Original members of Straight No Chaser to perform at IU Homecoming before Atlantic Records debut
The 10 original members of Indiana University's homegrown a cappella group, Straight No Chaser, will perform a reunion show Saturday, Oct. 25, (7:30 p.m. at IU Auditorium) just three days before the group's Atlantic Records CD debut.
Straight No Chaser first formed 12 years ago when its members were IU students. After taking part in a 2006 reunion show and posting footage from a 1998 concert on YouTube, the group experienced a resurgence in popularity and became a YouTube fan favorite.
Back in 1999, with college graduation looming, the original members of Straight No Chaser chose their replacements and put a plan in place to ensure that the new tradition they had created would continue with successive generations of IU undergrads. In April 2006, the current members of Straight No Chaser hosted a reunion concert for the original members; original group member Randy Stine produced a DVD of one of their 1998 concerts and posted clips from it on YouTube.
Suddenly, with no promotion, Straight No Chaser's nearly 10-year-old version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" (interpolating Toto's "Africa") received more than seven million views in December 2007 alone, becoming the hottest viral video of the season. Stine sold out every copy of the DVD he had put together; his supplier couldn't even produce new copies fast enough to keep up with rising demand.
Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman was among those millions of YouTube viewers.
"It was completely random and totally unexpected," said Kallman. "I was surfing YouTube to check out what was new when I saw this brilliant, fresh and totally compelling performance. And then I saw how many hits they were getting, and I had something of an epiphany. I e-mailed Randy right away."
Stine was sure the e-mail was some kind of prank. "The head of Atlantic Records e-mailing me at 8 a.m. New Year's Day and saying he was interested in our group? I thought, 'yeah, right.'" Stine decided to check it out anyway, and within days, the entire group flew to Atlantic's offices in New York to talk about a record deal. Kallman offered the group a five-album deal in 2008. They make their debut Oct. 28 with the Christmas album Holiday Spirits.
"From the day Dan Ponce (the group's original leader) and I discussed his forming a male singing group in my office to their first appearance as a group with the Singing Hoosiers to all that has happened since, I knew that something special would happen," said Michael Schwartzkopf, a Jacobs School of Music professor who is chair of IU's Singing Hoosiers and interim chair of the Department of Choral Conducting. "They are a classy group of very talented men who are having a great time doing what they love. Watching them work painstakingly on the recording this summer was incredible. They make all who know them very proud."
"We are very pleased to be able to present the original members of Straight No Chaser in what is a great homecoming story," said Doug Booher, director of the IU Auditorium. "This talented, energetic group of guys began their careers together here at IU, performing for huge crowds of appreciative students, alumni and community members. We expect this to be the best Straight No Chaser show yet, with new songs from the Holiday Spirits album, and the songs that the crowds know as longtime favorites."
The group were even the subject of an Oct. 3 New York Times article (view the article at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/arts/music/05rapk.html?_r=2&ei=5070&emc=eta1&oref=slogin&oref=slogin).
Tickets are available at the IU Auditorium Box Office, by calling 812-855-1103 and online at IUauditorium.com. Tickets are $22.50 for the show and an exclusive advanced copy of Holiday Spirits, or $16.50 for the show only. The show is presented by IU Auditorium and is sponsored by the Indiana University Alumni Association and IU Foundation.
To see the history of how YouTube led Straight No Chaser to a record deal and new album, see "SNCmusic" and subscribe to receive updates: http://www.youtube.com/user/sncmusic.