Founded in 1982 amidst platinum-blond mullets, Jon Bon Jovi, leopard print unitards and economic liberalization in the developing world, The Brown Derbies have since become one of the most well-known collegiate a cappella groups in the country. Their repertoire spans a variety of different genres, ranging from Rock to Barbershop to R&B to Folk, and they always feature incredible background sounds and a good sense of humor.
Since their founding, The Derbies have released 11 studio albums. Their fourth album "Down Time," was first runner-up for Best Male Collegiate Album in the 1995 CARA (Contemporary A Cappella Society). Their fifth album swept all the male collegiate categories winning Best Album, Best Song ("In the House of Stone and Light"), Best Arrangement ("Who Are You?"), and Best Soloist (Joel Begleiter on "The Downeaster Alexa"). Their sixth album, "Jericho," went on to place in all four categories in 2000. "Nice Guys Better Guests" was released in fall 2011, and expect their 12th album (Title TBA) to be released in Spring 2014.
While the Derbies have a long tradition of on-campus performance, they also do national and international tours and in the past seven years have toured London, Paris, Cancun, L.A., Las Vegas, San Francisco, the east and mid-atlantic coasts, Texas, and Florida. They hope to tour internationally again this coming winter (stay tuned for fun fundraising videos and events!). When not visiting their sister a cappella group, the Smith Smiffenpoofs, the Derbies can be found singing at weddings, other colleges, or local events. In 1997, they even sang at the White House for President Bill Clinton.
Though when they perform the Derbies like to keep a light and fun-filled attitude, they have also been known to enjoy a little competition from time to time. In 1996, they were first-runner up in the ICCA New England regional Semifinal and received runner-up for the Best Arrangement for "Who Are You?" In 1997, they went to the ICCA finals in New York, and won Best Solo for "Who Are You?" (you da man, Adam Arian) at semifinals and Best Arrangement for "In the House of Stone and Light" at the Quarterfinals. After a long hiatus from competition, the Derbies re-entered the ICCAs in the winter of 2013, winning the ICCA quarterfinals at Brown University and then going on to compete in semis in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,200 at MIT. (check our Videos page to see our performance!) Additionally, the Derbies performed on network television's "America Sings" hosted by Drew Lachey and were featured on an a cappella segment for "The Early Show" on CBS. In January 2012, the Derbies performed in the London A Cappella Festival with some of the finest a cappella groups in London.
Over the years the Derbies have experienced many changes in repertoire and style, but three things have always remained true. All Derbies sport the obligatory vest and bowler derby, can sing up a storm and riff you off your feet, and will do it with a good sense of humor and a smile.