A Cappella and YouTube Sensation Straight No Chaser to Perform Nov. 15

By David Wedekindt

Release Date: October 22, 2009 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Center for the Arts at the University at Buffalo will present Straight No Chaser on Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus. The Buffalo Chips, the UB's male a cappella group will open the concert.

If the phrase "male a cappella group" conjures up an image of students in blue blazers, ties and khakis singing traditional college songs on ivied campuses, think again. If, on the other hand, it conjures up campy college ensembles singing joke versions of "Like A Virgin" in boxer shorts, think again.

The members of Straight No Chaser are neither strait-laced nor straight-faced, but neither are they vaudeville-style kitsch. As original member Randy Stine comments, "We take the music very seriously; we just don't take ourselves too seriously." In the process, they are reinventing the idea of a cappella on the modern pop landscape. Originally formed a dozen years ago as students at Indiana University, the group has reassembled and reemerged as a phenomenon -- with a huge fanbase, millions of viewers on YouTube and a contract with Atlantic Records.

In 1999, with college graduation looming, the members of Straight No Chaser chose their replacements -- putting a plan in place to ensure that the new tradition they had created would continue on with successive generations of IU undergrads. Then, in April 2006, the unexpected happened – Indiana University decided to host a reunion concert for the original members. In honor of the event, Randy produced a DVD of one of their 1998 concerts, and he posted clips from it on YouTube to share with the other founding members. Suddenly, concert footage that was nearly a decade old was available to be seen by millions of people worldwide, and see it they did, in mind-blowing numbers. With no promotion, Straight No Chaser's version of "The 12 Days Of Christmas" (interpolating Toto's "Africa") received more than 7 million views in December of 2007 alone, becoming the hottest viral video of the season.

Atlantic Records Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman happened to be among those millions of viewers. "It was completely random and totally unexpected," says 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. So I emailed Randy right away." Within a few days, the entire group flew to Atlantic's offices in New York, and a deal was in the works.

The group claimed the top spot last December on iTunes and Amazon.com with their debut album, Holiday Spirits. They will release Christmas Cheers, a new full-length holiday album this fall. The release will feature a new batch of holiday classics reworked in Straight No Chaser's inventive and original style. Straight No Chaser recently released Six Pack, an EP of six non-holiday cover songs ranging from "Rehab" to a medley of "I'm Yours" and "Over The Rainbow."

The birth of Straight No Chaser's second life is a story of talent, drive and some very good luck indeed. But their goal remains the same as it was back in their college days. As Randy says, "We want the audience to not miss the instruments, be surprised by what we're doing and, in the end, appreciate the songs in a whole new way."

Tickets for Straight No Chaser are $26.50 general admission and $16.50 for students (any school). Tickets are available at the Center for the Arts Box Office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and at all Ticketmaster locations, including ticketmaster.com. To charge tickets, call 1-800-745-3000; in Canada, call 416-870-8000. For group sales, call 716-645-6771.For more information call 716-645-2787.