Rockapella performing in Clearwater, Florida on December 20, 2013.
|Origin||New York City, U.S.A.|
|Labels||Shakariki Records / PAID, Inc.
George Baldi III
|Past members||Sean Altman
John K. Brown
Rockapella is an American a cappella musical group formed in 1986 in New York City. Their name is a portmanteau of "rock" and "a cappella". Rockapella sings original vocal music and a cappella covers of pop and rock songs; over time, their sound has evolved from high-energy pop and world music toward a more R&B-style sound. Rockapella originally found their biggest success in Japan, while in North America, they are best remembered for their role on the hit PBS Kids geography game show Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? as a vocal house band and resident comedy troupe, as well as the singers of the show's main theme song. Rockapella has released 19 albums, both in North America and overseas, and 3 compilation albums in Japan. The text "All sounds provided by the voices and appendages of Rockapella", the central idea of the band, has appeared on all of their CDs since the addition of their vocal percussionist.
- 1 Band history
- 2 Life after Rockapella
- 3 Membership history
- 4 Discography
- 5 Songs in Commercials
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Pre-Carmen Sandiego years (1986–1991)
The founding members of Rockapella were consisted of Brown University alumni Sean Altman, Elliott Kerman, Steve Keyes, and David Stix. They had each been in an a cappella group at Brown called High Jinks, but not all at the same time. Having been in High Jinks the longest, Altman was the only connection between the other three; when they found with each other in New York City after their graduation, they decided to form Rockapella. They began performing on New York City street corners with a hat at their feet and a song repertoire that consisted of a mix of barbershop arrangements and a cappella renditions of classic doo wop pieces that evolved to focus less on oldies and barbershop and more on contemporary rock music. Passers-by began to drop business cards into the hat, and these street corner performances led to private party and club performances around NYC.
Stix left the group in 1987 to pursue his artistic career and was replaced by Charlie Evett. That same year, a dinner party performance for television personality Kathie Lee Gifford led to Rockapella's 1988 appearance on the WABC-TV show The Morning Show, Regis Philbin and Gifford's NYC morning talk show before it went national. Their performance of Altman's signature arrangement of the calypso novelty standard "Zombie Jamboree" caught the eye of producer Gerard Brown. He invited Rockapella to perform on the PBS "Great Performances" TV special Spike Lee & Company – Do It A Cappella, which would put them into the national spotlight. However, Evett left the group to continue a career in software design in 1988 before the special's taping, and Barry Carl was hired to take his place.
Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (1991–1997)
With a PBS special and numerous morning talk show appearances under their collective belt, Rockapella was noticed by the producers of an up-and-coming PBS Kids game show Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?. Before the show's premiere, Keyes had decided to leave the band to launch his legal career, but was still part of the band when they auditioned and were hired to write and perform the theme song for the show as well as appear as the comic relief house band. Keyes was replaced by Scott Leonard, who had just returned from a career as the lead singer in a Tokyo Disneyland digi-rock band. Between Leonard joining the band and the start of their television break, Rockapella began to pick up fame, starring in a Whoopi Goldberg HBO special "Chez Whoopi", a Taco Bell commercial, and opened for acts such as Chuck Berry, Styx, Billy Joel, and their a cappella idols The Persuasions, who the group had met on the Do It A Cappella special. They also performed on Jay Leno's first New Year's Eve episode of The Tonight Show in 1992.
Rockapella first appeared on the half-hour game show in 1991 and continued to appear daily for five seasons, catapulting the band's four members into mid-level television celebrity status and making the Rockapella-performed theme song (which was penned by Altman and his childhood friend David Yazbek) as one of the best known television themes in history. Jeff Thacher joined Rockapella as the band's permanent vocal percussionist in 1993, although he only appeared on Carmen Sandiego during its fifth and final season. While Rockapella was seen daily in homes across America, Leonard used his connections to the Japanese music market to acquire a recording contract with ForLife Records. The group released 7 albums of original and cover material under this label in Japan during their run on Carmen Sandiego and for two years after that, being the first to bring contemporary a cappella music to Japan.
