Southern Gentlemen set vocal traditions, launch album
Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
When one hears the term “a cappella” images of energetic high school students from Glee or small town hopefuls accompanied by Nick Lachey often come to mind.
But when one hears the sweet serenades of Southern Methodist University’s male a cappella group, The Southern Gentlemen, it becomes easy to understand how the craze became so popular.
The Southern Gentlemen, also known as the SoGents, was founded in 2008 and has rapidly gained recognition both on and off campus.
This fall, the men released their debut EP featuring five of their most popular songs, some of which were performed at the Annual Pigskin Revue.
In the past year, the SoGents warmed SMU students’ hearts at the Celebration of Lights, performed an unforgettable Michael Jackson medley at the 2011 talent show and demonstrated SMU’s spirit and support at the George W. Bush Presidential Library groundbreaking.
“A cappella is on the rise,” SoGents Social Media Chair Kellam Witherington said.
The Southern Gentlemen, however, weren’t always in-demand performers at SMU.
When Trey Pratt started the group in 2008, the men acted as supplemental choir singers, hired by local churches to sing at Sunday services. The group integrated into the SMU community by participating in annual rounds of newly initiated sorority member serenades.
Then, members Patrick Probst, Daniel Schneider and Cohagen Wilkinson decided to turn things around. Probst, who graduated last spring, took the reins as president of the SoGents. Wilkinson became business manager and created the the group’s bylaws and constitution to, lay down traditions that he hopes will carry the group through the future.
“One of the most important traditions is uniform,” Wikinson, SoGents current president, said.
Wilkinson hopes that one day the men will all be able to wear jackets with the SoGents’ logo embroidered on them. But for now, the overarching tradition will have to be just having a good time.
“We see ourselves more as entertainers than a music group,” Wilkinson said. “We like to have fun. It’s almost as social as [it is] musical.”
The group’s hard work and organization soon began to pay off. By booking outside gigs and partnering with SMU’s Department of External Affairs, the men managed to raise enough funds to produce their first professional EP produced by Mark Hines of The Vocal Company, a production company that focuses on a cappella groups.
Following post-production, the men signed with another label for distribution — A Cappella Records, which is based out of San Francisco. Upon the album’s release, fans will be able to buy hard copies at SoGents gigs as well as digitally through iTunes. Wilkinson hesitated to share what fan-favorite tracks made the cut.
“Out of all the songs arranged by members themselves, they’re the ones that are the most fun and entertaining and from a production standpoint, sound the best,” he said.
With all the excitement of releasing an album, fans have pressed the group on what is next.
According to Wilkinson, the boys will be aiming for performances at least once a week.
With more time, organization and fundraising, there could even be a trip to the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, a tournament that gives a cappella groups around the world an “opportunity to showcase their talent.”
“Next year, we’ll be ready,” Wilkinson said.
Senior Ryan Cole, a music major who sees the Southern Gntlemen as a chance to branch off from his usual genres, is looking forward to singing his heart out next semester.
“I’m dying to do some musical theater songs,” Cole said. “I think we could do things that you wouldn’t expect, like Brotherhood of Man from How to Succeed in Business.”
Fans can go to The Southern Gentlemen’s Facebook page to download their latest album and stay updated on their upcoming performances.
“I was very impressed when I first saw Southern Gentlemen in action,” first year Samarth Srinivasan said.
“The group is definitely one of the things that attracted me to come to SMU. They add to the overall quality of life at the university.”