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Rockapella

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Biography

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 streetcorner 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 To NY in 1992. Two more albums, From NY and Bash!, appeared that 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 Rockapella issued 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. The seasonal effort Christmas Album was issued in fall 2000, and the concert release Live was issued in early 2001. For their fifth album, 2002's Smilin', Rockapella welcomed guest vocals from singer George Baldi. That same year, the vocal group released the holiday effort Comfort and Joy.

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