This weekend at the Indianapolis 500, a capella group Straight No Chaser took over Jim Nabors’ traditional role in kicking things off with the song “Back Home Again in Indiana.” Though the group is definitely a different style than what attendees had heard for decades from Nabors, it sounds as if things went well.
Jim Nabors had performed the opening song for the Indy 500 for most of the previous 40-plus years. However, as was previously reported by the Inquisitr, Nabors decided to retire last year. Those are big shoes to fill, but the event chose Straight No Chaser as Nabors’ replacement.
As Indianapolis Monthly shares, the a capella group is from Indiana University, so they have deep ties to the state. According to one of the founding group members, Dave Roberts, they had no intention of trying to do exactly what Nabors had done with the song over the years.
The group notes that Nabors has been “larger than life,” and the event is one with a lot of memories and meaning for them. Roberts said that while the group wasn’t necessarily nervous, they did know that their performance was going to be heavily scrutinized. It is definitely difficult to step into the gig that is so well-known for one prior singer performing one specific song.
Straight No Chaser’s take on the classic Nabors-performed song at the Indy 500 won’t be the first time they’ve performed the song, though. They performed it at a prior event during their college days, but of course this is on a much grander scale and stage. How did the group approach their performance for the Indy 500?
It seems that the group went a mostly traditional a capella route, honoring the tradition of the song and event. Of course, Straight No Chaser had to add their own touches to it and their fans surely approved. How did the performance go over with the attendees as a whole?
It sounds as if fans of the group loved it, and while Nabors was certainly missed, most applaud the group’s take on the traditional performance. According to the Associated Press, via ABC News, the group got quite a bit of enthusiastic applause after their version of “Back Home Again in Indiana.”
The 10-man group didn’t approach this gig lightly. Straight No Chaser practiced at least 100 times, notes group member Seggie Isho. They didn’t connect with Nabors to get his advice, but they had an image of what they think Nabors would have told them to do. They feel certain that the 84-year-old would push them to make Indiana proud, and it seems they did indeed.
It seems clear that Jim Nabors will never be completely replaced in the eyes of many Indy 500 fans. However, it sounds as if having Straight No Chaser as Nabors’ replacement was a good choice by organizers and they were able to give a performance that set the right tone for the event.
[Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images]