Tonic Sol-fa (a cappella group)

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Tonic Sol-fa
Origin Minneapolis–Saint Paul
Genres a cappella

Tonic Sol-fa is an a cappella quartet from the Minneapolis–Saint Paul region. With a largely pop-music-oriented repertoire, their CDs have sold over 1,000,000 copies,[citation needed] and the group has toured throughout the US and abroad.[citation needed]


Tonic Sol-fa has established itself not only as the most in-demand vocal group in the Midwest, but also one of the most successful independent acts in America. In addition to substantial CD sales of its own independent releases (2,000,000 copies sold), the group has toured extensively throughout the US and abroad, building their financial base with a steady list of festivals and private shows that eventually led to numerous sold-out tours of theaters and small arenas.

Tonic Sol-fa began at St. John’s University in Central Minnesota and includes lead vocalist Shaun Johnson, tenor and vocal percussionist Greg Bannwarth, and bassist Jared Dove. Together the group reached national prominence with appearances on NBC’s Today Show and in Newsweek magazine. Along the way, they shared the stage with performers including Jay Leno, Jeff Foxworthy and Lonestar, and were part of Garrison Keillor’s 30th anniversary celebration of A Prairie Home Companion.

From the group’s onset, the members have overseen and operated the business of Tonic Sol-fa with only a small team of driven supporters acting as managers, lawyers, and publicists, and increased revenue from a few thousand dollars in their first year to a multimillion-dollar limited liability company today.[when?] The group overcame a number of obstacles, including an unspoken apprehension to a cappella acts by individuals[who?] in the music industry and having a name that was anything but catchy (a system of naming the notes of the scale, usually do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, developed to teach singing). Still, the group persevered, recording and manufacturing its own records and selling them to a growing legion of fans via the Internet and social networking sites, in the lobby of the theaters where they performed, and through a growing national distribution.

At present,[when?] Tonic Sol-fa is in the studio recording their latest album, entitled Original, a new recording in a catalog of numerous award-winning DVD and CD projects highlighting three voices. This blend has resulted in multiple contemporary a cappella recording awards, NACA (National Association of Collegiate Activities) Entertainer of the Year nominations, considerable national press, and has landed their music on the best-selling seasonal DVD at Wal-Mart, The 12 Dogs of Christmas.

Further Tonic Sol-fa released their third television holiday special in 2010, which aired over 1800 times in forty-seven states and Canada. The new PBS special will be shown through 2015.[needs update]

In 2017, former band member Mark Thomas McGowan was convicted of felony theft for embezzling $27,154 from Tonic Sol-Fa between January 2010 and December 2014.[1]

Members since 2000[edit]

  • Shaun Johnson - tenor (founding member)
  • Greg Bannwarth - tenor
  • Jared Dove - bass
  • Theo Brown

Former members[edit]

  • Cheston Lance - tenor (founding member)
  • Tim Hoback - bass
  • Greg Terhaar - tenor (founding member)
  • Steve Smith - bass (founding member)
  • Mark McGowan - baritone (founding member) [2][3]


National releases[edit]

  • Boston to Beijing CD (June 2005)

Self-produced releases[edit]

  • Original CD (2015)
  • LIVE CD (2014)
  • The Earth Stood Still CD (2013)
  • Twenty One CD (2012)
  • March of The Kings CD (2011)
  • Greatest Time of Year DVD (2010)
  • Greatest Time of Year CD (2010)
  • Just One of Those Days CD (2009)
  • Christmas Companion CD (2008)
  • On Top Of The World (Holiday) CD (2007)
  • Christmas DVD (2006)
  • By Request CD (2004)
  • Red Vinyl CD (2003)
  • Sugarue (Holiday) CD (2002)
  • Style CD (2001)
  • Tonic Sol-Fa five CD (1999)
  • Carol (Holiday) CD (1997)
  • Left Turns in Cross Traffic CD (1996)
  • 4 hours and 12 days CD (1995)


External links[edit]