Straight No Chaser was formed in 1996 while students at Indiana University. Since its creation, the group has amassed more than 20 million Youtube views and has released two Christmas records: 2008′s “Holiday Spirits” and 2009’s “Christmas Cheers.” Another record, “With A Twist” marks the band’s first departure from holiday fare and debuted at No. 29 on the Billboard 200 chart.
The group came together as 10 guys who happened to be good friends and liked to sing. Original members still with the group are: Collins, founding member Randy Stine, David Roberts, Walter Chase and Charlie Mechling. Other singers in the group include: Michael Luginbill, Don Nottingham, Tyler Treppp, Sargon Iisho, and Steve Morgan.
Straight No Chaser’s most recent effort and its fourth on Atlantic Records, “Under the Influence” was released in May and has the band performing with many of its members singing idols including Stevie Wonder, Sara Bareilles, Jason Mraz,and Rob Thomas.
The group got back to its roots by releasing “Under the Influence: Holiday Edition” to kick off the Christmas season. The holiday record featured appearances by Cee-Lo Green, Otis Redding, and Paul McCartney.
“We all put together a list of artists that we always wanted to work with–influences of our generation–and we found out that they wanted to work with us and it was amazing,” said Collins who resides in West Palm Beach, Fla with his fiancee who is a transplant from West Mifflin. “It was amazing working with all of them—Stevie Wonder especially for me—and what we learned from all of them is longevity. They’ve all had long careers and done it with class. They are not one-hit-wonders.”
Straight No Chaser got its name from a Thelonious Monk song of the same name. Collins believes that best describes the group’s mission and thus its appeal to the masses.
“Straight No Chaser is music without accompaniment and that’s exactly what we are,” Collins said.
“When Charlie came up with the name it stuck. We are not a traditional a cappella group. We are 10 guys who have fun on stage and the audience is in on the joke. We take music seriously but not ourselves. We make the audience feel like they know us.”
Straight No Chaser graced the Benedum Center stage as a stop on its “Under the Influence” tour on December 11 as part of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents Series.
“It’s great for audiences to see music at its purest form. There’s nothing to hide behind,” Collins said.