Jerome Collins lives with his wife and two children in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the other eight members of his a cappella vocal group Straight No Chaser — which formed in 1996 when everyone was enrolled at Indianan University in Bloomington — have scattered to the wind, raising their own families across the country. But the combo’s unity remains stronger than ever. “A lot of us were from Indiana, yet nobody actually lives there anymore,” he says. “But we always get back together seven days before a tour in the city where it begins, put everything back together in rehearsals, and just hit the ground running.” Ironically, the biggest audience SNC ever played to was over 300,000 at the 2015 Indy 500, crooning the standard “Back Home Again in Indiana.” “And all of it, broadcast worldwide? Now that was a pretty surreal moment,” he says with a contented sigh.
Seasonally speaking, what was your worst New Year’s ever?
The worst might have been last year, when we got done with the show in time, and we got in the car to try to go celebrate, and we actually ended up stuck in traffic on the street, someplace in Seattle. We couldn’t get anywhere, and we had to run into some random bar and run into people on the street and go, “Hey — happy New Year!” Then we just went back to our hotel. It was really sad.
On the flip side, coolest New Year’s ever?
Speaking personally, not just as a group member, one of the coolest — and it’s something I would never do again — was going down to Times Square in college. Never again will I stand out there in that kind of cold, to watch something that drops that quickly. But for the group, it’s usually about performing, and we don’t get done until 10:45 or 11.
But you’re not just a Yuletide phenomenon. Your last 2018 album “One Shot” was pretty ambitious.
The one thing that we do is, we always attend each other’s weddings. And if there’s a basketball game happening at the same time, we’ll all go out to that. So we always keep in touch as a group. We are one big family and we stick together, and we know that on the road, we are each other’s family. So we understand that the holiday season is going to be a hard time for us. But we also understand that we are a Christmas tradition for people. And that’s the job at hand.
You’ve recorded with Elton, Dolly, Seal, Paul McCartney even Kristen Bell. It’s amazing.
Those are some legendary names that we pinch ourselves every day about. We’ve gotten to work with some of the greats.
IF YOU GO
Straight No Chaser: The Open Bar Tour
Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $39 to $69