‘A Rockapella Holiday’ Comes to Center for the Arts

Posted: December 17, 2009 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: December 16, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Rockapella. Photo by Ross Leung

Rockapella. Photo by Ross Leung

This five-man a cappella powerhouse is perhaps best known for its “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” theme song. But Rockapella offers far more than that, returning to Mason on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 2 and 8 p.m. with “A Rockapella Holiday.”

This spirited program features classics such as “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” as well as popular new pieces like “Little Mary Snowflake,” a funky new version of “The Dreidel Song” and “Matunda Ya Kwanzaa,” an original composition honoring the celebration of African culture.

Young and old alike are drawn to Rockapella’s humor, style and artistry; amazing and innovative “vocal percussion”; and winning combination of soul, rock, R&B and jazz.

Composed of tenors Scott Leonard, Kevin Wright and John K. Brown, bass George Baldi and vocal percussionist Jeff Thacher, Rockapella reached its first milestone in 1991 when the group appeared as featured performer on the PBS television special “Do It A Cappella” by acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee.

The program served as the perfect platform to launch the group’s career. Shortly after, Rockapella became a household name when the group wrote, recorded and performed the theme song for the PBS television show “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”

The group wrote and performed original music on the show 1990-95, entertaining 10 million viewers a week with its seamless harmonies and witty lyrics. Following “Carmen Sandiego,” the group was cast alongside Hollywood stars Whoopi Goldberg and Denzel Washington in their entertaining family series, “Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child on HBO,” which led to a performance on Goldberg’s HBO special “Chez Whoopi.”

Rockapella has performed extensively on broadcast television, including “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, NBC’s “The Today Show” with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC, CBS’s “The Early Show” with Bryant Gumbel and CBS’s Orange Bowl Parade.

In addition to its concerts and live performances on television and radio, Rockapella is constantly in demand to perform the national anthem at professional sporting events. The group has released seven albums in North America, including the holiday albums “Comfort & Joy” and “Christmas,” and 10 albums in Japan.

Since 2003, Rockapella has performed throughout the country with its annual “A Rockapella Holiday” tour, spreading the joy of the holiday season through their music. The group frequently collaborates with the Boston Pops.

Rockapella often performs benefit concerts to raise money for everything from music education programs to HIV and AIDS research, from children’s hospitals to food banks. In 2007, Rockapella also collaborated on “Hokie Nation: An A Cappella Tribute,” an album of a cappella music supporting victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

A discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

Tickets are $42, $34 and $21; tickets are half price for youth through grade 12 when the child is accompanied by an adult. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.gmu.edu/cfa.

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