One of the hottest vocal groups in the country, Tonic Sol-Fa, will be appearing at Wautoma’s McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center on Friday, January 18th at 7:00 PM. With over 2 million in album sales and an Emmy Award, Tonic Sol-Fa offers a diverse program and leads the vocal music world as the nation’s premier a cappella group. They were recently voted by Campus Activities Magazine as “One of the top five ‘MUST SEE’ groups in America.” The performance is being sponsored by Dick Rathjen and The Alliant Energy Foundation.
In their twelve years together, 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 with Mark McGowan, who sings baritone, and lead vocalist Shaun Johnson, while both were attending in the mid-1990s. Shortly after forming, the two auditioned for a local entertainment agency, which helped jump-start the group’s performance and appearance schedule. Tenor, Greg Bannwarth, and bass, Jared Dove, joined soon after, completing the quartet. 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 a number of recognizable performers including Jay Leno, Jeff Foxworthy and Lonestar, and were recently part of Garrison Keillor’s 30th Anniversary celebration of A Prairie Home Companion.
From the group’s onset, the four members have overseen and operated the business of Tonic Sol-fa with a 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 multi-million dollar limited liability company by 2007. The group had to overcome a number of obstacles, including an unspoken apprehension to a cappella acts by individuals 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. One could say they gained their current consumer popularity the old fashioned way; they earned it.
At present, Tonic Sol-fa just released their eighth album, entitled “Something Beautiful” on the heels of their previous projects (Greatest Time of Year [DVD], Just One of Those Days, If I Can Dream [DVD], On Top of the World, Christmas [DVD], Boston to Beijing, By Request, Red Vinyl, Sugarue, Front Row , and Style,). The recordings contain only four indelible voices and occasional percussion. This outstanding 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.
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 2013, continuing to spread Tonic Sol-fa’s unique sound to an ever-growing audience.
The group is also dedicated to providing educational outreach to students and will be conducting a master class in vocal technique to middle school and high school students from several Central Wisconsin school districts earlier in the day.
Tickets to “Tonic Sol-Fa”are available at the McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center located at 514 S. Cambridge St., Wautoma. The box office is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am until 2:00 pm, and from 3:00 PM until the performance on September 21st. Orders may be placed by phone at (920) 787-2189, or toll-free at (888) 987-2189, Visa, Discover, and MasterCard are accepted. Group and student discounts are available. For more information visit the PAC website at www.mccombbruchspac.com .