February 24, 2013
Wichita Eagle Correspondent
They wowed millions of Americans when they appeared on “America’s got Talent” in 2009. Now they’re dazzling audience members nationwide with their vibrato and operatic virtuoso.
On Thursday, The Texas Tenors will hit the Wichita stage with a mix of country, opera and Broadway tunes. Raised in the Midwest, the three members will perform songs from John Denver, Giacomo Puccini and Andrew Lloyd Weber. They’ll be backed up in style by the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and its conductor, Daniel Hege.
“We are all classically trained,” Texas Tenor Marcus Collins said. “We want to sing music that inspires people.”
JC Fisher graduated from the opera program at Wichita State University. While earning his degree, he appeared in “The Magic Flute,” “Don Pasquale” and “La Boheme.”
“It’s neat to come back to where you are from,” Fisher said. “It’s amazing that we have this opportunity.”
Fisher applauded the professors at WSU who helped him hone in on his talent, especially Marie Allyn King, director of opera at WSU, who he said helped push him to believe that he could make a living as a performer.
“Marie taught us to branch out and take chances,” Fisher said.
King not only pushed the students to do their best, he said, but to look at opportunities that matched their talents.
“JC did most of the leads in our operas,” King said. “He’s a terrific singer and a very engaging and personable young man.”
King has had the opportunity to hear the Texas Tenors and said she was impressed by their range.
“They are all real good singers,” she said. “They do a real eclectic range.”
After college, Fisher traveled the globe and sang in more than 50 countries, singing opera, country and gospel.
“I love country,” Fisher said. “I always thought it was neat to combine country and opera.”
Fisher’s fellow tenors, Collins and John Hagen, also have a passion for opera. Hagen sang at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. He’s played Billy Bigelow in “Carousel,” Che in “Evita” and the title role in the opera “Otello.”
“I kind of get the best of all worlds,” Hagen said. “I tell people we’re living the dream; don’t wake us up.”
These three friends decide as a group what songs they are going to sing, what performances they are going to accept and when they are going to record each album.
“I met JC while working on a cruise ship 13 years ago, and we became the best of friends,” Collins said. “About 3 1/2 years ago, JC had the vision to put us all together and audition for ‘America’s Got Talent.’ ”
Collins also appeared in film and TV in “P.S. I Love You,” “30 Rock” and “Sex and the City” and had recurring roles on “One Life to Live” and “As the World Turns.”
Each tenor brings a different background to the group, but all three bring in their love of music — especially opera.
“We’re all tenors, but we all have very different colors to our voices,” Hagen said. “We have very different timbres.”
Hagen explained that JC’s voice is lyrical while his has a large volume.
The group just finished recording two CDs, “You Should Dream” and a Christmas album. Some of the music on their albums is original. A music schoolteacher in Atlanta sent them “You Should Dream.”
“She thought of us and sent it,” Marcus said. “We loved it so much, we made it our title song.”
Dana Lamb’s song symbolizes the Texas Tenors’ message of inspiration.
The Tenors enjoy giving back in other ways, too. They help out with Homes for Our Troops, Child Fund International and The Mission Project. All three had fathers who were veterans.
In honor of Presidents Day, the group released their single, “God Bless the USA” from their album “You Should Dream.”
“We love to inspire the audience,” Fisher said. “We hope that the music moves them as much as it moves us.”