Naval Academy Glee Club’s Tour Brings Exes Back to Texas

They may not be the songbirds of McKinley High from Fox’s hit show Glee, but the talented men of the United States Naval Academy Glee Club have earned a spot as one of the premier choral groups in the nation—and two Texas Exes had something to do with it.

Aaron Smith, BM ’99, has directed the ensemble—whose repertoire includes everything from Beethoven to James Brown and Coldplay—for six years. Fellow UT alum Commander Rob Calhoun, PhD ’07, Life Member, who once sang in the Naval Academy Glee Club himself, serves as faculty sponsor.

In addition to its large group performances, the ensemble spotlights the talents of three different groups: the Anchormen, who specialize in singing today’s hits; Cleanshave, a barbershop quartet; and the Skivs, who run around in leather jackets, slicked-back hair, and blue jeans, singing the doo-whop songs of the 1950’s.

The group has gained fame by performing on shows like Good Morning America and The Today Show, collaborating with world-renowned symphonies, and touring the world—they’ve sung at St. Peter’s in the Vatican, St. Paul’s in London, and most recently, at First United Methodist Church in Round Rock.

For the two Exes, the glee club’s recent Texas tour, which included two performances in Austin, was like coming home. It was also a great opportunity for the pair to show the group of young men exactly how good Tex-Mex and barbecue can be in the South.

“We had to go to El Arroyo for good Tex-Mex, and PoK-e-Jo’s for barbecue,” Smith says. “The guys had no idea this kind of beef existed. They were blown away by how good it was.”

Adds Calhoun: “They were impressed by how much food there was. They learned quickly that, in Texas, nobody goes home hungry.”

The group serenaded a full house at First United Methodist last week, even adding country into the mix by singing Josh Turner’s “Will You Go With Me?” for their Texan audience.

But the ensemble’s talent isn’t limited to singing—they are also comedians and actors. Even Smith exhibited a wicked sense of humor when introducing songs on stage.

At one point, Smith announced, “Every group has its rebels, its black sheep. These are ours.” The church then exploded in yells and screams, as the Skivs—decked in their ’50s-best—bombarded the stage like a bunch of hooligans, and with heavy New York accents to boot.

“We just have way too much fun,” Smith laughs.

You can hear the United States Naval Academy Glee Club sing on the group’s CD, available on the U.S. Naval Institute website.

Photo courtesy United States Naval Academy.


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