HomeFive O’Clock Shadow Celebrates Twenty Years

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A cappella lovers: we are lucky – and I mean lucky – musicians, fans and enthusiasts.  Who doesn’t feel proud to be an a cappella musician when turning on the television, only to see celebrities hosting and judging “The Sing-Off” on NBC? Likewise, it’s an awesome feeling to see contemporary a cappella represented on the Billboard charts, thanks to The Warblers from “Glee,” (okay, but really the Tufts Bubs). 

But contemporary a cappella hasn’t always been in the limelight.  Long before The Warblers danced in Gap, and long before Nick Lachey’s hosting abilities were televised, people and groups such as Deke Sharon and the House Jacks, Bobby McFerrin, and Take 6 were working tirelessly to bring contemporary a cappella into the public eye.  One such group to have succeeded in its talent and passion is Five O’Clock Shadow (FOCS).  Since 1991, the boys of FOCS have been singing, recording, performing, and educating – working diligently to spread art of contemporary a cappella.  Now in its 20th year, FOCS continues to celebrate the art of song and spread their passion through performance, education, and outreach.  The group’s upcoming 20th Anniversary Reunion Concert on April 16th, 2011 – at the Regent Theater in Arlington, MA - is sure to be representative of the culture these men have created since 1991. The 5 original members will be in attendance - Jim Meyers, Bill Eddy, Jeff Thacher, Terry Sanger, and Warren Tessier - along with several others, including Wes Carroll.

In our love of a cappella, it’s necessary that we take note of and thank FOCS for their hard work over the past twenty years.  The group’s major performances and resourceful educational program have created a fan following not just for FOCS, but also for contemporary a cappella in its entirety.  FOCS taught its followers what it truly meant to be an all-vocal rock band.  Over the years, we’ve seen FOCS perform for the Boston Red Sox and the NFL Hall of Fame.  The boys have entered our homes via TV on shows such as VH-1’s “//break.through/” and WB’s “The Morning Show.”  Current member Caleb Whelden also mentions the ABC airing of the Boston Tree Lighting Ceremony this past year, in which the boys performed alongside Katharine McPhee.  Most importantly, the group has traveled to schools across the country to teach our students the value and sheer fun of a cappella.  FOCS also participates in outreach through involvement in the Special Olympics, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and more.  The boys, past and present, are proud to explore digital sound technology, and to be pioneers in bringing a cappella into the public realm.

The boys of FOCS have not stopped there, of course.  Recently, I was given the opportunity to discuss current FOCS news with member Caleb Whelden.  Caleb has provided us with some exciting information regarding the future of FOCS, and has enlightened us with an inside look on what it means to a member of Five O’Clock Shadow.  Here’s a brief look into the world of FOCS: 

FOCS has been graced by over 21 voices over the past 20 years – when asked what factor unifies all past and present members, tenor Caleb Whelden mentions the group’s great sense of humor.  “We do this because we love it, and there’s no doubt that our stage performance reflects that,” says Whelden.  The group’s rich history of members has also given FOCS a rich history of influences – FOCS draws inspiration from Bobby McFerrin, Sting, Guster, The Beatles, U2, and more. 

A cappella has become a major asset to the development of music education programs in schools across the United States.  FOCS has made education a part of their mission, performing and teaching at numerous public schools.  Depending on age range and type of music program, the FOCS Vocal Challenge Program teaches students about topics including:  arranging, music business, vocal percussion, vocal health, rehearsal technique, and much more.  The group’s efforts have impacted the lives of thousands of students.  Caleb tells us, “occasionally, we will receive an e-mail from someone who was a student at one of the schools [we taught at] and two years later, they still remember how our workshop affected their life and love for music.”  This inspiration that the boys have provided to youth across America is especially important in this time of economic hardship – a time when music education faces the threat of budget cuts and low resources.  Contemporary a cappella has always provided a popular, energetic outlet for music exploration, and FOCS truly believes in the power of a cappella to save music education.  “Not everyone can play basketball or football, and for some, music comes more naturally.  It doesn’t take any funding to sing together, and it only takes the desire to create arrangements of music with which [the students] identify,” Caleb states, “…we have been told that we have revitalized and expanded interest in their choral program.” FOCS (and CASA, of course) invites all of you to help music education by assisting music educators in your area!

So what can we look forward to from Five O’Clock Shadow in the future?  Glad you asked!  On April 16th, 2011 at 8pm, the boys of FOCS will be performing in their 20th Anniversary Reunion Concert at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA!  Tickets are $20 for preferred seating and $15 for all other seats.  This is sure to be a not-to-be-missed event!  FOCS is stoked to perform for its fans and reunite with its brotherhood of past members.  Join FOCS and fans for a night of amazing music and memories!  Come find out why MTV called Five O’Clock Shadow “the number 1 vocal-pop band of the new millennium!” 

Again, we owe a huge “thank you” to all members of Five O’Clock Shadow, past and present.  Without their efforts, contemporary a cappella would certainly lack in its recognition.  The men of FOCS have truly inspired and educated a cappella musicians and the entire community with their explorations of the human voice.  Caleb Whelden leaves us with a final thought:  “It’s great to see new groups make bold choices by incorporating cutting edge technology, instrument emulation, and engaging stage performance.”  I think we can all agree that Five O’Clock Shadow is a group of role models – a group rich with history, talent, and resources.  Thank you again to Five O’Clock Shadow for your passion and perseverance.   


About the author:
Erin Shults got her start in contemporary a cappella eight years ago as a member of the award-winning co-ed high school group, BeyondMeasure at Dryden High School in New York.  From there, Erin continued her a cappella participation as a member of Ithaca College's only all-female group, Premium Blend.  While in college, Erin became an avid arranger and presided over Premium Blend in her senior year.  As the group's president, Premium Blend released their third studio album, "Ten," which received a CARA nomination and made its way onto CASA's "Top 10 Female Albums of 2010" list.  She graduated from Ithaca College in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Music.  Recently, Erin has stayed involved as a member of CASA, as the A Cappella Ambassador for the Jacksonville, Florida area, and as a SoJam 2010 presenter/panelist/master clinician.  Her specialties remain all-female arranging and group management/leadership.  In August, Erin will be starting her first year at Florida State University in pursuit of her Master's degree in Arts Administration.


I would give just about

I would give just about anything to live in that area and see this. FOCS was one of the first groups I remember reading about when I got into a Capella music. I hope there is much video and picture taking from this, because that is literally a once in a lifetime thing.

Music...joy, comfort, pain, sorry, happiness, pleasure, excitement. It's all there.

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