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Sean Altman Biography

Sean Altman

Born: 1961. Living in: New York City, United States.

Sean Altman is an American musician and songwriter. He is a founder and former lead singer (tenor) of the singing group Rockapella and a pioneer of the modern a cappella movement. He was a member of Rockapella from its inception in 1986 until he left the group in 1997 to launch a solo career.

As a founding member of Rockapella, Altman became remembered for his role on the PBS children's geography game show, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, at the time his band served as the house vocal band and comedy troupe. Altman and his childhood friend, David Yazbek, co-wrote the show's theme song, which is recognized as one of the best known television themes in history. Rockapella released seven albums in Japan and two in the United States during Altman's eleven-year tenure.

As a solo artist, Altman has released three solo albums on the independent Chow Fun Records: seanDEMOnium (1997), alt.mania (2002), and Losing Streak (2005). In 2008, Altman's solo comedy song act Jewmongous released the debut album Taller Than Jesus (Chow Fun Records), about which The Washington Post wrote "Witty and outrageously lampooning ... full of catchy melodies, clever arrangements and lyrics that yield satiric gems."(1) His a cappella group The GrooveBarbers has released two albums: Glory (2005) and Guts (2010), and his defunct comedy song duo What I Like About Jew released Unorthodox (2005) before its breakup in 2006. Altman wrote and recorded "Save The Ocean" and "You Ought To Be Saving Water" (with ex-Rockapella members Barry Carl and Elliott Kerman) for the popular Schoolhouse Rock! series, and has composed songs for the TV shows "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?", "Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego?", "Out Of The Box", "The Book Of Pooh", "The Damn Show", "Brickleberry", Science Mission 101, and the feature film "Teddy P. Brains".

After graduating from Brown together, Altman and fellow High Jinks member Elliott Kerman joined classmates Steve Keyes and David Stix to form a new a cappella group called Rockapella. Rockapella began its career humbly, performing on street corners in New York City while Altman still focused primarily on his Blind Dates work. The group's repertoire consisted of a mix of barbershop arrangements and a cappella renditions of classic doo-wop pieces. As the group grew in experience and Altman honed his vocal arranging skills, they began to focus less on oldies and barbershop, and more on contemporary rock music. A dinner party performance for television personality Kathie Lee Gifford led to the group's 1988 appearance on the ABC TV show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. Rockapella's performance of Altman's signature arrangement of the calypso novelty standard "Zombie Jamboree" caught the eye of producer Gerard Brown, who invited Rockapella to perform on the PBS Great Performances TV special Spike Lee & Company - Do it A Capella, which featured established a cappella acts Take 6, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Rockapella's idols The Persuasions. Elektra Records released Rockapella's live recording of "Zombie Jamboree" as a single, and the group's recording career was launched. Producers of the future PBS Kids game show Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? took note of Rockapella's talents and signed the group to appear as the show's comic troupe and vocal house band. The half-hour game show aired daily for five years, catapulting Rockapella into mid-level television celebrity and making the Rockapella-performed theme song (penned by Sean and his childhood friend David Yazbek) into one of the best known television themes in history. Altman is particularly remembered for his trademark blond braids, which were ceremoniously sheared in the last episode of the fifth and final season by the show's host Greg Lee. The soundtrack to the show features five of Altman's original songs, including the aforementioned theme song and a duet with The Persuasions on "My Home". A sequel album co-produced by Altman, with collaborators Billy Straus and David Yazbek, was entitled Carmen Sandiego: Out Of This World and contained four Altman compositions as well as contributions from the rock bands XTC and They Might Be Giants. While Carmen Sandiego ran in the United States and Canada, Rockapella released seven albums in Japan, on which appeared a total of 14 original songs written by Altman both solo and in collaboration with others. The group also toured Japan briefly during this time.

Member of Rockapella - Tenor - Founder

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