A cappella group Straight No Chaser to create song for IU bicentennial

By Michael Reschke

Add Indiana University to the list of entities that will commemorate a 200th anniversary with song. Straight No Chaser, an a cappella group made up of IU alumni, has been commissioned to compose a song celebrating IU's bicentennial in 2020.

Seggie Isho, a member of Straight No Chaser, announced the plan Saturday at an IU Alumni Association event in Bloomington.

"Ultimately, this is such an honor and thrill for us," Isho said.

The idea for the song came from IU's Office of the Bicentennial, said Chuck Carney, university spokesman.

Members of the office have asked Straight No Chaser to incorporate themes of friendship and coming home to campus in the song. However, it will be focused on the university as a whole, not just the flagship campus in Bloomington. The plan is to create something that will be around after the celebrations planned for the 2019-20 school year are over.

Straight No Chaser is primarily known as a cover group, but members are excited for the challenge of writing an original song, Isho said. They'll have plenty of opportunities to collaborate beginning next month, when the group begins a six-month tour that will take them across the U.S. and to Europe.

"That's a positive for us," Isho said. "When we're not on the road, we're scattered across the country."

Carney couldn't say whether other universities have commissioned songs to celebrate anniversaries, but both the state of Indiana and the city of Bloomington have. The city sought submissions from the community and offered a prize of up to $5,000 for the winner. Straight No Chaser will not be paid to create IU's bicentennial song, Carney said.

The group is hoping to have a draft of the song by early 2019 and a final version later that summer. Exactly when and where people will hear the song has not yet been determined, but Isho said the group is happy to roll it out in whatever way the university sees fit.

"It's very humbling and it's going to be a great experience," he said. "I hope we deliver a song everyone will be happy with and really enjoy."

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