Degree: BS’99, Member
Still Singing IU’s Praises
Although still in his mid-30s, Dan Ponce has been able to realize many of his lifelong dreams — with a little help from IU and the Alumni Association.
When he arrived at IU in 1995, Dan brought with him a list of things he wanted to achieve while in college. Already a seasoned musician, singer, and performer, close to the top of his list was this: “Create a nationally renowned a cappella group.”
So, in his sophomore year Dan formed Straight No Chaser by handpicking colleagues from the Singing Hoosiers, the IUAA’s concert show choir. The new ensemble quickly gained a following on campus and came to the attention of then executive director of the IU Alumni Association, Jerry Tardy, BS’62.
“He made the decision to bring Straight No Chaser on as an official Alumni Association group,” says Dan. “He wanted us to be ambassadors for the university at alumni functions around the country.”
It turned out to be a perfect situation for the fledgling performers.
“The Alumni Association is not only one the biggest in the country, its also one of the most loyal. So the IUAA really gets a lot of credit for creating the loyal following [that Straight No Chaser enjoys] at IU, not only among undergraduates, but among alumni as well.”
In 2006, after a 10th-anniversary reunion concert, a video of the group singing “The 12 Days of Christmas” went viral — receiving more than seven million hits in 2007 alone. The attention led to a deal with Atlantic Records.
Now two concurrent versions of Straight No Chaser exist — a professional, touring ensemble and an undergraduate group.
The professional Straight No Chaser continues to record and perform more than 160 shows a year. Even so, the group has never forgotten its connections to its alma mater.
“We always mention our roots to Indiana University wherever we go. It’s really neat to see how just how far the IU Alumni Association spreads around the country, because there are always IU alumni in the audience.”
Dan left SNC to resume a career in TV news broadcasting in Chicago in 2010, but he still uses personal pronouns when talking about the group. SNC is, after all, his “baby.”