Homegrown harmonies

National Sing-Off Live Tour in Troy

By Tara Pettit

Photo: Street Corner Symphony will perform at Hobart Arena as part of The Sing-Off Live Tour on March 21

NBC’s hit TV series, The Sing-Off, which showcases several a cappella singing groups competing for the first place prize that includes a Sony Music recording contract, is making its way across all 50 states in a national tour that will stop in Troy. The tour, featuring winning and finalist groups from various seasons of the show, will bring with it one of Dayton’s own original talents.

Kurt Zimmerman, a native of Kettering but born in Troy, is a graduate of Kettering Fairmont High School and member of one of the winning Sing-Off show a cappella groups, Street Corner Symphony, a group that got its start by winning the runner-up place in season two of the show.

“It’s totally fun to perform in Dayton and around the Kettering area in particular because there’s such a strong a cappella community there and it seems they really appreciate our efforts to bring what we can to the a cappella world,” Zimmerman said. “It’s going to be really fun to go back to Dayton.”

Zimmerman jumpstarted his a cappella career at age 13 with his early involvement in Dayton area a cappella singing groups, including one of the most renowned, The Eleventh Hour, a project of Kettering Fairmont High School’s music department that was also a featured performing group on season two of The Sing-Off.

Zimmerman said it was mostly from the exposure he received through his involvement with Eleventh Hour, as well as through the first-rate training and dedication to quality that were fundamental to the group’s mission, that gave him the opportunity in Dayton to pursue his musical dreams.

“They take making quality music seriously,” Zimmerman said, “and from there I learned a lot about what it takes to do it professionally and create a product that people really like.”

From his involvement in Eleventh Hour, Zimmerman met members of Street Corner Symphony during both groups’ debut on The Sing-Off and launched his professional singing career shortly thereafter, when he joined the variety-style group that performs a wide range of songs from gospel to barbershop to rock and pop.

This will be Street Corner Symphony’s second time touring with The Sing-Off crew, a venture that is both highly enjoyable and good for exposure, according to Jeremy Lister, the tenor member of the group.

“What I’ve enjoyed most so far is the camaraderie formed on the tour,” Lister said. “From the shows we have put on to the people we have been dealing with, we have all just hit it off and have been having a good time. There are no egos involved, we just get to enjoy singing with each other and having fun on the road.”

In this year’s tour, Street Corner Symphony will engage in some collaborative efforts with other groups on the tour in the opening and ending numbers, as well as performing a variety of songs from their own collection ranging from classic rock to modern pop. Their performance will include “something for every age group,” Lister said, including some hits from the televised Sing-Off performances and a high-energy song called “Uptown Funk.” Lister informs, at some point in the show there will even be a beat box battle, which will showcase Dayton’s Zimmerman.

“I’m excited to be going back and performing for Dayton,” Lister said. “I hope everyone comes out.”

As excited as Zimmerman is to return to his home stage, he acknowledges he is on a journey that has taken him to many other cities across the country. While that journey began in Dayton, he was quickly transported to Nashville, and now lives on the road while touring, which allows him to fully pursue his dream while also allowing him to travel with a group of people he has grown close to.

“I think a lot of what I do and a lot of what the guys do now for a living started with The Sing-Off tour, as well as a lot of the beginnings of our networks and who we can now call our musical family from the tour,” Zimmerman said. “It’s really, really fun to get to move back around and have some fun with some of the Sing-Off people again because we just have so much in common and we understand so much about what it is that we all do with a cappella.”

Recognizing there are many other young people in the Dayton area trying to pursue their musical dreams much like he was at one time, Zimmerman encourages those with career passions of any kind to continually refine their skills and talents toward mastery, keeping in mind what it is that appeals to the general public and networking with the right people.

People will often think that because they live in a smaller or mid-level city, there are no opportunities to grow or nobody worth knowing to get them noticed in their talent, Zimmerman further adds, but a spot can always be carved out for a particular person with something that people in that exact area want around.

“The ticket to making knowing the right people easy is working on your skill until it is something that people can’t ignore,” Zimmerman said. “It should come before anything else … it is a great step in the right direction and to getting to where you want to be.”

The Sing-Off Live Tour will be in Troy Saturday, March 21 at 8 p.m. in Hobart Arena, 255 Adams St. in Troy. For tickets and more information, please visit hobartarena.ticketforce.com or singofftour.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Tara Pettit at TaraPettit@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Tara Pettit is a regional journalist and communications specialist with a focus on the arts, social/environmental justice issues, and community activism. She is passionate about cultivating intentional community and engaging in collaborative creative projects that make healthy community possible. Reach her at TaraPettit@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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