Most people know the frustration of travel delays. Even relatively short delays can be a problem when one has to make a meeting or connect with a plane, train, or bus at a set time. And one can’t help worrying that the wait will be longer than announced. When it’s midwinter and freezing outside, the situation can seem bleak indeed.
This was the scenario at Kansas City Airport, in early 2019 when a trio of professional singers on a delayed flight took it upon themselves to entertain their fellow passengers. After liaising with airport staff, the impromptu appearance was introduced by a departure lounge announcer the trio then performed an uplifting song redolent of warmer climes.
The arrangement of Somewhere Over The Rainbow performed by Gentri is clearly influenced by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole’s iconic version. It’s not just the Ukulele accompaniment, as anyone familiar with IZ’s interpretation will recognise. Nonetheless, at around the 2-minute mark, when the trio sing in unison, they make the song their own. As a YouTube viewer comments: “Wow!!!!! They’re only a trio but sound like there’s a DOZEN of them! