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Rockapella successfully modernized the art of a cappella performing, texturing their rich, five-part vocals with elements of rock, jazz, R&B, and doo wop. The group was formed during the mid-'80s by Brown University students Sean Altman (tenor) and Elliott Kerman (baritone), who met while members of the school's male a cappella ensemble the High Jinks. They soon formed a spin-off street corner group dubbed the Lunchtime Specials, gradually evolving into Rockapella -- although other members came and went, both Altman and Kerman stayed on throughout the lean years, eventually joined by tenor Scott Leonard and bass Barry Carl. In 1990. the group appeared on the PBS special Spike Lee and Company: Do It A Cappella, leading to an invitation to become the house band on the network's educational series Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, where they remained for five seasons. Although no American record deal was immediately forthcoming, Rockapella soon signed to the Japanese label For Life, issuing their debut LP, Rockapella, Vol. 1: To N.Y., in 1992. Two more albums appeared the same year, and in 1993, vocal percussionist Jeff Thacher joined the lineup in time to record 1994's Vocobeat. The Christmas release Out Cold was issued just months later, and in 1995 they released their first American collection, Primer. In the wake of 1996's Lucky Seven, Altman left the lineup and was replaced by Kevin Wright; the retooled roster issued Don't Tell Me You Do in early 1999. Rockapella 2 and the seasonal effort Christmas Album arrived in fall 2000, and the concert release Live came in early 2001. For 2002's Smilin', Rockapella welcomed guest vocals from singer George Baldi, who would appear on several future albums. That same year, the vocal group released the holiday effort Comfort and Joy. Live in Japan appeared in 2004 and marked the final record for co-founder Elliott Kerman, and the group's last release for six years. Wright left the group during the recording break and was replaced by tenor Steven Dorian. Rockapella re-emerged with Bang in 2010. It was followed by A Rockapella Holiday in 2011 and, with tenor Calvin Jones on board, Motown & More in 2013. With the lineup of Scott Leonard, Thacher, Steven Dorian, Calvin Jones, and new member Ryan Chappelle singing bass, the quintet released a single, "Rock Around the Clock/Tell Me Something Good" on Shakariki Records in 2015. ~ Jason Ankeny

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1986 in New York, New York

Years Active:

'90s, '00s, '10s