HomeLife After “The Sing-Off”

jonmclemore's picture

I don't know how to write this article without sounding like I'm bragging, so I'm just gonna go ahead and brag.  You know, I've been busting my rear doing a cappella for 20 years, paying out of my pocket to travel and gig, sometimes singing for audiences smaller than the group I was in, etc. so maybe I've earned the right to brag...a little.  I do realize, of course, that it is not my doing.  I'm just fortunate to know talented people, and we are all fortunate that NBC took the risk and put together this great show “The Sing-Off”.  And of course, ultimately, all the glory goes to God. 

But back to my bragging...

Street Corner Symphony was formed on May 28, 2010.  One year later, to the day, we performed for Tony Romo's wedding.  Not bad...  It was a wonderful way to celebrate our first anniversary (and Mark's birthday)!  However, the journey here has not been easy.  It has often been discouraging, with disappointments far outnumbering the successes.  I have often thought of giving up.  I have made every mistake, and feel like I've experienced every setback that this industry can throw at you.  But I wouldn't change a thing.  Those failures are what's making this payoff that much sweeter. 

Someone mentioned to me recently that failure is easy, the true test comes when you succeed.  Indeed!  The exposure from the show, and our rapid success, has brought with it many difficult challenges.  Before the show, the goal was to simply have money left over after a gig.  Now the challenge is to not completely screw up a good thing!  There is an incredible amount of pressure because things have happened so fast.  Pressure from opportunities, pressure to make big decisions quickly, pressure from outside the group as well as from inside.  With so much at stake, trying to get six people to agree on something is simply impossible.  We all, at times, just have to take one for the team and get over it for the greater good of the group.   

Prior to the formation of SCS and “The Sing-Off”, I had worked with a couple of pro groups and had found it challenging to get the attention of good representation, much less partner up with a good agent.  Over the years, I have sent out countless press packages, demos, made phone calls to agents, etc. and have been turned down more times than I care to recall.  Post “Sing-Off”, the tables were turned!  We were inundated with offers from some of the biggest booking agents in the world.  We had agents calling US, wanting just a 'few minutes of our time.'  And we are still trying to get this ironed out.  (I would really like to write a note to all the rejecters and say I told you so, but I don't have to because they probably saw me on TV singing with Neil Diamond.  Ha!)

However, it's not like before when we needed an agent to go out and get us gigs.  Booking for SCS right now is easy.  It just involves answering the email requests we are getting from our little booking form on our website, and making deposits to your bank account.  Even while trying to take it slow and keep our calendar manageable, we have filled it up and are now declining a number of offers just because we are already booked.  We have even begun booking things into 2013.  We are able to live in different parts of the country (I live in Montana), commute for engagements, and are setting money aside for retirement.  We were even invited to open for Jay Leno in Vegas, but we said no.  If your name is not Conan O'Brien, we're probably not available.  Nah, seriously, we could not justify it financially because it would have cost us money out of our pocket.  We decided, after many years of struggle, that we will never pay out of pocket to perform with SCS.  So far so good.    

The church I work with (the Church of Christ) sings all a cappella.  Before “The Sing-Off”, that was viewed as strange by outsiders.  Thanks to “The Sing-Off”, people are now intrigued and want to know more.  I see no end to the benefits of this show.   

Well, I am beyond thrilled to be a part of SCS and a movement that is bringing a cappella more mainstream.  We are getting the kinks worked out of this machine, beginning to stabilize, and finding more and more common ground within the group.  It's very exciting and just a lot of fun.  What is happening to SCS, on one hand, is surreal (Tony Romo?  Did that just happen??).  But at the same time, it's what I've been working for my whole life.  I had the vision for this group years ago and it makes perfect sense to me that people want to hear us do what we do, and that they really enjoy it, because what we do is stinkin' cool.  We sold out two shows at the Exit/In in Nashville and burly dudes were drinking beer and cheering for us when we sang “Creep”.  It's about time.  And if not for “The Sing-Off”, we would still be doing nooners at community college cafeterias.  Thank you NBC, Joel Gallen, Deke Sharon, and Rithmaly Hay, for helping bring America to its senses.  (We're available for a Season 3 appearance...just sayin’.) 


About the author:
Jon McLemore began his career in a cappella at age 19, an intern for the Acappella Company in Paris, TN.  Since then, he has vocalized for hire in every U.S. state except Hawaii.  As a member of Minneapolis based groups Go Fish and Four Shadow, Jon’s original tunes garnered numerous CARA nominations and awards as well as time on the contemporary Christian inspirational chart.  He has conducted workshops on harmony, arranging, and songwriting at schools across the country as well as at festivals such as SoJam.  His recording as half of the McLemore Brothers, “Sunday Drive”, won two CARAs in the religious categories. His current group, Street Corner Symphony, was the runner-up on season 2 of “The Sing-Off”.


Love this!

Thanks so much for this post!  Love hearing about your success.  What church are you working with?  (I'm at Glenwood Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.)

John R. Hodges
General Manager, SINGTexas.org
Ambassador for Texas, CASA.org
Founder, ClearlyVocal.com 


For me, Jon, you anchor this group to the broader community because of your years of involvement in it. I mean, what little boy didn't grow up knowing about Jon McLemore! Kidding. But really, your name preceded the group and gave me hope that SCS would be connected to the community even after TSO. Bumps and bruises happen to all groups and as long as SCS can weather them, you guys will still be one of my favorite groups to emerge from TSO. I applaud your successes, am madly jealous at your involvement in Romo's wedding, and wish you guys the best! Hope to see you live someday.

SCS success

You go right ahead and brag all you want Jon, you guys deserve it!!  You guys are awesome!  Congratulations on your continued success!

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