From council to concert hall
Bexley's Keyes to perform with ProMusica
Bexley City Councilman Steve Keyes (left) and Sean Altman, members of The GrooveBarbers quartet, will be featured at the New Year's Eve with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and Friends concert, set for 8:30 p.m. Dec. 31 at the Great Southern Theatre in downtown Columbus, 21 E. Main St.
Bexley City Councilman Steve Keyes manages to stay busy.
When he isn't working as an executive with Nationwide Mutual Insurance or drafting legislation for Bexley City Council, Keyes spends his free time pursuing his first love -- music.
"I am an attorney by training, a human resources executive by day, a Bexley City Council member by night, and a singer at every opportunity," Keyes said. "But most of all, the world's luckiest husband and father every single day."
On New Year's Eve, instead of enjoying a party with his wife, Keyes will be providing entertainment for a big one -- ProMusica's end of the year event at the Great Southern Theatre.
Keyes and Sean Altman are founding members and current tenor lead vocalists of the nationally renowned vocal quartet The GrooveBarbers, as well as founding former members of the pioneering a cappella group Rockapella.
Featured as the co-lead singers of quartet "The Astelins" in the national television advertising campaign for Astelin Nasal Spray, Altman and Keyes have also teamed up with their fellow GrooveBarbers in recent appearances with pop legend Marshall Crenshaw in New York City, with a cappella icon Jerry Lawson of the Persuasions in Boston's Symphony Hall, and as headliner hosts for "Columbus A Cappella Fest!" at Columbus' historic Lincoln Theatre.
Over the years, they have performed together in such venues as Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden, in TV appearances including Entertainment Tonight, Regis & Kathie Lee, and as featured soloists in Spike Lee's Do It A Cappella documentary.
In their special New Year's Eve performance with ProMusica and the High Street Stompers, Keyes and Altman will share their duet harmonies as they bring together music of the Everly Brothers, The Beatles, and more.
Keyes is a premier high tenor and rock/blues soloist of the a cappella scene.
He has been a featured soloist with the New Choral Society of Central Westchester, and with Capital University's Choral Union. Keyes settled in Bexley a decade ago with his wife and daughter, and is co-founder and host of the annual Columbus A Cappella Fest! He was elected to Bexley City Council in 2011,
Altman co-founded Rockapella and led the pioneering vocal group through its heyday years on the Emmy-winning PBS-TV series Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? -- for which Altman wrote the theme song. His latest ventures are his original comedy song act Jewmongous and The GrooveBarbers, an a cappella group of former Rockapella members.
"We met at Brown University in the 1980s, in a vocal group called the High Jinx," Keyes said. "That's pretty much what we did back then -- engage in high jinks. Then a few years later in New York City, with two other Brown pals (Charlie Evett and Elliott Kerman), we formed Rockapella -- really the pioneering group in modern a cappella singing."
"After Sean and Charlie and I graduated from Rockapella in later years, we formed our successor group, now known as The GrooveBarbers, with another New York friend and outstanding singer/musician, Kevin Weist -- and that group has now been together since the late 1990s.
Keyes and Altman have done a number of duo performances over the years, so when ProMusica Music Director Tim Russell asked whether something could come together in a joint performance with some of the GrooveBarbers and ProMusica, it was natural fit.
"Sean and I will do some duets, some tunes with the amazing High Street Stompers, and then several full orchestra numbers with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, which by the way I think is truly the premier showcase performing arts organization in our region," Keyes said. "It is a thrill to be performing with them."
Keyes said he has had "some voice training at Brown University, and some great choral directors over the years" but mostly, he learned from "singing rock-n-roll in the shower since high school."
Keyes calls Altman "an incredibly talented singer-songwriter." He is married to acclaimed opera singer Inna Dukach.
While Keyes recently turned 50, he insists "I feel 25, and that's what counts, right?"
He said his singing influences are varied.
"I'm probably more Led Zeppelin and Franki Valli," he said. "Sean's probably more The Beatles and Frank Sinatra, but together we also share a Mills Brothers close harmony swing vibe."