Real Men Sing Collegiate Showcase celebrates male singing in Midwestern colleges

When men sing, it makes a difference not just in their own lives, but in the lives of the audience and the community surrounding them.

That is the vision behind the Great Northern Union Chorus’ Real Men Sing program, a multi-level youth outreach initative that provides choral experiences to young men from middle school through their early 20’s through several annual programs.

On Feb. 26-27, Great Northern Union will begin its 2016 Real Men Sing initiative with its 11th annual Collegiate Showcase. On Friday, GNU’s guest quartet, ‘Shoptimus Prime, will travel to several local Twin Cities high schools, conducting workshops on a cappella and barbershop singing. Then on Saturday, more than 200 students from two midwestern colleges will join ‘Shoptimus Prime and GNU at Bethel University for a day of singing, musical workshops and intergenerational fellowship.

Few members of GNU understand the impact of the chorus’s outreach better than Joe Cossette, GNU’s youth outreach coordinator. Cossette joined GNU after having sung on the collegiate showcase as an undergraduate.

"I was really lucky to have sung with the Iowa State Statesmen during my time in college,” Cossette said. “I wasn't majoring in music, but I knew I wanted singing to stay a part of my life. When I attended the GNU collegiate showcase as part of the Statesmen back in 2011, I was amazed how Great Northern Union was performing at such a high level. I could instantly see myself as a part of something like that after college, and when my career options brought me to the Twin Cities, it was clear I had found my musical outlet.”

The Real Men Sing Collegiate Showcase event will culminate with a concert at Benson Great Hall at 7 p.m. The showcase will feature performances from each group, plus two choral selections for all participants combined.

Joining Great Northern Union on stage at the 2016 Real Men Sing Collegiate Showcase will be the Iowa State University Statesmen, Saint John’s University men’s choir and Shoptimus Prime, the current International Silver Medalist Collegiate Quartet. Grant funding will provide the participating college groups with meals and buses to the event. For more information on the festival and show, including to purchase tickets, visit

The Real Men Sing Collegiate Festival is made possible by a grant from the Barbershop Harmony Society, and by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage funds.