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LaShell Griffin

The Pop Star Challenge

With her husband's help, Griffin made a recording of a heart-felt rendition of "Amazing Grace" at their church and sent the tape to The Oprah Winfrey Show. Eight days later, as Griffin was pulling into the driveway after picking her husband up from work, the telephone was ringing. Much to Griffin's surprise and excitement, it was a producer for The Oprah Winfrey Show calling to tell her that she had been selected from over 15,000 entries as one of eight semifinalists. Later she found out that she was not in the original finalist list but producers went back, reviewed the tapes once more, and ended up selecting hers.

In a whirlwind of activity, producers came to Griffin's house, interviewed her and her family, went to church with them, and eventually invited Griffin to perform on the show. On February 9, 2004, after several days of rehearsals, makeovers, and voice coaching, Griffin made her first appearance on the show, singing "Where Do Broken Hearts Go." According to the rules of the contest, celebrity judges comment on the performances but voting is done by the viewing audience via the internete and telephone. Following her opening performance, celebrity judge Brian McKnight told Griffin, "That was one of the sweetest voices I've ever heard," as quoted on the Oprah Web site.

Surviving the cut to the three finalists, Griffin performed again on the show on February 16, this time singing "The Greatest Love of All." Her performance was met with unanimous praise by the panel of expert judges. Simon Cowell of FOX's American Idol fame said, "I thought you were absolutely fantastic. What you have, you feel it all around you, the public already has bought into you. And you are the argument why older singers deserve a chance in a competition like this," according to the Oprah Web site. The audience agreed, and when the votes were tallied, Griffin was announced as the first Pop Star Challenge winner and was awarded a recording contract with Epic Records.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Bob Graham (1942-) Biography - Awards to Francis Hendy Biography - Born to SewLaShell Griffin Biography - From Housewife To Celebrity, The Pop Star Challenge, Recorded Her First Album - Selected discography