Late one night last fall, three well-dressed men stood in an empty parking garage in Ogden, Utah, and belted out the national anthem in perfect harmony.
Brad Robins, Casey Elliott and Bradley Quinn Lever make up Gentri, or the Gentleman Trio, a vocal group of three Utah tenors. This spontaneous performance in the parking lot was the birth of what would become their “Park & Bark” YouTube series, in which they sing in empty parking garages in all the cities where they perform. "Park & Bark" is also a term that describes stationary opera singers.
“They park it and they bark it onstage,” Gentri member Robins said. “So it’s a fun play on words and something that initially started out as kind of a joke. Then we thought, 'We should do this everywhere we go.’”
Like “Park & Bark,” Gentri itself is the product of a new idea that stuck. The group formed in 2014 after an offhand suggestion. Now with a recently released album, the trio's music and gentlemanly brand is spreading uplifting messages.
Robins, Elliott and Lever performed together in Hale Centre Theatre's sellout production of "Les Miserables." When the production was over, Elliott’s wife suggested they form a group.
“We decided that, more than just making music, we wanted to create a brand that stood for something more than just ourselves,” Robins said. “That’s kind of how we landed on this whole ‘gentleman’ concept, this whole idea of something that could inspire us to be better individuals.”
The “gentleman concept” informs everything from Gentri’s powerful harmonies to the men’s polished wardrobes.
“We felt like having more of a complete, holistic view of what we’re doing in terms of building a brand that people can get behind,” Elliott said. “The music is obviously the central part to that, but also the message and the ideal that we’re promoting.”
Robins said that while the singers want to be successful as a group, their goals are more about setting a standard than becoming famous. What’s most important to them is uplifting listeners, he said.
“What really is satisfying as a performer is the face-to-face interaction after the show, when you get to look someone in the eye who has clearly been affected and impacted in a very positive way by something that you’ve done out there onstage,” he said.
The tenors refer to their genre as “cinematic pop” that combines their three voices with the dramatic orchestrations of their producer and arranger, Stephen Nelson. Gentri's self-titled first album, released March 31, reached the No. 2 spot on the Billboard "Classical Albums" chart in April.
All three of the vocalists are also entrepreneurs.
“We kind of operate like a small company,” Elliott said. “Each of us has a role and responsibility in the company and our group, and it works surprisingly well. We’ve got things running where we’re kind of a well-oiled machine.”
“We were just so inspired by that (story) and knew that we had to feature her in this video to this song that was all about daring to dream despite your perceived challenges or obstacles,” Robins said.
The video was featured by national news outlets, including ABC World News, and Gentri received a powerful response from viewers.
“We’ve had people from all over the world sending us messages thanking us for that video,” Robins said. “The combination of the music and the lyrics with the visuals had given them hope and strength, which is exactly what we were trying to accomplish.”
Gentri has shows planned at venues throughout the Western United States this year, including its next Utah performance on Saturday, June 6, at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville. The group will release a new single this month and is beginning to work on a new music video. More information on Gentri can be found at Gentrimusic.com.