Angel City Chorus catches national spotlight on reality TV contest

Julie Serber Courtesy photo

Julie Serber Courtesy photo

Julie Serber watched “American Idol” regularly when she was growing up. Serber, 34, is a singer and almost auditioned for the show once but decided the spotlight wasn’t for her. She’d rather be part of a group.

Now she’s in a group that’s got the national spotlight shining on it.

Serber, who was raised in Calabasas, is one of 160 singers in the Angel City Chorale, a Los Angeles choir that recently entered the quarterfinals on the show “America’s Got Talent.”

She joined the group because she loves singing, but she didn’t know her talent would land her on TV.

“We auditioned for the show and did not expect to go as far as we’ve gone. We’re about to enter the fourth round, which is pretty exciting,” Serber said. “It’s a really special experience because I think it gives America a really great exposure to choirs. Our message has been that music unites us, and we feel like that’s a message that people need to hear in this day and age. We’re Republicans, Democrats, gay, straight, and we all sing next to each other and get along. We’re just so pleased that this message is resonating with people.”

Serber has been singing since she was a child. She was in school choirs from the primary grades through college. During her years at Calabasas High School she was heavily involved in the choir and joined the vocal groups Vivace and Unstrumental. She said Joshua Barroll, a music director at the school, was a huge inspiration for her.

She said that like many members of Angel City Chorale she doesn’t have any professional aspirations. She’s not looking to lead a band or make a career of singing; she just loves to do it.

“Most of us are great singers but didn’t end up pursuing it as a career. We missed it and wanted it back in our lives. The community of the choir is particularly appealing, making friends that share the same interest and pursuing a common goal,” Serber said. “I think a lot of us like singing in a choir because we’re not necessarily solo performers. We like being in a group.”

After her longtime voice coach Janelle Kennedy died in 2010, Serber stopped singing for a while. She said she decided to start again after the death of her father in 2017 because he was one of her biggest supporters.

A friend who is a member of the Angel City Chorale convinced Serber to audition last spring. She became a member in time for the chorale’s spring season but fell ill, so her first time performing with the choir was on “America’s Got Talent.”

Being in the group is a time commitment but not a burdensome one, she said; competing on reality TV is a different story.

The group’s first two performances were prerecorded, but since then they’ve performed live, which means spending hours rehearsing and preparing for the broadcast. Serber, a real estate agent, said she’s fortunate that her schedule is flexible so she can accommodate the days spent performing for the cameras.

Being that she’s one in a group of 160, she isn’t recognized when she’s out in public, but she said the group has gotten wonderful feedback from fans.

“When we wear our Angel City Chorale shirts we do get stopped, which is quite amazing. We’ve gotten so much fan mail from people who feel like our music has improved their lives. People in the hospital have writa through social media. It’s really uplifting to hear that people are being touched by our music.”

As someone who grew up watching hopeful singers audition for “American Idol,” Serber said, being on stage and performing for celebrity judges is unreal.

“Seeing Simon Cowell in person, someone I watched (on TV) over the years, was just a moment moment of ‘wow,’” she said. “We performed at the Dolby Theatre recently for the live show. They did a prerecording of us standing on the steps of the theater singing ‘California Dreaming,’ and we had a crowd of people taking pictures of us. That was very surreal, and very cool.”