Before "Glee," "The Sing-Off" and "Pitch Perfect" made a cappella singing cool, there was Straight No Chaser.
A video of the male a cappella ensemble at Indiana University singing their mashup of "The 12 Days of Christmas" with Toto's "Africa" went viral in 1998, ultimately making the nine collegians a household name and leading to a contract with Atlantic Records.
They've since sold more than 1.6 million albums in the U.S. alone, starred in their own PBS specials and toured globally. They recently announced the formation of their own label, SNC Records, in partnership with Warner Music Group. Their first release under that imprint is an EP, "Open Bar," due out Nov. 15.
Chattanoogans will be among the first to hear that new music when Straight No Chaser brings its Open Bar tour to the Tivoli Theatre on Sunday night.
"We named the tour Open Bar because we wanted the feeling of songs people sing along to in a bar or hear in a bar," says Trevor Trepp in a phone interview. Trepp is a tenor in the group.
If you go
› What: Straight No Chaser
› Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.
› When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27
› Admission: $39.50-$62.50
› For more information: 423-757-5580
Straight No Chaser has built a solid fan base in Chattanooga, filling the Tivoli at each of its two previous concerts. If you've never seen a SNC show, the guys are neither straight-faced or strait-laced. They sing and dance and put the high spirit into their performance that their name suggests.
"We talk to our audience between songs, but not every song. We make fun of ourselves. The show will be a bunch of new songs, some stuff the audience hasn't heard before. We always try to change production with choreography and make each tour different from the last," says Trepp.
The singer says six of the original nine founders of Straight No Chaser still tour with the group. All nine singers are Indiana University alumni. He joined in 2009, after having sung with the collegiate Straight No Chaser ensemble.
While their shows are fun, lighthearted evenings of music, make no mistake, these are serious musicians. Trepp says they write all their own arrangements and collaborate on mashups.
"We have three or four core arrangers, myself included, who do a majority of the arrangements, and the others help out with ideas or have done some of their own. We've had only a handful of outside arrangers (Mark Kibble from Take 6, among them), but most of the arranging comes from us," says Trepp.
Trepp says Sunday's show will include music from the new EP, "and we'll probably do a few holiday tunes.
"It's a good bet that '12 Days' will be one of them," he teases.
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.