What started as a few boys who liked to sing turned into a traveling music gig for a group of Franklin Community High School students.

A group of choir students wanted to liven up the school’s annual Christmas concert by doing a rendition of Straight No Chaser’s version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

The audience laughed at their crazy antics. And after a second performance at the school’s talent show, they decided they wanted to keep the fun going.

“After that, we decided we wanted to make it a thing,” Franklin Community High School senior Grayson Schabel said.

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So, the group formed their own a capella group, Rockafellas. Now they are traveling around Franklin, singing at the Artcraft, at Garden Club meetings, elementary school breakfasts and talent shows.

All of the members are in school choirs, including what can be time-demanding show choirs, they said.

Rockafellas offers them a chance to do something new. A few of them pick the songs, such as “Take Me to Church,” by Hozier and what they hope becomes an seasonal classic for the group, “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

“There is nothing similar (at school), to a small a capella group,” Schabel said.

Group members choose what songs they do, who sings what part, where and when they perform and what they will do with the couple of hundreds of dollars they have made. Auditions to be in the group are handled by members. They meet with interested members in a choir room at school and ask them to sing a few strains of “Mary had a Little Lamb,” Franklin Community High School junior Gontri Wilson said.

All of their performances outside of school concerts have been scheduled by groups that heard of them through word of mouth.

After the Christmas choir performance, they were hired to do a breakfast at an elementary school and dinner for the district’s administrative staff.

“Every single time we do a performance, it starts a chain reaction,” Schabel said.

The members decided to hold onto the few hundred dollars they have earned so far. They might treat themselves to a group dinner, pay for rights to perform and learn other songs or fund a student in need’s choir fees. Money is the last thing on their mind when they are performing, group members said.

“We would do it for free,” Schabel said.

Managing their business has been one of the biggest challenges to maintaining the group, members said.

Rehearsals can easily become goof-off sessions if members aren’t disciplined. And the group has found it challenging to plan their own songs. At school, their teacher hands them the music and they are expected to learn it. Rockafellas must think of the group as a whole and what would sound good with the voices that they have.

“You have to research songs and see what is feasible for our group,” Schabel said.

For now, the members are entering show choir season at school, which will limit the time they can spend on their own group. They hope to do their school’s spring talent show and they will almost always do a gig when requested, if all of the members can make it.

“It’s mostly about what the group wants,” Franklin Community High School senior Gary Thompson said.

At a glance

The Rockafellas is a a capella group made up of 13 Franklin Community High School students.

The students are:

  • Hezekiah Johnson
  • Caleb Wertz
  • Grayson Schabel
  • Jesse Ramirez
  • Garret Coner
  • Gary Thompson
  • Jaxson Deno
  • Gontri Wilson
  • Dylan Campbell
  • Kevin Thompson
  • Quentin Noe
  • Tyler Shouse
  • Evan Jewell

They perform around Franklin and at school events.

To book them, e-mail Kmtdgt@gmail.com

Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.