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Straight No Chaser

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.

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 while students together 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 an era when so much pop music is the product of digital processing and vocal pro-tooling, Straight No Chaser is the real deal--the captivating sound of ten unadulterated human voices coming together to make extraordinary music that is moving people in a fundamental sense… and with a sense of humor.

In the fall of 1996, Indiana University was a rarity among colleges--a campus without a single a cappella group, where other schools often had multiple ensembles (Yale boasted 15!). So ten students came together to remedy the situation--hand-picked by group founder Dan Ponce not only for their outstanding voices, but for their personalities. Standing alone, they knew they had to stand out to succeed. Purposefully avoiding the stereotype of the traditional college a cappella group, they treated themselves more like a local band that just happened to use their voices as their instruments. As Dan recalls, “We needed to be a group that would blend in terms of both sound and character.”

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