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Straight No Chaser a cappella pioneers

Straight No Chaser headlines Genesee Theatre Nov. 2 RialSquare Theatre Nov. 3. | PHOTO © Andrew Zaeh ~ ZAEH LLC

Straight No Chaser headlines the Genesee Theatre on Nov. 2 and the Rialto Square Theatre on Nov. 3. | PHOTO © Andrew Zaeh ~ ZAEH, LLC

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STRAIGHT NO CHASER

♦ 8 p.m. Nov. 2

♦ Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan

♦ Tickets, $29.50-$49.50

♦ (800) 745-3000; ticketmaster.com

♦ 8 p.m. Nov. 3

♦ Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet

♦ Tickets, $29.50-$49.50

♦ (815) 726-6600; rialtosquare.com

The a cappella group Straight No Chaser may be one of the only artistic ensembles that can be truly labeled an “overnight success.” The singing troupe of 10 males became a sensation when, in 2007, an ensemble member posted a video on YouTube.

“It went viral,” said Randy Stine, an original member of Straight No Chaser and the person who posted the video. “It had 7 million hits in three weeks. Then Atlantic Records called and wanted to do a tour or an album or both.”

Straight No Chaser will perform on Nov. 2 at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan and Nov. 3 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.

The group originally came together in the fall of 1996 at Indiana University where 10 guys who happened to be friends also liked to sing. When the original members began graduating in 1999 and went on to jobs mostly outside of music, they chose replacements and established Straight No Chaser as an ongoing group on campus. More than 50 members have passed through the group’s ranks so far.

When Stine, who grew up in Naperville and attended Naperville North High School, posted clips from a 1998 concert on YouTube, the ensemble’s fan base grew exponentially. In 2007 alone, the group’s version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” was viewed more than 7 million times. Today the group’s cumulative YouTube views clock in at more than 25 million.

In addition to Stine, four original members are still with the group with five new members who performed with the group at different times at Indiana University.

“The other five guys went to IU and all were in Straight No Chaser at one point,” Stine said, “so we pulled from that talent pool.”

Straight No Chaser features 10 voices coming together to make music and reinventing the idea of a cappella on the modern pop landscape.

“Mainly, it’s different,” said Stine of the group’s appeal. “It is not your typical a cappella. When people think of a cappella they think of a choir, or the TV show ‘Glee’ or a barbershop quartet. We try to do styles that people are not expecting. A few years ago we started doing a medley of Lady Gaga’s songs. That surprised a lot of people.”

Picking which songs to perform is a collaborative effort.

“We bring different experiences all across the board,” said Stine of his fellow singers. “But in the end, it all comes down to what the audience will like best.”

Randall G. Mielke is a local free-lance writer.



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