HomeMeet Your CASA Ambassador: Donna Stefani [Chicago and IL / US]

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Donna Stefani

When did you first become involved in a cappella?  In what capacity?

On 11/29/09, I came home from work and turned on the TV to a Peter, Paul, & Mary retrospective on PBS. During the pledge break, they began talking about the program that was to follow.  It was the first airing of the Straight No Chaser (SNC) Christmas concert. I didn't know what a cappella was, didn't think I'd ever heard it, but PBS made it sound like they were living the American Dream!

They talked about the group, their history, how they were discovered and signed to Atlantic Records (AR) years after they graduated from Indiana University (IU).  It sounded so interesting, I set the DVR up to record it and waited for it to come on.

With the 3rd song, "i'm Yours/Somewhere Over the Rainbow", they had me! I'd never heard "I'm Yours", didn't know who Jason Mraz was, but Mike went into that song, and I was in love! I watched and recorded it to DVD, and by the end of the night, I'd watched it twice and knew everything there was to know about the group that was available on the internet.

Family, friends, co-workers, I didn't care who, everyone had to not only hear everything about them, but were coerced into watching that PBS special, and day by day, one by one, family by family, they all became fans.  I hosted Christmas Eve dinner that year, and I played it for the family before dinner.

I've been involved on the fan site since the beginning of 2010, known as the Cheerleader Chaser. Chasers are what the SNC fans are called.  It sounds so much better than stalker! I rally the troops, promote their music and concerts on the site, Twitter, and Facebook, answer questions & welcome new members to the site. I was even named Chaser of the Month at one point.

I became involved with collegiate a cappella when I went to my 1st IU SNC concert in November 2010 when they appeared at the Best of the Midwest at Northwestern University near Chicago. They are just as good at what they do as the Atlantic Record's group is at what they do.

My boyfriend, also a musician, was talking to one of the boys after the concert, and he mentioned that they often have people come up to them at concerts telling them that they thought they were going to the Atlantic group's concert, and how hurtful that is!  With that, they worked their way into my heart.

When did you first become involved with CASA?

In my quest to find the old IU SNC music, I emailed, phoned, wrote, harassed, anyone that had ever had any connection, no matter how small or remote, to the IU SNC group. I don't remember how I found TeKay's email, but 8 months later, he emailed me back, asking if I'd ever been able to find what I was looking for.  I had, and when I told him how I'd done it, and how I'd become involved with both groups, he suggested I apply for the ambassador program.  I read about it and sent in the application that week! Since November 2010, I've been the middleman between IU SNC & the Atlantic Recordís SNC fans for the older CDs that were released over the years by SNC while at IU. The CDs aren't available anywhere but directly from the IU group at their concerts.

What geographic region do you cover as a CASA ambassador?

The Chicagoland area and IN

What role do you play as a CASA ambassador and/or what role would you like to play?

I'm a great cheerleader, and I have an almost childlike exuberance when I'm excited about something. I'm really looking forward to discovering what I'm going to excel at in this experience.

What do you do for work and play?

I work for the Illinois State Police, on year 28. I'm passionate about genealogy, and have been to Italy twice now doing research with a professional genealogist. I'm new to photography, but I come to it legitimately as my dad was a professional. I bought a good quality point and shoot about 5 years ago and it sat until I discovered SNC last year.  I now bring 2 cameras with me to the concerts and I'm rabid about taking photos and video.

Tell us one thing about yourself people would be surprised to learn

For a very long time, I was shy, quiet, and an introvert!

Favorite a cappella group?

Straight No Chaser, no big surprise there! Both the Indiana University and Atlantic Records groups.

Favorite type of music?

Basically anything SNC does! I've generally been a decade behind in my music taste!

Favorite a cappella concert?

My 2nd IU SNC concert was earlier this year at Notre Dame on my birthday. The boys brought me up on stage and sang "My Girl" to me. I was high on that for weeks!

Anything you'd like the CASA readership to know about your area?

The Midwest appears to have a large number of groups.  I'm looking forward to learning more about them.