Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 6:51 am | Fair 53º


Victor Hurtado Coming Home to Sing

Before that tour of duty, the former Carpinteria resident is shepherding the Army's team on 'Clash of the Choirs.'

Victor Hurtado grew up in Compton and moved to the Santa Barbara area when he was 11.  He graduated from Carpinteria High, Class of ‘81.

Mo McFadden
Moving from Compton to Carp was like entering Oz,” laughed Hurtado. I was calling him to get the skinny on how he got involved with Clash of the Choirs. I caught him at a New York pizza parlor with the two soldiers you may have seen on the NBC-TV show this week.

No stranger to gospel, Victor sang with Bishop "Mama Pat" Pearl Patrick‘s choir a couple of years back (1992-97), which is when we first met.  Victor was a board member of the Inner Light Community Gospel Choir and was key to getting gospel great Steven Roberts to come here to lead the gospel workshop and performance during Black History Month.  Roberts is coming back this year and so is Hurtado, who will be a guest soloist for the Inner Light choir concert at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Put the date on your calendar now, because Victor has a voice you must hear!  Talk about heavenly choirs. LOL. Full disclosure: Yours truly does handle the Inner Light choir’s PR.

Currently, Victor is working on Clash of the Choirs as the Defense Department’s official representative for Military Talent & Production Development. He’s held the title of Army artistic director for five years and has worked for the service since 2001, when he took over the Army Entertainment Program first begun by Irving Berlin in the 1920s. Yep, that’s right, Irving Berlin, one of America’s most beloved composers.  Victor is only the fifth person to have held the position. How cool is that ?!?!?

A producer from American Idol with whom he had worked asked Victor to put together a choir from all the military branches — in a week. HA! After that pipe dream was shot down, he was recruited to organize the auditions for the military members in Oklahoma City.  Auditions were held in November and NBC gave him an entire day for service members to audition and got Clash of the Choirs’ full production team to participate.

“NBC went out of their way to accommodate the military,” Victor said.

Earlier this month, four soldiers were chosen and he flew to Washington, D.C., for the final auditions. Two men made it and you can’t miss them in their uniforms: Capt. Saul and Staff Sgt. Kramer are in the choir led by country singer Blake Shelton in Oklahoma City.

“Only two people out of the 100 voices that auditioned have a handler! Me!” He laughed out loud and added that he’s with the soldiers 24/7 and loves every minute.

The show debuted Monday and finishes up Thursday night. As of Tuesday night, Shelton’s choir was still a contender. A quarter of a million dollars will go to the winning choir’s preferred hometown charity; Shelton chose Project Rebuild in Oklahoma City.

On the first night, former Brig. Gen. Frank Taylor, General Electric’s chief security officer, came on stage to announce GE would be donating $250,000 to Disabled American Veterans.  The news got the crowd to leap to its feet for a standing ovation. Did you just get chills? I did as I wrote it — just as I did when I was watching the show. Wish more corporations could dig deep and give to the troops who have so valiantly served this country.  What a nice Christmas gift and affirmation of support. For those who don’t know, NBC is owned by GE — and they put their money where their mouth was. Bravo!

Some “mo” trivia: My dad served in the Army in Word War II, in the 78th Division, and as first lieutenant was responsible for entertainment. Ever wonder who the other McFadden was in my business title? It’s in honor of my dad and also for my son. A sage PR mentor I know and worked with in L.A. told me to “never open a PR business with just one name.” That, and my son’s suggestion to call it McFadden & McFadden, after I had suggested McFadden & Son ... wise beyond his 6 years he was when he came up with it. As soon as he said it, it all made sense. So thanks, Eli, and know that you are my most successful production.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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