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By Chanz rolls
five members of By Chanz, a teen
female vocal group, sit in a circle on the carpeted floor of a three-story
townhouse in Ashburn, VA and repeatedly toss a pair of shiny, ivory-white dice
into the center. Hoping that luck
and even providence are on their side, it's hard for them to fully comprehend
the odds of enjoying a successful career in the music industry.
They know their chances of landing a recording contract are probably
close to one in a million (about the same as throwing a pair of
"fives" four times in a row), but this has not deterred them from
pressing onward to take the biggest chance of their young lives.
By Chanz is preparing to
approach several major record labels early next year in hopes of landing a
recording contract of their own.
teen vocal group sings pop music
laced with a tinge of R&B and integrates rap music into their live
performances, which they characterize as Pop-Hop.
The vocal group consists of:
Kelley Hagood, 17, a James A.
Bland Music Scholarship Competition Silver Medalist, and founding member of By
Chanz, is the group's songwriter.
Jaclyn Hamlin, 15, is an
actress and singer who has already recorded professionally in Asia.
Sarah Luhrs, 14, earned all
county/district chorus awards and has played piano for seven years.
Vanessa Vosteen, 14, also an
actress and singer, starred in the Growing Stage (a local musical theater group)
production's of A Midsummer
Night's Dream and The Who's Tommy.
Lauren Smallwood, 13, who has
performed in her school chorus and church choir for the last three years, has
set a goal to become the youngest white, female rap artist ever.
products of Virginia's public schools, Hagood, Hamlin, and Luhrs attend Broad
Run High School in Ashburn, Vosteen attends Loudoun Valley High School in
Purcellville, and Smallwood attends Blue Ridge Middle School in Leesburg.
vocal group originally formed during the summer of 1999 as a foursome and then
quickly winnowed down to a duo for the first year.
Last month the group conducted auditions in Ashburn to add new members so
they could integrate four part harmonies into their musical repertoire.
its first single LAX
Girl-LAX World, at Pearl Studios in Columbia, Maryland in November 1999
with the help of independent producer, Ernesto Phillips, president of Longevity
Records. Phillips had already
discovered other talented singers such as Toni Braxton and Kimberly Scott, who
he helped snag recording contracts with Arista and Columbia Records
this past spring and summer singing LAX Girl and other contemporary pop songs for thousands of teen
girls at lacrosse tournaments throughout Maryland and Virginia.
Baltimore Sun featured the vocal group in an article during June, 2000.
prepare themselves to snag a recording contract, By
Chanz is concurrently strengthening their vocal abilities, perfecting their
live performances, writing or finding great songs, and recording songs that have
hit potential. Every rehearsal,
live performance, and recording session is aligned to position them to perform
at a showcase event either in New York City, or here locally for record label
executives who they hope will scramble to sign the group after seeing them
is meeting with By Chanz along with
their vocal coach, Renee Diggs, a former member of the 1980s R&B group, Star
Point, who recorded seven albums and had a gold record to help the teen
singers strengthen their vocal techniques, select their repertoire, and improve
the production of their sound recordings.
several live performances scheduled later this year and into 2001.
On June 2-3, 2001 they have been invited to perform at LAX Splash 01, the
largest lacrosse tournament in the world, with over 4,000 players.
They will also perform at the Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival on
April 21 and 22, 2001 to crowds in excess of 30,000 people.
They have already submitted showcase applications to perform at Music
Millennium 2001 in Pittsburgh, PA in February and at The Philadelphia Music
Conference during June 13-16, 2001.
month, By Chanz is scheduled to give
two local performances on Friday and Saturday December 8-9, 2000 at The Planet Club, a teen
night club in Chantilly, VA for teens aged 11-20. Both nights after the show, By
Chanz will autograph and distribute free publicity photographs for all the
teens who tell the club's doormen that they came to see By Chanz perform. The
group is also (tentatively) scheduled to perform at First Night Leesburg to ring
in the new year.
more information about The Planet Club, and By
Chanz's upcoming performances, call the club's marketing director, Megan
Lanterman, at (703) 698-8223.
addition to their first single, By Chanz
has recorded two love songs penned by Kelley Hagood. The first, a catchy upbeat pop/R&B song, Beat of Your Heart,
characterizes a young girl's ambivalence about a romantic relationship and
her yearning for one that is more substantive.
The second song, I Can't Breathe,
is a ballad about the feelings of desperation a teen girl has when the
relationship with her boyfriend is going through those inevitable ups and downs.
By Chanz will add two and four
part harmonies to these songs to improve the production and ready them for a CD
release in the summer of 2001. Todd
Wright, the exceptionally talented pop singer-songwriter and member of The
Eccentrics wrote a big ballad for the group along the lines of Jessica Simpson's
Wanna Love You Forever. Later
this month By Chanz will collaborate with Wright while preparing a demo of the
song in his home recording studio. Wright said, "the song is about a
relationship 'of the moment' that a young teen girl just wants to enjoy without
thinking about making any long term commitment." It has clever lyrics and a moving melody and will give By
Chanz the opportunity to demonstrate their vocal talent.
week, By Chanz worked with Columbia,
MD songwriter/producer, Dennis Balin and recorded an a cappella pop/R&B
version of the national anthem that their manager will send to all the national
sports teams in the DC metro area in hopes of getting the teen singers on
television to help create a buzz about the group. Balin said, "the members of By Chanz have incredible voices, write their own songs, and have the
looks and personalities to succeed in this business."
He is collaborating with the girls on a new song and has set his own goal
of penning a number one hit that will appear on the Billboard
Hagood, the group's manager and father of one of the vocalists, suggested the
dice-rolling exercise during one of the group's recording sessions to help them
understand how many bands are out there performing, recording, and perfecting
their craft in pursuit of the same elusive goal of landing a record contract
with a major label. Although Hagood
feared there was some risk of the girls becoming discouraged by the long odds,
he assured them that they are far more talented than most of those other bands
seeking to get signed. "We're
focusing all of our effort like the point of a spear to penetrate the soft
underbelly of a giant record label and plan to bag ourselves a record
deal," said Hagood. He also
maintains that most of these other bands that By
Chanz will be competing against, have not done their homework, have little
sense of direction, and in most cases are proceeding sporadically without any
representation by an established business manager, which is Hagood's profession.
He said, "By Chanz will
definitely have better than a 50-50 chance, because they are methodically laying
a foundation and building upon it floor by floor.
Hagood says the group will be ready to submit a demonstration tape and
press kit to all the major labels next spring and is actively working to promote
a showcase of the best local musical talent here in Northern Virginia to lure
the record execs here to see them perform live on their own turf.
He also said, "By Chanz
is working smarter, and not harder to
swing the odds in their favor." Hagood
and By Chanz understand that in many
ways this whole endeavor is still like a roll of the dice, but he hopes that
their hard work will help them accomplish their goals.