Voices carry: Straight No Chaser to sing at Stranahan TheaterWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Straight No Chaser’s recording resumé rocks. The group’s 2013 disc, “Under the Influence,” is loaded with star power: Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Elton John, Phil Collins, Seal.
And the “Under the Influence: Holiday Edition” EP features a Beatle.
Talk about dreaming ginormous.
“We thought: Let’s just put a bunch of names down and see if 30 of them come back to us. And one by one, people kept saying yes,” Steve Morgan said. “They’re all people we’ve emulated at some point in our lives, so it’s just a thrill to have them on our album.”
Morgan and his nine singing buddies shared studio time with Parton to record “Jolene,” and Sara Bareilles dropped by to cover The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”
“Sara Bareilles performed in an a cappella group during her college days, actually a group we sang with in college way back when. That was one of the songs that she covered with them … I think it was a turn-back-the-clock moment for her as well,” Morgan said during a call from a tour stop in New Orleans.
Technology brought together voices for Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” Collins’ “Against All Odds,” Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” and John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”
With a little luck, the group received a fab message about “Under the Influence: Holiday Edition.”
“We were all set to have the [EP] mastered and send it off, and we got word that Paul McCartney was interested in being on the record with ‘Wonderful Christmastime.’ Of course, when that happens, you say, ‘OK, we’ll do whatever we need to make that happen,’ ” Morgan said. “We put down the track in between shows, any spare time we had … to get that on there as a last-second addition. It’s one of the great thrills of our lives to say we have Paul McCartney on our record.”
The a cappella group known for its harmonies and holiday humor also piqued interest from another legend: Steven Spielberg.
“Dreamworks picked up an option to make the movie [about Straight No Chaser]. I know that they have some writers working on the project right now. It’s still in the development stage. We’re as interested as anyone else to see what comes of all that. But the sheer fact that Steven Spielberg knows who we are and likes our story — I mean, it’s one of those things where you kind of pinch yourself and go, ‘Wait, who are we?’ ” Morgan said and laughed.
He recalled how it began at Indiana University: “We’re a bunch of guys who got together at IU back in ’96, basically to sing for girls, to be able to get into sororities to sing to the ladies. So that we get to do this in any capacity is amazing and to see the sold-out houses that we get to perform for, I think we’re all blown away,” Morgan said.
Straight No Chaser — Morgan, Walter Chase, Jerome Collins, Seggie Isho, Michael Luginbill, Charlie Mechling, Don Nottingham, David Roberts, Randy Stine and Tyler Trepp — will bring The Happy Hour Tour to Stranahan Theater at 8 p.m. Nov. 8. Tickets range from $36.50 to $56.50.
“There’s a purity to a cappella that people can relate to. Whatever song you’re doing, there’s somewhat of an innocence because you know that everything that’s up there is genuine; it’s just coming from our mouths or our bodies,” Morgan said. “There’s something of the good old days in that sound.”