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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 15, 2007

UI Hancher Auditorium presents 'A Rockapella Holiday' Dec. 5

The University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will host "A Rockapella Holiday" -- a joyous family concert by the kings of contemporary a capella singing -- at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5.

A whole generation grew up hearing Rockapella on "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" and now, more than a dozen albums later, Rockapella is pushing the envelope of unaccompanied vocals with a combination of classic and original songs that combine elements of soul, jazz and rock.

The original quartet, a group of young Brown University alumni, began singing on New York City street corners with a hat out at their feet. They would earn enough from passersby to get dinner, and business cards dropped in their hat led to work at private parties and club appearances.

They caught the eye of a producer putting together a television special about the growing genre of "contemporary" a cappella music. After filmmaker Spike Lee and entertainer Debbie Allen signed on to host this program, it became "Spike & Co.: Do It A Cappella" on PBS.

Rockapella's appearance on the show soon led the creators of a zany daily geography gameshow to give the group a call. They were seeking original music for their show's theme song and elements, as well as some on-camera comic relief. With the exposure on "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?" the Rockapella phenomenon took off. Soon live appearances and collaborations with major recording artists began to appear on their resume.

In late 1992, realizing they were writing more and more sophisticated songs, heading toward a fuller "band" sound, Rockapella tried something that almost no singing group had ever considered before: They held auditions for a full-time mouth drummer, or "vocal percussionist." Jeff Thacher joined the group and soon his drum-like oral talents appeared throughout their recordings and on "Carmen Sandiego," inspiring a wave of young mouth drummers who continue to study his unique talents and style.

While releasing a series of CDs, Rockapella also was seen and heard by millions on national commercials, including a famous 1998 Folgers coffee advertising campaign the featured the group singing the entire commercial on-camera. The response to this ad was unprecedented, and Folgers soon followed up with a second spot with a holiday theme.

In winter of 2000, the first holiday album, "Christmas, "appeared and became their first release to chart on Billboard, leading to additional holiday collections -- and "A Rockapella Holiday."

The Dec. 5 concert is supported by McDonald Optical and John and Danette Raley, RE/MAX Partners, American Family Insurance, through the University of Iowa Foundation. Media support comes from the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Remaining tickets are $28/25; UI student and youth $15; senior citizen $25.20/22.50.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered online 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: April Thibeault,; Winston Barclay Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),

PHOTOS: are available at