Like a lot of young people who love to sing, Tyler Trepp sang in an a cappella group in college.

And like a lot of kids who want to pursue a career in music, he wasn’t exactly recruited by record labels when he graduated. So he took a job singing on a cruise ship.

It was while entertaining sea-going guests that he got a call from the members of his old group at Indiana University, Straight No Chaser. Somebody in the group had put one of their videos on YouTube, and it caused a sensation, garnering 13 million views. Atlantic Records offered a recording contract, so the group called its former members to come join the fun.

“It was just one of those things where the right person saw it,” said Trepp, 26. “I was singing on cruise ships, some of the other guys were working in banking, one was an assistant district attorney. But this is our passion, so we all came back.”

Since getting the call about four years ago, the 10 members of Straight No Chaser have gone on to substantial commercial success, something rare for an a cappella group. They released “With a Twist” last year, which debuted at No. 29 on the Billboard album chart. They’ve also released a couple of holiday albums that charted high on Billboard.

When the group takes the stage at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium on Tuesday, it will be in the middle of a national tour of civic center and symphony halls. Again, that’s fairly rare for an a cappella group. The group doesn’t write its own music, so it’s essentially a cover band without instruments.

Trepp grew up a fan of pop groups that featured tight harmonies like The Beach Boys. As he got older, he started listening to some of the better-known a cappella groups, such as Rockapella.

Straight No Chaser was started by young men in a choir at Indiana University. The group still exists at IU, but is known as the Indiana University – Straight No Chaser.

A cappella music seems to be riding a new wave of popularity thanks to NBC’s a cappella singing competition show, “The Sing-Off.” In fact, a Portland singer, Michael Odokara-Okigbo of the Dartmouth Aires has been competing on “The Sing-Off” this fall.

Trepp thinks “The Sing-Off” will definitely help turn more people on to a cappella music, both fans and singers.

Odokara-Okigbo has said he didn’t think he could pursue a career in music until he went on “The Sing-Off.” He’s also talked about how difficult a cappella singing can be and how much creativity and teamwork it takes.

Trepp shares those sentiments.

“I like the harmonies, always singing something with another person in the group,” said Trepp. “You can be creative with arrangements in ways you can’t with instruments. Even though we’re a cover band, we do songs in ways you haven’t heard before.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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Twitter: RayRouthier