As seen on TV

‘Sing off’ host Nick Lachey in perfect harmony

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12:  Nick Lachey visits Toys"R"Us Times Square on June 12, 2013 in New York, United States.  (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Nick Lachey visits Toys"R"Us Times Square on June 12, 2013 in New York, United States. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
Rob Kim / Getty Images

Nick Lachey didn’t have enough on his new plate, being a new dad (son Camden was born in September of last year). The former 98 Degrees singer follows his passion — music — and returns to host another edition of NBC’s The Sing-Off 9 p.m. Monday. The spirited smackdown involving a cappella (aka: no music) groups from across the nation features judges Jewel, Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men) .

The winner’s not so shabby take-home: a recording contract plus $100,000.

We chatted with Lachey on a recent conference call:

You started off doing a capella. How hard is it?

A cappella singing has meant a great deal to me throughout my life and career. I first started singing a cappella in high school. I went to a performing arts school and spent my summers working at an amusement part in Cincinnati called King’s Island. I was in a barbershop quartet, walking around the park and singing to guests and what-not. I think it takes incredible talent to pull off. Oftentimes people take it for granted and don’t realize how hard it is. There are so many people out there that are responding to it. A cappella is kind of going through a resurgence; a renaissance if you will, with movies like Perfect Pitch.

You went back on the road with 98 Degrees this year. Was that fun and is it interesting to balance your musical and TV careers now?

It was a lot of fun. First of all, you know, to get back together with those guys after more than a decade, and be able to go on the road with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men and be a part of a sold-out arena tour was very, very special and a great experience. To balance the two, when you’re doing stuff that you’re passionate about and it’s exciting to you, then it’s easy to rally and kind of summon the energy to move from one to the other.

Baby Camden must hear a lot of singing around the house.

Well, music in general is big in our home. You know obviously I’m a musician and my wife [ Vanessa Minnillo] is a passionate lover of music, working in TV for so many years. And so there’s constantly music on in our house and yes, we sing to Camden every time we put him down for a nap or put him down for the night. Technically there is a little a cappella happening in our house. It’s usually in the lullaby form, but it is happening every day.

Does he have a favorite lullaby?

I’d like to think it’s one of the ones I wrote for him. I did a record for him that came out this year called Father’s Lullaby and there’s a song on there called Sleepy Eyes. That one that I kind of wrote while he was still in the womb. So that’s the one I sing to him every day before he goes down. Whether he likes it or not, that’s really the only one he gets served up.

Can you talk a little bit about the addition of Jewel this year?

Jewel is fantastic. I thought she was a perfect fit. She’s incredibly talented first of all. We all know that. But she’s so well spoken and so relatable. What really struck me is how passionate and how caring she was about each and every group and each and every performer in the group. And she really gave her all in trying to nurture and walk them through this process. Certainly not at all hard to look at from my vantage point on stage. She made my night better just sitting out there.

Are you and Vanessa thinking to expand your family? Would you want a girl this time?

I have no expectations for Baby No. 2 nor do I have any real hope or dreams either way. I think as a father it’s cool to have a son. We already have obviously taken care of that part so whatever comes is a welcome addition to the family. And although I said it’s not going to happen any day imminently, we definitely do want more kids.

You just recently turned 40. How’s that going for you?

It hasn’t changed at all. It’s just a number as they say. Everything feels the same, so no groundbreaking moment happened.

Madeleine Marr

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