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Selected Of God Choir From Chrysler Super Bowl Ad Still Basking In Success

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SELECTED OF GOD CHOIR
Larry Callahan and the Selected of God choir have seen their dreams come true after starring in the Chysler Super Bowl commercial featuring Eminem (Chrysler). | Chrysler
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DETROIT -- When Larry Callahan answered a call to audition for a commercial in late 2010, he had no idea it would change his life and the members of his gospel choir, Selected of God.

Wieden + Kennedy, one of Chrysler Group LLC's advertising agencies, specified it was looking for genuine Detroiters rather than actors.

"They were looking for bellmen, waitresses and, of course, this is the gospel music capital, so I thought why not use a gospel choir?" Callahan said.

To say Selected of God nailed the audition would be an understatement.

But it wasn't until days before Chrysler's groundbreaking two-minute 2010 Super Bowl commercial that Callahan or anybody in the choir knew they would be in Chrysler's video homage to Detroit.

That one ad propelled the choir's 36 members to celebrity.

"This has catapulted us into our dreams," Callahan, the choir's director, said. "I never knew it would happen this way, but it has sent us literally around the world over these past two years. We are still trying to wrap our head around what actually happened to us."

Callahan, 36, said the choir has gone from a half-dozen performances per year to nearly 60 and continues to enjoy extensive support from Chrysler.

The choir launches its third album, "The Evolution II," on Tuesday with links on the websites of Chrysler and Walmart.

Chrysler in conjunction with 8 Mile Style -- the music publishing company of Eminem co-writers Mark and Jeff Bass -- also are announcing a $150,000 donation Tuesday to four Detroit area charities.

"The agency, not me, found this choir while conducting their casting for the commercial," said Olivier Francois, Chrysler's chief marketing officer. "I fell in love with" them.

"I was really moved by what they do, their personal story, their humility. They are the most true thing I ever met in Detroit. They ... embody all of Detroit's spirit," Francois said.

Joel Martin, the executive producer of Selected of God's new album, credits Francois for supporting the choir beyond its one moment in the spotlight.

"The fact that on a corporate level they want to support something like a gospel choir? I have never seen it. I have never seen it with a car company," Martin said.

After the Super Bowl commercial made its splash, Martin said Francois wanted to do more to thank the choir for its involvement. So he suggested that the choir sing a version of Eminem's "Lose Yourself," and film a video.

"We said we like that idea, but we don't want this to be used in an advertisement as it relates to the choir," Martin said. "If you want to do a video, let it go viral."

Chrysler agreed -- to Martin's amazement -- to pay for the cost of the video production and agreed that it would not use the video in a television commercial, but Chrysler still benefits when it is replayed on YouTube.

The video, available on YouTube, shows Selected of God choir performing "Lose Yourself" in Detroit, edited with quick shots of Chrysler vehicles, a boxer, a ballet dancer and other Detroit backdrops. The video has been viewed more than 525,000 times.

"They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars -- Chrysler did -- to be able to use a production company that was capable of doing this video with the choir and do it well," Martin said.

Selected of God's new 10 song album includes guest appearances by several gospel music luminaries such as the Clark Sisters, "Twinkie" Clark-Terrell and Chrystal Rucker. The album closes with a remake of "Lose Yourself."

"So their success is our success and vice versa," Francois said.

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