Post-Carmen Sandiego years (1997–present)
Following the end of Carmen Sandiego in 1996, Altman left Rockapella to pursue his solo career the following year, and was replaced by Kevin Wright; it was this line-up that would find itself gaining a boost in popularity in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. An American record label, two Folger's coffee commercials that ran between 1998 and 2001, respectively, and another PBS special of their December 9, 2000 concert brought Rockapella to be known as the front-runners of modern day a cappella. In 2002, Carl hung up his pipes as bassist and was replaced by George Baldi III. In 2003, the group started their now annual "A Rockapella Holiday" tour, and in 2004, they released a live album, as well as re-released all of their previous North American albums on the independent label Shakariki Records. That same year, Kerman, the group's baritone and the last remaining founding member of the group, decided to leave Rockapella and was replaced by John K. Brown, a second tenor. This membership change initiated the era of, as the group refers to it, "The New Rockapella", in which the group has added more choreography and energy to their concert performances. Between 2005 and 2009, Rockapella focused on touring both domestically and around the world, continuing their popularity in North America and Japan while also boosting their newfound popularity in Europe and Asia in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, and South Korea. Rockapella began joining the Boston Pops on stage in the eastern US in 2006, creating a concert experience that shows both the orchestra's and Rockapella's talents separately and together in a manner never done before: a cappella with instrumentation. In August 2009, Wright announced he would be leaving the group at the end of the year to spend more time with his family; his last performance with the band was on December 22 of that same year, and was replaced by Steven Dorian.
In August 2010, the group announced their first ever concert cruise through Galaxsea Travel aboard Carnival Cruise Lines' Glory. It took place on January 23–30, 2011 and included private concerts and a meet and greet cocktail party with Rockapella. On September 21, 2010, after much build up by the group since January, the band released Bang, their first full scale studio album since 2002, in digital format via iTunes, Amazon.com, and their website; physical CDs became available on October 21. On December 17, PAID Inc., the group's brand management and marketing resource, announced a partnership with Fairwood Studios that resulted in Rockapella becoming the first a cappella band to be featured in the Rock Band Network. The project to make "Bang", the title track off their newest album, the first track in Rock Band to feature full, four-instrument gameplay based on no live or synthesized instruments began in the summer of 2010, and was released for purchase on January 30, 2011 through the RBN. As shown by an accompanying video released through YouTube on Fairwood Studios' channel, the vocal player sings along with Leonard's lead, the guitarist strums to Brown and Dorian's backup vocals, the bass guitar player follows Baldi's bass vocals, and the player on the drums uses Thacher's vocal percussion as their notes.[note 1] At the beginning of 2011, the band's cover of "It's A Small World" from their album Comfort & Joy, was featured in a TV commercial for the animated film Gnomeo and Juliet. Along with their usual holiday shows, Rockapella joined the Boston Pops in November and December 2011 for ten shows during their Christmas tour, a first for the band. On November 16, 2011, Rockapella released a new holiday album, A Rockapella Holiday, announcing the release via Facebook. In the spring of 2012, Rockapella revealed a new covers album was in the works, titled Motown & More, to accompany their live show of the same name. Just prior to release, a YouTube sampler of the forthcoming album tracks was posted & announced via Facebook, presenting song clips accompanied by album-related graphics. The album was released on March 15, 2013 on iTunes and is currently also available on Amazon.com & CDBaby. The band released two music videos of original music on YouTube in 2013: "Pretty Much You" from Motown & More on May 21, 2013, and "4U4Now4Life" from Bang on September 10, 2013. In a Facebook post on October 14, Brown announced he would be leaving the group at the end of the month to enter the ministry full-time. He was replaced by Calvin Jones, who began performing with the group at their first Christmas show of 2013.
Life after Rockapella
Most of the former members of Rockapella have remained in the singing business since their departures. Altman, Keyes, Evett, and non-Rockapella-member baritone Kevin Weist now comprise an a cappella group called The GrooveBarbers. They were cast in a nationwide television ad for Astelin nasal spray as 'The Astelins'. They focus more on Altman's originals, barbershop arrangements, and a cappella doo wop than covers of pop songs. Altman has also released three solo albums and two Jewish comedy albums, one of which to go along with his solo comedy act Jewmongous. Kerman is working independently on jazz music compilations. Carl recorded a solo album, The SoLow Project, in 2004 and has pursued various musical and voice-over opportunies, as well as enjoying his semi-retirement. Kerman and Carl have joined The GrooveBarbers on stage on more than one occasion, and since 2008 have reunited with Altman and Keyes on five occasions, billing themselves as XRP. This regrouping of the 1988–1991 line up of Rockapella was originally scheduled to occur only twice: once as a practice gig on July 26, 2008, and a second time at the 2008 A Cappellastock in Ogden, Utah on August 23. However, XRP got together for a third show on April 17, 2009 and sang a song written by Carl and Altman on the Schoolhouse Rock!: Earth Rock soundtrack called "You Oughta Be Savin' Water". Following this, a fourth concert on December 13, 2012 was announced by Carl, and a fifth concert in support of the Harlem, New York City public school Central Park East 2 on February 1, 2014 was announced by Altman.
