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January 6, 2006

Chapter 6 becoming national sensation

Crawfordsville Journal Review (IN)

From its humble beginnings as an a cappella group at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., to this week’s performances with the National Symphony at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, Chapter 6’s ascent has been steady and blessed. Luke Menard, a Crawfordsville native and 1/6 of the singing group, is enjoying the ride.

Chapter 6 started as a college course at Millikin before its members decided to take it professional in 2001 after the school dropped them from the curriculum. Since then the singing group has released four albums, toured the country over many times and won numerous awards for its performances. Chapter 6’s first DVD, recorded live in Branson, Mo. a year ago, was released in December.

Known primarily as an a cappella collective (meaning without musical accompaniment), the sextet has in recent years branched out into performing with symphonies. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra wrote a show with Chapter 6 in mind after they played together a couple of years ago. Called “The Golden Age of Black & White,” Chapter 6 performs it today through Saturday with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Backed by an 85-piece orchestra and accompanied by two Broadway singers, Chapter 6 sings two hours worth of songs from the ’50s while wearing such appropriate garb as tuxedos and letter sweaters. So far the group has staged “The Golden Age of Black & White” in cities such as Detroit and Seattle, as well as Ottawa and Toronto in Canada with each city’s orchestra. “Music from the ’50s is just awesome,” Menard said by phone from Orlando, where he was taking a breather before the Kennedy Center shows. “I didn’t know a lot of it before the show, but it’s a blast singing it.”

If that’s not enough, Chapter 6 now appears to be entering the lucrative jingle business. The crew recently sold its first jingle in Canada, where it’ll be televised and heard nationally. Meanwhile ideas for a new CD are being debated. Menard said they’re considering an all-jazz album with both originals and covers, or an all-hymns collection rearranged for a cappella style. Heavy touring for the first part of the year delays the release of a new album until fall at the earliest.

There’s been at least one bump in the road for Menard. Finding an opening in the schedule, he and his wife decided to take in a quick vacation to Cancun before he was to fly to Toronto for a string of shows. Unfortunately Hurricane Wilma struck at the same time and stranded them for an extra week. The Menards were herded into a convention center with 1,500 other people, where they stayed for two and a half days while the storm stalled over them. Menard could only manage an e-mail alerting his mates to the impending calamity. Luckily everyone was just glad he was safe when he finally met up with them again.

Otherwise if there’s any consequence to Chapter 6’s success, it’s the typical toll living life out of a suitcase takes on the human psyche. “We’ve been on the road so much, I know some of the guys are really getting down, really starting to think hey, maybe I don’t want to be on the road forever,” Menard said. “Myself and another guy, we’re both married, and it’s been a challenge for us to be away from our families for such long periods of time. And seeing the same guys 24 hours a day for months at a time, it gets a little tiring.”

The boost they get from spectators and fans is the incentive that keeps them going. “The audiences have just been awesome,” Menard said. “We’ve had a lot of support, get a lot of e-mails from people saying how much they enjoyed our concerts and giving us encouragement. That’s the thing that really keeps you going, is seeing the audiences and seeing their reactions.”

We have been big fans of Chapter 6 since they won the Harmony Sweepstakes National Finals in 2004 and are pleased to report we have just signed them to our record label and will be distributing their recordings nationally. Click here for more information about their performances this week at the Kennedy Center.

Posted by acapnews at January 6, 2006 12:10 AM