Sing along to America at Chesapeake College
— The Grammywinning band America, whose best-known tunes were cornerstones of 1970s Top 40 and FM rock radio, will bring its distinct harmonies and classic tunes to the Avalon at Chesapeake College at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9.
Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell (along with former bandmate Dan Peek) met in London in the late ‘60s and quickly harmonized their way to the top of the charts on the strength of their signature song and first No. 1 single, “A Horse with No Name,” in 1972.
The band went on to release a number of chart-topping hits that helped define the era’s soft rock sound, such as “Sister Golden Hair,” “Ventura Highway,” “I Need You,” “Tin Man” and “Lonely People.” America proved its staying power in the ‘80s with the hit ”You Can Do Magic.”
“Every song they play is a massive hit that spurs singalongs for a multigenerational audience,” said Suzy Moore, talent buyer and artistic director at the Avalon. “It is a night of pure joy.”
Working with producers like George Martin, America’s gold and/or platinum albums encompassed everything from effects-laden rockers to oddball medleys to soul-bearing ballads. The band’s musical appeal was rooted in Beckley’s melodic pop-rock and Bunnell’s use of folk-jazz-leaning rhythms, which contrasted with Peek’s more traditional country-rock leanings and personal lyrics.
With Peek’s departure from the band in 1977 (and passing in 2011), shifts in sound and direction, changes in producers and managers, and a renewed dedication to the craft of songwriting helped rocket the renewed America to the upper reaches of the pop charts in 1982 with the smash single “You Can Do Magic.”
The band members’ growth as singers, songwriters and musicians has continued into the present day as illustrated by releases such as 2000’s “Highway” three-disc box set; 2002’s “Holiday Harmony,” an album comprising seasonal classics and live showcases; 2007’s “Here & Now;” and
2015’s “Lost and Found” and “America: Archives Vol. 1.”
America, which has been inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, continues to build a fan base that reaches around the world.
“I think that the ingredients of the America sound are the basic fundamentals that translate internationally,” Beckley said. “A lot of times in Europe and Asia, we see people singing along, and they don’t really know what the words mean. Music is truly the international language.”
Tickets for range from $60 to $80, and are available at the Avalon box office (410822-7299) or online at www. avalontheatre.com.
America will perform Sunday, Dec. 9, at Chesapeake College.