|1986||Steve Keyes||Sean Altman||Elliott Kerman||David Stix|
|2002||George Baldi III|
|2004||John K. Brown|
- Temporary Members
- Kenny X – Vocal percussion (1992 touring)
- David Yazbek – Vocal percussion (1992) (on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego soundtrack)
|March 2013||Motown & More||Leonard, Dorian, Brown, Baldi, Thacher||Shakariki Records / PAID, Inc.|
|November 2011||A Rockapella Holiday||Leonard, Dorian, Brown, Baldi, Thacher||Shakariki Records / PAID, Inc.|
|September 2010||Bang||Leonard, Dorian, Brown, Baldi, Thacher||Shakariki Records / PAID, Inc.|
|June 2004||Live In Japan||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Baldi, Thacher||Shakariki Records|
|November 2002||Comfort & Joy||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Baldi, Thacher||Amerigo Records
Re-released on Shakariki Records in 2004
|August 2002||Smilin'||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Baldi, Thacher||Amerigo Records
Re-released on Shakariki Records in 2004
|March 2001||In Concert||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||J-Bird Records
Re-released on Shakariki Records in 2004
|October 2000||Christmas||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||J-Bird Records
Re-released on Shakariki Records in 2004
|March 2000||2||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||J-Bird Records
Re-released on Shakariki Records in 2004
|February 1999||Don't Tell Me You Do||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||J-Bird Records
Re-released on Shakariki Records in 2004
|Mid-1997||Rockapella||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||Independent|
|Mid-1996||Lucky Seven||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||Independent|
|Mid-1995||Primer||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||Independent|
|June 2005||Live At Duo Music Exchange||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Baldi, Thacher||Duo Records|
|2002||In Concert||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||Rentrak Records|
|November 2001||Christmas||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||Rentrak Records|
|November 1996||Lucky Seven:
Memories And Dreams
|Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||ForLife Records|
|November 1995||Best Fest||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||ForLife Records|
|November 1994||Out Cold||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||ForLife Records|
|April 1994||Vocobeat||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||ForLife Records|
|December 1992||Bash!||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl||ForLife Records|
|May 1992||From N.Y.||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl||ForLife Records|
|May 1992||To N.Y.||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl||ForLife Records|
|September 2002||Best A Cappella||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||ForLife Records|
|2002||More Than Ever||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||Rentrak Records|
|2007||Hokie Nation: An A Cappella Tribute||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||"I'll Hear Your Voice"|
|2002||20 Christmas Stars, Vol. IV||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Baldi, Thacher||"Merry Christmas Darling"|
|2000||Mark and Brian: Little Drummer Boys||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||Silver Bells" (Live performance)|
|2000||A Cappella Christmas Party||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl||"Hold Out For Christmas"|
|1999||Revival – Sam Harris||Leonard, Wright, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||"A Change In My Life" (Background vocals)|
|1996||Voices Only: A Cappella Originals||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||"Bed Of Nails"|
|1995||Ben & Jerry's One World-One Heart For Kids||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl||"The Light Of The Sun" w/Richie Havens|
|1994||Biggest Little Ticket||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||"Everything To Me"
"I Like You Very Much"
|1993||Carmen Sandiego: Out of This World||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Thacher||"Big Wet Rag"|
|1993||Put On Your Green Shoes||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl||"Light Of The Sun" w/Richie Havens|
|1993||Muppet Beach Party||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl||"Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow"|
|1992||Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl, Yazbek||"Capital"
"Everything To Me"
"Let's Get Away From It All"
"Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?"
|1992||Modern A Cappella||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl||"Zombie Jamboree"|
|1991||Zappa's Universe||Leonard, Altman, Kerman, Carl||"Elvis Has Left The Building"
"Heavenly Bank Account"
|1990||Spike Lee & Company: Do It A Cappella||Keyes, Altman, Kerman, Carl||"Zombie Jamboree"
"Under The Boardwalk" (with True Image)
|March 2002||Alt.mania||Sean Altman|
|June 2005||Losing Streak||Sean Altman|
|2006||Unorthodox||Sean Altman (What I Like About Jew)|
|2008||Taller Than Jesus||Sean Altman (JEWMONGOUS)|
|March 2010||Guts||The GrooveBarbers|
|July 2004||The SoLow Project||Barry Carl|
|1996||My Favorites: The Bee Gees||Scott Leonard|
|February 1999||Bluespeel||Scott Leonard (Flying Faders)|
|2002||Nice Kitty||Scott Leonard (fi-Ling Fader)|
|May 2007||1man1mike||Scott Leonard|
|March 2010||Tokyo Robots||Scott Leonard|
|January 2009||Essence of Worship||John K. Brown|
|January 2009||God Has A Hold On Me||John K. Brown|
|June 2010||bOOmbOOm||John K. Brown|
|June 2011||Unplugged||John K. Brown|
|November 2012||A "Just Play It" Christmas||John K. Brown|
Songs in Commercials
- Gnomeo and Juliet - feature film trailer
- Folgers coffee
- NBC The Today Show promos for the earliest version of the program's "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" segment. The song was re-recorded later in different styles by other musicians.
