Indiana’s Straight No Chaser is an all-male a cappella ensemble known for their sophisticated vocal harmonies and popular holiday-themed albums. Taking an unconventional approach from their beginnings at Indiana University in 1996, the male a cappella ensemble Straight No Chaser worked up a repertoire that included not only traditional songs, but also modern pop tunes performed without the use of instruments. Various local performances, including a storied early-morning appearance at the university’s annual 36-hour dance marathon, caught the public’s attention and helped the ensemble gather a fan base on campus. The original lineup of the group released several albums, toured the Midwest, and even competed nationally at Carnegie Hall before the students graduated and went their separate ways.
In 2006, a reunion show was planned for the founding members of Straight No Chaser at Indiana University, and a DVD recording of a 1998 concert was released. Subsequently, video clips of the concert were posted on YouTube and started gathering hundreds of views. One such viewer was Atlantic Records chairman/CEO Craig Kallman, who flew the singers to New York and ultimately offered Straight No Chaser a recording contract. All but two of the original members signed up.
Straight No Chaser released their first album, a seasonal effort named Holiday Spirits, in 2008. They also toured heavily, and 2009 found them releasing another holiday album, Christmas Cheers, as well as the first volume in the Six Pack EP series, which featured their take on Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours,” and more.
For the group’s next record, Straight No Chaser tackled modern pop hits by bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, and Oasis. The resulting With a Twist appeared in 2010, marking the group’s first non-holiday album. 2011′s Six Pack, Vol. 2 found the group tackling hits by Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bell Biv Devoe, Weezer, and more. In 2013, Straight No Chaser delivered the album Under the Influence, which featured guest performances from such artists as Phil Collins, Dolly Parton, Jason Mraz, and others. The album was followed by the EP Under the Influence: Holiday Edition, which featured guest appearances from Colbie Caillat, Paul McCartney, and Cee Lo Green.
In 2015, Straight No Chaser released their fifth full-length album, The New Old Fashioned, which featured another mix of contemporary pop standards. The following year, they returned with I'll Have Another...Christmas Album. A third installment of the Six Pack series arrived in 2017, featuring Jon Bellion’s “All Time Low,” Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like,” and a Beyoncé medley. Released in 2018, the group’s seventh album, One Shot, contained the usual wide variety of material as well as a series of spoken interludes during which members candidly discuss aspects of their career together. ~ Matt Collar