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February 10, 2007

Doughnuts and God

Springfield Journal Register (IL):

A cappella group Chapter 6 takes its name - and mission - from a Bible passage. That hasn’t stopped it from paying tribute to the overwhelmingly joyful sensation of everyone’s first time. Eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut, that is. “It’s basically a love song to the doughnut,” says Chuck Bosworth of Chapter 6’s slow jam, “Ode to Krispy Kreme.” “We knew a couple of guys who hadn’t had an original glazed, and they loved them so much that we decided to write a song about it.”

Shared music, faith and humor has guided Chapter 6 from origins as a Millikin University pop choir to a touring group that’s performed around the nation and sold more than 30,000 albums. Its music blends several sacred selections with mostly secular cover songs and a handful of original material. “I guess I’d say that I attribute most of our success, honestly, to our faith,” says Bosworth, who has lived in Springfield with his wife for about three years. “We are seven Christian brothers who all love music, but we also figured out that we love Jesus.”

Their bond’s strongest test came as most of them prepared to graduate in 2001 from Millikin, where they’d pressed on with a defunct college-credit ensemble, Out Front, for their own performance purposes in and around Decatur. As a “half-joke,” the suggestion arose that they could make music professionally. Winning the Chicago Regional Harmony Sweepstakes’ Grand Champion honors in 2001 qualified the group to compete nationally in San Francisco. There, they didn’t even come in third. Returning from that performance, the group decided to meet in the summer to determine the group’s future.

“We were reading in Acts where it says to give the money you have to people who are in need,” Bosworth says of the meeting. “We actually took our name from verses 3 and 4 of Chapter 6 of Acts, which talk about seven men full of the spirit going out to help distribute food. Music’s our food, six of us perform onstage and one does arrangements.” As Chapter 6, the group sought help from Millikin to send out mailers; two gigs were booked from that promotion. More bookings came as word spread, until a producer with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra happened to hear one of the group’s CDs. “They thought it was great and said, ‘We have to get in contact with these guys,’ ” Bosworth says.

Chapter 6 went on to perform “The 1950s: The Golden Age of Black & White” - an orchestra-backed pops throwback to ’50s music, originally produced in Indianapolis - at major venues across the nation, including the Kennedy Center. But it’s a break from the group’s normal, unaccompanied music - a 70-song repertoire that includes everything from “Bohemian Rhapsody” to “God’s Love.”

Chapter 6 condenses the story of “The Wizard of Oz” into a five-minute medley, complete with a barking Toto. “It Don’t Mean A Thing” squeezes the swing standard through several styles such as folk, salsa, classical fugue, R&B and jazz. “Lost in Canada” gently satirizes our neighbor to the north. All of these songs appeared on “Swing Shift,” Chapter 6’s most recent CD. (The group has released three other CDs and a live DVD.)

“We spend most of our time on the road laughing in a van, and anything that makes us laugh, we turn into songs or moments in our show,” Bosworth says. Along with concerts, Chapter 6 frequently holds workshops with high-school choirs, tackling everything from microphone technique to the ins and outs of pursuing music in college. “It’s always a real treat for us to work with youth,” Bosworth says.

With so much going on, Chapter 6 has learned to not commit to a timetable unless the group can meet it. But two new albums are coming soon - one a pop-funk album and another along more traditional lines. “We have a version of (Gnarls Barkley’s) ‘Crazy’ crossed with Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Take Me Out’ for the first album,” Bosworth says. “And Mark’s doing an arrangement of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ that sort of breaks the rules of a cappella, but allows him to play on piano with us, for the second album. Also for that one, we’ve got a song called ‘Reverb’ that’s a takeoff of ‘Fever.’

“A cappella music is just unique because it’s a real niche market, and there’s not much of it going on. Onstage, we’re six guys, tight chords, comedy and stage patter. It’s not just about the songs. It’s about telling stories through songs. It’s more of an intimate art form because we perform in smaller venues, and it’s a chance to create some great harmony."

Posted by acapnews at February 10, 2007 12:02 AM