Hilliard Northwest News

Vocal Hilliard family to perform Valentine's Day concert

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Jim Doycheff performs with the Jam Girls, (from left) his daughter, Ramona Richards, his wife, Elaine, and his other daughter, Nicole Sanger. The Doycheff Vocal Jam Valentine's Day concert will be from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at the Makoy Center, 5462 Center St. in Hilliard.
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A local family that performed what appeared to be a one-time concert for charity nearly two decades ago is still singing in 2014.

"It was supposed to be a one-time event, but 17 years later we're still doing it," said Jim Doycheff, 66, the patriarch of the Doycheff Vocal Jam ensemble.

The Doycheff Vocal Jam performs four concerts a year, which includes New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day events, at the Makoy Center in Hilliard.

This year's Valentine's Day concert will be from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at the Makoy Center, 5462 Center St.

Tickets are $20 at the door or $15 in advance by calling 800-290-3566.

Doycheff and his wife, Elaine, and their two daughters, Ramona Richards and Nicole Sanger, are members of the vocal group.

Doycheff's grandson, Brandon Richards, a senior at Bradley High School and Tolles Career and Technical Center, and Alexis Richards, a freshman at Bradley, recently joined the group, bringing its total number to 11, counting other nonfamily members.

"I have fun singing of course, but you know what the greatest thing is? Seeing my daughters and now my grandchildren out there, it's the biggest thrill in the world," said Doycheff, who also owns and operates Doycheff Studio, a salon in the Mill Run area of Columbus that previously was on Main Street in Old Hilliard.

Performing is not a new endeavor for Doycheff.

In 1997 when he scheduled what he thought was a one-time charity concert, he was picking up where he had left off three decades earlier.

"I worked in clubs around Columbus in the 1960s and 1970s playing in cover bands at neighborhood bars," said Doycheff, who grew up in the Hilltop area in west Columbus.

He met Elaine on the music circuit and eventually left the business to start a family, as well as a new business, their salon, where Jim cut and styled hair, and Elaine was a makeup artist.

But music remained a part of their lives. They often participated in karaoke nights and in 1997, Doycheff arranged a concert to benefit the Hilliard Welfare Council.

"I thought it would be fun to perform live again and help a cause," Doycheff said.

The group performed a charity concert again the following year and the effort grew from there.

"We started by playing at Valleydale, then at the Aladdin Shrine(Center) and for the past eight years at the Makoy Center," Doycheff said.

At about the same time, the string of concerts transformed into a commercial venture.

"It got to be too many shows and work for all us, including booking the venues, for it to remain charity," he said.

The group uses pre-recorded music to which they add live vocals.

Doycheff's group in the ensemble is called Hilltop USA, a nod to his childhood stomping ground.

"We perform doo-wop and R&B numbers," he said.

His wife and daughters, the Jam Girls, perform songs made popular by the wave of all-girl groups in the 1960s such as the Shirelles, the Ronettes, the Crystals and the Supremes.

His grandson, Brandon, uses the stage name Big Head, also known as his "blues name."

"He and I do some numbers together such as those by James Brown and Stevie Ray Vaughan," Doycheff said.

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