Blending the musical stylings of Tony Bennett and Michael Buble to create a contemporary big band sound with a pop flair, “Shaun Johnson’s Big Band Experience” will be appearing at Wautoma’s McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center on Friday, April 17th at 7:00 PM. The performance is being sponsored by Silvercryst Supper Club, Lund’s Northwoods Auto, The Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, and Brian & Patrick Getchius at Thrivent Financial.
Shaun Terrance Johnson, an Emmy-winning singer/songwriter, seemed destined for a life of music from the very beginning. “One of my earliest memories,” he says, “is of performing at state fair talent shows with my little sister. We’d sing Sonny and Cher songs a cappella when neither of us was quite tall enough to reach the microphone.”
Originally from the small town of Saint Joseph Iowa, Shaun attended Saint John’s University before settling in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where he began his career with the nationally-known vocal group, Tonic Sol-fa. This quartet has been featured in Newsweek, on the Today Show and can be seen across America on PBS. Shaun’s career pursuits have extended to business speaking, home design and writing; his compositions have been an integral part of over 1,000,000 independently sold albums. He is also involved in philanthropic activities with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross.
In a recent interview Shaun provided some background about the show:
Why Big Band?
I love Dean Martin. I study Frank Sinatra and just watched Tony Bennett sing his heart out in a Nashville performing arts theater. Currently, Michael Buble is carrying the torch of these masters of the American Songbook. Though I am certainly not comparing myself to any of these songbirds, I do want to dress up for an elegant evening and sing those songs again. I want to hear “That’s Life” and “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” with an updated horn section and to feel some of those songs rebroadcast with a twist.
What can people expect from the show?
This year’s up-tempo set will include well known songs from a multitude of eras, originals from some of my favorite Nashville writers and requested selections from fans. The shows will include Broadway quality staging and lighting, plenty of audience interaction, and a cadre of fantastic players!
How did you come up with the name, Big Band Experience?
I’m not trying to give people Frank or Dean, but I am trying to give people a feeling, an experience with my own stamp… and thus the name.
A little history?
The “band” features some of the best musicians I could find… guys who’ve played with Jimmy Dorsey and the Temptations, who are Music Educators of the Year and are part of jazz faculties at universities, who have played with such luminaries as Aretha Franklin and Johnny Mathis.
I read that the Big Band style originally came to popularity and offered hope at a time when we were coming out of the Depression, at a time when we were at war… and it isn’t that much different today. It’s the magic that I still love.
Shaun and several band members will also be conducting a Master Class for Middle and High School music students from Wautoma and Wild Rose earlier in the day, made possible by support from the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin.
Tickets to “Shaun Johnson’s Big Band Experience” are available at the McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center located at 514 S. Cambridge St., Wautoma. The box office reopens April 6th, and will be open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am until 2:00 pm, and from 3 pm until the performance on Friday, April 17th. Patrons may also purchase a special dinner package for Silvercryst Supper Club along with their show tickets. Orders may be placed by phone at (920) 787-2189, or toll-free at (888) 987-2189, Visa, Discover, and MasterCard are accepted.