- Mounds/Almond Joy
- Kent Super Lights - Japan-only
- Showtime - (Became "We Got A Happy Holiday" song from Japan-only album "Bash")
- Taco Bell
- AFLAC insurance
- ProScan televisions
- Ozone Ford - Long Island, NY dealership (now defunct)
- Full length video of "Bang" gameplay on expert autoplay. Youtube.com (January 31, 2011). Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Spike & Co.: Do It A Cappella Review | TV Reviews and News. EW.com (October 05, 1990). Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- The Showbiz Wizard: ROCKAPELLA'S SCOTT LEONARD!. Theshowbizwizard.blogspot.com (January 03, 2011). Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Interview With Rockapella's Jeff Thacher | A Cappella Music – The Contemporary A Cappella Society. Casa.org (August 14, 2010). Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- News – Spring '06 | News. Rockapella. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Kevin Wright Says a Loving Goodbye to Rockapella | News. Rockapella. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Kevin Wright's Final Shows with Rockapella | News. Rockapella. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- New Album "Bang" – Download TODAY! | News. Rockapella. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Rockapella Makes Unprecedented, All-Vocal Contribution to Rock Band Network. Fairwoodstudios.com (December 17, 2010). Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Rockapella to Do It on the RBN. Rockbandaide.com. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Did you hear that.... Facebook. (December 22, 2010). Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Full Song – "Bang" – Xbox.com. Marketplace.xbox.com. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Rockapella (Performers) (December 17, 2010). Rockapella Comes to Rock Band! (Video game). New York: Fairwood Studios. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
- Featured in Gnomeo and Juliet Commercial | News. Rockapella. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Rockapella's Scott Leonard | Spot on Long Island. Spotonli.com. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- Jeff Thacher (June 8, 2011). Jeff Thacher Checks In. Boston. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- Rockapella proudly announces the new album!. Facebook. (November 16, 2011). Retrieved on November 16, 2011.
- Yes, it's true.... Facebook. (May 31, 2012). Retrieved on May 31, 2012.
- Rockapella's latest show.... Facebook. (March 19, 2012). Retrieved on May 31, 2012.
- September 14, 2012 Boston, MA Upcoming Show | Tour schedule and concert tickets. Rockapella. Retrieved on May 31, 2012.
- FAN PREVIEW: EXCLUSIVE SAMPLER of the new album.... Facebook. (March 11, 2013). Retrieved on March 11, 2013.]
- Here's the iTunes.... Facebook. (March 15, 2013). Retrieved on March 15, 2013.
-  Amazon.com Retrieved on April 15, 2013.
-  CDBaby.com Rockapella page. Retrieved on April 15, 2013.
- Good Evening FB, I wanted to let you all know... Facebook. (October 14, 2013). Retrieved January 26, 2014.
- A Farewell...and A New Addition Rockapella.com. Retrieved on January 26, 2014.
- XRP – Sean Altman, Steve Keyes, Elliott Kerman & And Barry Carl Tickets. Smarttix.com (July 26, 2008). Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- A Cappellastock. A-cappella.com. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- XRP – Original Members of Rockapella | TCAN – The Center for Arts in Natick | The Center for Arts in Natick | MUSIC. ArtsBoston.org (April 17, 2009). Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
- XRP rides again!!.... Facebook. (October 1, 2012). Retrieved on October 24, 2012.
- Harlem Public School Benefit!. (January 23, 2014). Retrieved on January 26, 2014.
- Official website
- Official Facebook account
- Official Twitter account
- Scott Leonard's official website
- Sean Altman's official website
- Elliott Kerman's official website
- Barry Carl's official website
- John K. Brown's official website
- The Groovebarbers' official website
- JEWMONGOUS' official website
- PAID Inc.'s webiste
- Fairwood Studios' website