By C.A. KELLER
Cowboy hat-clad tenors will take the stage at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., next week. Three of them, to be exact.
The Texas Tenors will bring their signature “country roots, classical sound” to the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., at 7:30 p.m. April 14.
"America's Got Talent" stars The Texas Tenors will bring their signature "country roots, classical sound" to the downtown venue at 7:30 p.m. April 14. The tenors sing a combination of classic ballads like "My Way," Somewhere" and "Unchained Melody" along with original music - like the two new songs that will debut on their upcoming album.
The Houston-based trio consists of Marcus Collins, J.C. Fisher and John Hagen, three longtime friends whose gifts for music never united until they decided to audition for "America's Got Talent" in 2009.
The friends sand apart and had never considered performing together until they decided to put a group together for the audition.
This is surprising, given the range and power of their voices and all they have in common.
"We've been best friends for 12 years," Collins said. "We'd all trained classically at different colleges, and we all have country backgrounds, but we all have really different voices. We never thought of putting our voices together."
According to Collins, it was Fisher who encouraged the group to form. From simple beginnings, the group rose to be the first band to ever rank number one on both the classical and country charts. Three hundred and fifty shows after their vault to stardom, the band has released one album, "Country Roots, Classical Sound," has toured internationally and will release their second album later this year.
"We came up with the 'country roots, classical sounds' (idea), because that's who we are," Collins said. "We wanted to just take music that we love and music that's enjoyable to people, and put a Texas Tenors spin on it."
They tread with respect when it comes to such cherished songs as "Unchained Melody," which Collins says the trio knows carry significance for audience members.
"We understand the love of that song and we want to pay tribute and do that song justice," Collins said.
That said, the band knows that music is a source of connection for musicians and audience members alike. When push comes to shove, "we want (the audience) to feel how we feel about the music," Collins said. "We want them to walk away touched. We want them to feel the emotions that we pour into these songs. And we want them to know that we respect them and we respect the music."
That level of respect, in addition to grueling tour schedules, finessing arrangements and forging a successful career in the music industry does not come without struggle.
"There are lots of challenges every day," Collins said. "Staying grounded, being ourselves, remaining true to who we are helps us meet those challenges every day."
"We're self-produced, we're self-managed, we make every decision on what we sing," he added. "There's all these challenges but we're able to deal with them because we do it together. It sounds kind of hokey, but it's true."
The tenors themselves blend down-home humor, sincerity and their voices' deep musicality to create a unique show that's likely to include both "Oh Danny Boy" and "God Bless the USA." They still watch "America's Got Talent." And unless those cowboy hats are doffed in respect, you most likely won't see them leave their heads.
In other words, the trio is Texan to its core. While they now call different parts of the country home, all have lived in Texas at different points in their lives, and it was Texas that brought them together. Houston was also the site of their pivotal audition for "America's Got Talent," and it's where they now base their career.
"I've spent more time there than other places," Collins said. "I consider myself Texan."
But the Texas Tenors want their music to connect with audiences across the fifty states - and beyond. "We want to make sure that people really feel our love of that music as much as we do. We want that to come across. With the contemporary music too, we want to do that just as well."
In the end, for the Texas Tenors, it's all about inspiration and respect, and the roots of both sentiments.
"I think our inspiration comes from our strong faith," Collins said. "Each one of us has a very strong faith.
"And also from our love of music and our appreciation of music and the audience. And one of the things we do is we respect the music, we respect ourselves and we respect the audience."
So southern you expect "sir" and "ma'am" after every sentence, the Texas Tenors will bring their robust voices of swaggering scale to the Community Arts Center, on a quest to bring their country roots and classical sound to mainstream audiences around the world.