The Brown Derbies a cappella group may lack girls and instruments, but that didn't stop them from drawing national attention this summer on the Gospel Music Channel's new competitive reality show, "America Sings."
Hosted by Drew Lachey, of 1990s boy band 98 Degrees, "America Sings" gave its contestants the opportunity to win $10,000 and offered a platform for everything from church choirs to flash mobs in the United States and Canada.
Though the majority of singing groups featured on the show submitted videos online, the Brown Derbies were contacted by the show's producers, who had come upon a YouTube video of the Derbies helping a visiting lecturer on campus propose to his girlfriend.
In the video, a Power Point presentation on "mayor-centric" academic reform is interrupted when undercover Derbies in the classroom begin a rendition of Weezer's "My Evaline," tailored specially for the woman who then became the lecturer's fiancee.
"It seemed really spontaneous, but actually he'd contacted us eight months before the actual proposal," said Lex Rofes '13. "The entire lecture was just a set up for him to pop the question."
The producers described the video as "uplifting" when they contacted the Derbies to ask them to air it on the show, according to Derbies business manager and bass singer Nate Wardwell '14 . Though the Derbies did not make it past the first stage in the competition, performance requests have been flooding in ever since their clip appeared on television.
"Many of them, unfortunately, we have to turn down outright, because of scheduling conflicts," Wardwell said. "But we've ended up everywhere from bar and bat mitzvahs to a beach in Cancun, and it's great that we've gotten so many opportunities from the show."
But despite their newfound celebrity, the Derbies agreed that their priorities remain the same — the brotherhood and the music.
"What really sets us apart is the joy and the sense of fun that we bring to each performance," Rofes said. "We all love each other, and we love the music. We just want to spread the love."