by Kim Jones
Born in Detroit, LaShell Griffin, winner of The Oprah Winfrey Pop Star Challenge, knew from an early age that music would be her mission. By the age of thirteen, when she was old enough to join the church choir, she was given solos regularly.
Although music would eventually take a back seat to family responsibilities, it was never far from her mind. By her early 30s, LaShell was a mother of five. Her husband encouraged her to continue singing in the choir. Eventually, her wrenching solos brought requests to perform at weddings. Soon LaShell was juggling two or three weddings per weekend.
Her schedule slowed down in 2003, when LaShell broke her foot. "I couldn't do anything," remembers LaShell. "I was watching The Oprah Winfrey Show and I heard them talking about sending in tapes for a contest. I told my husband and he said to me, "This is it." We recorded a tape of me singing "Amazing Grace" at church and waited.
A few weeks after they sent in the tape, the call came. "I just assumed it was another bill collector," says LaShell. "It was a producer from Oprah's show. I could hardly breathe."
Talking to LaShell about the experience is a lesson in humility. Her voice remains even, even when talking about one of the most amazing events in her life. "It feels so natural for me, all of this," says LaShell, "because I believe in keeping it real and being myself so there is no façade."
Learn more about LaShell Griffin by visiting her web site.
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