The men from Route 9 celebrate 10 years of singing.

By Emily Gold Boutilier

Route 9, “the cute, nice group that sings a lot of Top 40,” performs at the Mead Art Museum last year.

For Julian Michael ’04, it all started in the fall of 2000, when he tried out for the Zumbyes and didn’t make the group. Luckily, the would-be a cappella singer was soon approached by Shivang Shah ’03 and Jonathan Brooks ’03, who hoped to start a men’s a cappella group of their own.

Meeting in the library of Morris Pratt, the three students and a few others talked about how to create a niche in the already crowded Amherst vocal scene. They decided to position themselves as “the cute, nice group that sings a lot of Top 40,” Michael says. “We wanted to be the kinds of kids people would want to have over to parties—the guys next door, with a poppy kind of vibe.” They also wanted to be funny.

With that, Route 9, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall, was born. The group performed 10 songs at its first big show, in spring 2001. Among the songs was Prince’s “7,” which the men supplemented with choreography from the 1999 video for Britney Spears’ “Oops!... I Did It Again”—earning plenty of laughs.

Now, Michael is a teacher by day and a stand-up comedian in Los Angeles by night, and the group has grown to more than a dozen members who sing contemporary rock, pop and R&B and also do sketch comedy.

Amherst has six a cappella groups in all: the Bluestockings, the DQ, Route 9, the Sabrinas, Terras Irradient and the Zumbyes. Oren Krinsky ’07, who directed Route 9 his senior year and helped put together its CD Blue and Gold, likes it that way: six groups, he says, means plenty of healthy competition.

Photo by Alec Jacobson ’12

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