Late afternoon or early evening channel-hoppers may find themselves lingering on Channel 7 or 11 when the catchy song "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" is sung by a hip New York City a cappella group called "Rockapella."
Kids and teens love the PBS geography detective/game show where young contestants try to track the elusive criminal Carmen Sandiego. The show opens with Rockapella singing:"Well she sneaks around the world from Kiev to Carolina,
She's a sticky-fingered filcher from Berlin down to Belize,
She'll take you for a ride on a slow boat to China,
Tell me where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?"
In a conference call from New York, Rockapella tenor Sean Altman and bass Barry Carl told the Deseret News how their music became a hit with the younger set. "We've been together about 51/2 years," said Altman. "The producer of `Carmen Sandiego' heard us on the "Spike Lee & Co.: Do It A Capella" and thought our sound could translate to young people. The success was unexpected. We always thought our audience would be what it has been - adults in their 20s through early 40s," he said.
Rockapella's five-octave range music is a huge hit in Japan. "We're getting global," Barry Carl said. "We'll be headed there soon for our third trip this year. In fact, we're in the studio right now on the first day of recording a Christmas album that will be released in Japan." "Wait till they hear our version of `White Christmas,' " said Altman. "The Japanese love holidays and giving presents so they really love Christmas."
Rockapella fans will be counting the days until November when "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? - The Album" is released. Concertgoers will get a preview of the album at the Scera Shell on Monday (see box). While the album has songs on it that the fans of Carmen Sandiego will enjoy, like "Capital," it's an adult album as well. "Capital" cleverly lists the capitals of the states, but there is some wry satire in it as well. "The song is mischievous. That's one of the elements that keeps the music from being juvenile. We don't wish to talk down to teens - they're more sophisticated. The song is neither political nor harmful - it's just fun. I think adults will kind of nudge each other and wink," said Carl.
Rockapella's co-producer, David Yazbek, wrote a song called "Violin." Said Altman, "It has an Irish lilt to it. We're trying many different styles. There are seven different genres of music on the album."
The upbeat music of Rockapella is a trademark as much as the a capella format. "That's our contribution to the greater good. After our concerts, people usually leave smiling," Altman said.
Rockapella in concert
When: Monday, Sept. 7, 8:15 p.m.
Where: Scera Shell outdoor theater, Orem.
Cost: Tickets $7 available at the Scera Shell
Sponsored by: KBYU-TV, Family City USA and Magic 107.5 FM radio.
Tip: Seating is on the lawn - bring blankets to sit on. Lawn chairs are allowed but must be placed toward the back. Shorter lawn chairs with no restrictions can be rented for $1 each.