The Clef Hangers, hailing from the University of North Carolina, have become something of a legend in the a cappella world. It could be that one of their most esteemed alumni – Anoop Desai – became a top-10 finalist on American Idol. It could be their consistently impressive, award-winning, critically acclaimed albums. Or it could be their undeniable on-stage charisma. Whatever it is, these gentlemen have come together as one of the most celebrated all-male groups in the nation for much of their existence (which began in the fall of 1977).
And now, three of their albums (“Twist,” “Time Out” and “Facing Clarence“) have been released for digital download! All three albums have either won or been nominated as the Best Male Collegiate Album for their respective years in the Contemporary A cappella Recording Awards.
“Twist” (2009) features a pulse-pounding rendition of Robert Randolph and the Family Band’s “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That,” as well as Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss” and Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” (both of which feature Desai). “Twist” is also a personal and emotional work for the group, as it is dedicated to the memory of former UNC Student Body President Eve Marie Carson (described by the group as “one of the Clefs’ greatest fans and the epitome of the Carolina Way”).
“Time Out,” (2007) for lack of a more eloquent way to phrase it, is a subtly yet incredibly sexy album (case in point, their take on Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good” was the award-winning track of the album). It’s also a finely-tuned vehicle for the Clefhanger’s break-out star, who is featured on three tracks – Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” Keane’s “She Has No Time” (a particularly stunning and stirring track)” and Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You.” T.I.’s “What You Know” and Muse’s “Time is Running Out” serve as bookends to this 13-track offering that will leave hearts racing for all the right reasons.
“Facing Clarence” (2005) opens with “Crazy Train” (a mash-up of the Ozzy Ozbourne original, and Trick Daddy’s “Let’s Go,” which samples the iconic guitar riff of Ozbourne’s rock anthem) and ends out with Outkast’s “The Way You Move.” In between are ten tracks that vacillate between aca-classics (from Stevie Wonder to Coldplay) and daring repertoire choices (Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit“). You can also hear more of Desai on this album, singing Maroon 5′s “She Will Be Loved” and Boyz II Men’s “Can You Stand the Rain.” Also on “Facing Clarence” is the group’s most recent recorded version of “Carolina in My Mind,” a signature song for the group, as well as a favorite on their Chapel Hill campus.
All three albums are widely celebrated in the a cappella community (and on esteemed a cappella compilations, including the Best of College A cappella), and would make for dynamic additions to your music library.
The Clef Hangers have released 16 albums total, most of which have received significant recognition (in the form of nominations and awards alike) from the Contemporary A cappella Recording Awards, and high praise from the Recorded A cappella Review Board (including everything that is available for purchase online). They have brought their high-octane, engaging live show to audiences all over campus, and as far and wide as Jamaica, New York, Greece, Italy, Los Angeles, and many other locations across the globe. With a resume like that, it is easy to see how they have attained considerable recognition and notoriety throughout the a cappella nation.