The monumental success of Straight No Chaser over the last six years, one might say, was the happiest of accidents.
Thanks to the Internet and YouTube, the male a cappella group jumped into the musical spotlight in 2006 and has remained a large draw on stages worldwide and with television audiences.
Original member Randy Stine, of Chicago, says the group was initially established in 1996 at Bloomington's Indiana University. "We just thought we'd get out and sing for whoever was interested," Stine says. "We sang at school for fun."
The original ten members performed concerts at the college and around the Bloomington area while they remained students. (Today, an undergrad group also known as Straight No Chaser still exists at IU.)
However, it wasn't until 2006, when the original members, who had already graduated, got together for a reunion concert, that everything changed. Along with that concert, they decided to post a video of their "The 12 Days of Christmas" performance on YouTube and the video went viral. They got the attention of not only the public, but the head of Atlantic Records—and the rest is history.
Fans of Straight No Chaser will have the opportunity to hear what the excitement is about when the group performs December 9 at the Chicago Theatre. "We like to keep our audiences surprised," says Stine about their shows. They always mix up the set lists with a blend of "older to contemporary" music and some humor thrown in.
Concertgoers will always hear everything from new twists on the Great American Songbook to pop tunes from decades ago as well as some of today's biggest hits in a Straight No Chaser show.
Stine says vocal music and a cappella sounds are hip today with all ages. "With the popularity of television shows like American Idol, The Voice and The Sing-Off, more people are attracted to it," Stine says. "[A cappella] is a sound that draws people in. There's an unusual quality about it."
The group's latest tour, titled the #SNCLive Fall 2012 Tour, is a nod to its Internet success and presence. The tour continues through December 23 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Stine says the Chicago Theatre show will largely be a Christmas-themed concert featuring songs from their hit holiday CDs Christmas Cheers and Holiday Spirits. "Christmas music has a special place in our shows. People look forward to it every year," he says.
Fans can expect something new across the airwaves from Straight No Chaser soon. "We have a new album coming out in February," Stine says, adding it will feature special guests who haven't yet been announced to the general public.
Stine looks forward to bringing SNC's show to the Chicago Theatre. "We've done five sold-out shows at the Chicago Theatre and I'm crossing my fingers that we'll sell out again," he says. A native of Naperville, Ill., who still calls Chicago home, Stine says the iconic theater is a special place.
"I'm excited to come back. And we have a signing line after every show where people can come to say hello to us."