Both men have been singing locally for years in churches and bars and are eagerly waiting for their chance to grab the elusive brass ring of success.

McClelland got a chance this month to audition for "The Voice," a vocal competition show now in its fifth season on NBC, at tryouts in Los Angeles. And while he didn't make the cut that would enable him to sing in front of the show's judges, he learned a lot during his first audition for a popular television show that he believes will help him in the future.

"I wasn't disappointed at all," said McClelland. "It is what it is. For me, this was a life experience and any time you can learn something, that's a good thing. There were singers there who were better than me and they didn't get chosen, either. It's not so much about your singing ability as your marketability and whether you will boost the show's ratings. This won't stop me at all. I've entered lots of contests and didn't win them, and I still keep trying."

"The Voice" features five celebrity coaches - Cee Lo Green, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine - who put the contestants through four stages of competition. The first is the blind audition, where the coaches hear the singers but can't see them until they decide to represent them and push a button that swivels their chair around. If no one pushes their button, the contestant is eliminated.

The other competition stages are the battles and knockouts, where team members compete against each other to be chosen by their coaches. The final competition is the live performance, where the television audience votes to save their favorite artists as two are sent home each week. The final contestant wins the grand prize of a recording contract.

McClelland, who writes his own country-style lyrics and music and has been performing since he was 12, said he didn't know what to expect during the audition. McClelland said he and other contestants were herded into a big holding area, then were taken to rooms where they were divided into groups of 10 contestants. Each person sang a verse and chorus of a song, without accompaniment, and the whole process for each group took about 15 minutes. In his group's case, said McClelland, no one made it.

Future audition attempts for McClelland include "The Singing Bee," a Nashville-based karaoke game show seen on CMT, and "The Winner Is," a vocal game show on NBC where contestants progressively battle for a $1 million prize. McClelland also has sent in an application to audition for "The X Factor," a music competition featuring Simon Cowell.

Commisso, on the other hand, competed recently on American Idol emcee Ryan Seacrest's website with his rendition of singer Katy Perry's song entitled "Roar." Based on the number of fan votes, he came in third against contestants from "The Voice" and "American Idol." The honor entitles him to use the performance and ranking as a marketing tool while he attempts to propel himself into the spotlight.

"Ryan Seacrest results are in!" he wrote on his Facebook page, "We took third place, my friends, but before you get too disappointed, please understand this was a contest based on fan votes. The band that took first place has over 125,000 viewers on their video. I have just under 20,000. So that fact that we even came close to competing with this is truly astounding! Not to mention what may yet come of this as a result of all the amazing exposure I received."

Commisso said third place for him was a huge accomplishment, considering he is an unknown who was hoping to place in the top 15 of the 30 singers and bands competing for the spot. The international exposure from the contest has dramatically increased traffic to his YouTube channel, which is called ThePianoShack and is located online at, as well as increased his other social media subscribers. Commisso thanked everyone local who voted for him, noting he is encouraged by the support.

Good things are happening because of his win, and he is working with Seacrest's employees on a project that will promote Commisso and his music on Seacrest's website. Although Commisso has been cautioned to keep the details secret right now, he said the project looks very promising and meetings have been scheduled to get the ball rolling. In the meantime, Commisso is working hard to add new music videos to his YouTube channel.

He's also been busy with other projects. Recently, Commisso sent in a video submission for "The Voice," although he has not heard back about it yet. And he has branched out into music production, and taken on a singing group from North Dakota called "Tigirlily," producing their Christmas song, "Holiday Honey," for Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment. Commisso writes his own lyrics and music, and plays numerous musical instruments, including keyboard, piano and drums.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2013
Article comment by: GOOD LUCK, CHRIS

Best of luck, Chris...Kingman is very proud of you and happy for your venture into the music industry.

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