OFFSTAGE: More About Carrie Underwood’s PS22 Visit

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Thank you, David Cook. Thank you for telling fellow American Idol alum Carrie Underwood how amazing the PS22 Chorus was and encouraging her to make her own visit to the elementary school in Staten Island, N.Y. Gregg Breinberg, the chorus director of PS22, told me Cook was the one who inspired Underwood to visit their school and choir of fifth graders last week.

And Breinberg’s first task for the big performance? Choosing which Underwood songs to sing.

“I chose ‘So Small’ because, lyrically, it’s just so perfect for the kids. And it really spoke to us,” he told me. “And ‘Good Girl’ is just such a fun, upbeat song.” On “So Small,” Breinberg said he used the whole group, plus two amazing soloists on the verses. Underwood does the chorus. “But when they finished their second verse, she is so mesmerized that she almost forgets to come in,” he said. And on “Good Girl,” he chose a boy named Kevin to sing with her. “Kevin was just made for that song,” he said. “I know my kids. I know their individual talents. And I knew he’d be perfect. You can see his presence in the video. I mean, he’s such a natural performer. And he holds his own with Carrie,” he said. He also told me Underwood was so gracious and spent time taking pictures and hugging all the children. “She was a sweet as could be.”

And while Breinberg said the chorus doesn’t delve into country music very often, he loves the outcome of this visit. “Being a city boy — I’m a native Staten Islander — I’m not exposed to the county scene so much, but I’m really loving the way country is meshing with the sound of the kids.” he said. “And even though ‘Good Girl’ is country, it has bluesy feel to it, so I knew the kids would create a great sound.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.