They’ve become one of the world’s most sophisticated, lasting, and imitated vocal groups around today. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more influential group out there in this new era of network television a cappella shows like NBC’s The Sing-Off, movies like Pitch Perfect, and innumerable college vocal groups that own the corner of cool on campuses everywhere.
Since the early ’90’s when they first achieved national television fame on PBS’s Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, they’ve toured the globe and provided a funky powerful soundtrack to several generations of vocal music fans, while keeping it all fresh along the way. With buckets of catchy original pop songs, and complete contemporary revisions of sparkling Motown, pop, and soul classics, this group has always been the one to watch. ”Often imitated – never duplicated” applies here. Now they’re better than ever!
As one of the progenitors of the astonishing full-band sound of “contemporary” a cappella, Rockapella has shown every audience the raw power of pure vocal talent and originality. “There’s nothing between us and the audience – it’s very human music – with nothing missing” says Rockapella’s human beatbox Jeff Thacher. No instruments, no tracks, no mirrors…but never lame.
We make it rock and make it interesting,” explains Scott Leonard, the group’s chief songwriter, arranger and an architect of their ever-evolving and imitated dynamic sound. USA Today summed up the lasting appeal like this: “The best musical instrument of all is the human voice – if you’ve seen Rockapella you know that’s the truth.”
The current Rockapella line-up features Scott Leonard (since 1991, High Tenor), Jeff Thacher (1993, Vocal Percussionist), Steven Dorian (2010, Tenor), Calvin Jones (2013, Tenor), and Ryan Chappelle (2015, Bass). This line-up marks a new generation of Rockapella, who remain keenly focused on musical excellence. “People have a hard time believing it’s just us making all of that music. It’s still those same elements that make modern band music: percussion, bass, melody and harmonies,” says Scott. “Our success is in the art of it – it’s not what you do, but how you do it!” adds Jeff. And Rockapella has indeed proven that forming original pop & soul magic onstage is what sets them apart.
Rockapella uses AKG wireless microphones in concert.
A worldwide talent search led Rockapella to Steven Dorian, a former baseball star at the University of Massachusetts. Steven comes to Rockapella straight from the world famous stages of Disney, having played many major roles in Disney productions, including Disney’s Festival of the Lion King. Steven is a man of many talents whose singing, dancing and guitar playing have been showcased from Branson to New York, opening for Kenny Rogers, performing for international audiences. With his gorgeous vocals, smooth style, and magical grace on the stage, Steven rounds out the savory blend of Rockapella’s three tenors.
Our newest member, Ryan Chappelle hails from Lincoln, Nebraska and has previously provided thundering bass lines for Lincoln’s No Better Cause, and Boston’s mighty Ball In The House (BITH). Our drummer, Jeff, is always on the lookout for big funky bass lines to drum with, and Ryan has been at the top of his list. We’re now happy to welcome Ryan to the family!
Pyrotechnics is a word often used to describe Scott Leonard‘s singing voice. Scott grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and though he departed the Hoosier State for the University of Tampa on a baseball scholarship, he ended up a voice major. He sang in rock groups for Disney in both Orlando and Tokyo for two years, releasing solo albums while in Japan. Scott’s soaring vocals and songwriting prowess have played major roles in shaping Rockapella’s characteristic sound.
Visit Scott’s personal website: ScottLeonardMusic.com
The astonishing percussion sounds you hear in a Rockapella show are performed vocally by Jeff Thacher, completing Rockapella’s band-without- instruments sound. Born of a very musical family and raised on piano lessons from an early age, he later added frequent vocal and choral experience. After receiving a degree in music and recording from Boston’s renowned Berklee College, Jeff spent a few years working in the radio and television industries while singing and experimenting with vocal percussion on the side in various groups, developing his unique sound. Since joining Rockapella in 1993, he’s been known as a pioneering giant among professional mouth drummers (a select group of beatboxers) who, as he likes to put it, “spit for a living”. Jeff’s powerful virtuosity forms the funky rhythmic heartbeat of Rockapella, delighting and astonishing audiences everywhere. An American original, for sure!
Jeff uses D-TAR Soundspots pickups in-concert.
Calvin C. Jones was born and raised in East St. Louis, IL, and grew up idolizing Michael Jackson & Stevie Wonder. He started singing at an early age, then joined the vocal group Men Of Note at 13 and traveled the world as one of their lead singers for many years. Singing led to a passion for theater, and he went on to be featured in shows such as Dreamgirls, Fabulous 50′s, & Little Shop of Horrors, and brought his talents as a lead singer to the group SouthTown Fever. Rockapella had the good fortune to find Calvin while he was showcasing his silky smooth voice as a featured singer at Busch Gardens, Tampa, FL.
John K. Brown is a native son of Louisville, KY and his warm, soulful, spicy voice, and top notch performance skills have enhanced Rockapella for many years! John has a successful career in gospel music, and can be found teaching and conducting young people when not onstage. We’re so pleased he can rejoin us occasionally!
You can also find John at www.projectjkb.com
Special guest Super-bass George Baldi hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia. We found him while he was playing a handsome singing Frankenstein at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan! His rich soulful voice, remarkable solo range, overall top notch musicianship and good looks are a pleasure onstage. George has toured for many years with Rockapella and we’re always happy to welcome him to the stage going forward!
When not joining us onstage, tenor talent Christopher Rossi tours the nation with his a cappella group, reVoiced (musicrevoiced.com). He’s also a veteran of the Branson, MO group The Cat’s Pajamas, and has appeared on America’s Got Talent. Most recently, Chris joined us for our Holiday 2014 tour!