Singing songs of success

Burroughs High School choir teacher Brendan Jennings, left, leads his choir in a practice at the Burbank school on Thursday, May 9, 2013. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / May 9, 2013)

Look no further than John Burroughs High School to find the national grand champions of all high school choirs in the United States.

After months — and for some students, years — of work, two choir teams at John Burroughs High School secured the greatest prizes in the high school show choir world when they performed before 4,800 people and several judges at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago on April 27.

When the Powerhouse team of 52 students took the stage to tell a story about a chorus girl trying to make it big in 1930s Hollywood, they knew the competition was close.

And all eyes were on them.

"It was definitely one of the biggest audiences that we've ever preformed for live," said Brendan Jennings, the director of the Burroughs' choir teams.

After all 19 co-ed teams had given it their best, it came down to Powerhouse and a choir team from Los Alamitos High in Long Beach.

"It could have gone any way," said senior Laura Howard, who is president of the Powerhouse team.

In the end, Powerhouse secured one-and-a-half more points from the judges than Los Alamitos did to win the National Show Choir Cup.

Their championship trophy is their third, following their 2001 and 2008 wins.

One of 11 women's choir teams, Burroughs' choir of 49 singers — Sound Sensations — also landed on top, securing the competition's inaugural Women's Show Choir Cup.

For Jennings, both accomplishments were the result of hours of work, and came thanks to 20 additional students who provided instrumental music or backstage set-up.

Jennings also credits his students' recent shining history in leading to the championship. In 2010, his choir performed on the Oprah Winfrey Show after reportedly serving as the inspiration behind producer Ryan Murphy's hit show, "Glee," about a high school show choir.

"They deserved to come out on top and they did," Jennings said of the choirs. "The overall production and visuals were just the most grand or epic, and quite a task to take on the road."

Seventeen-year-old Nevada Brandt, who played the chorus girl in the Powerhouse performance, won a standing ovation during the middle of the show for her rendition of Celine Dion's song, "I Surrender."

"We knew we put on our best show," Brandt said. "After being in choir for four years, it was the cherry on top. We finally won the big thing."

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.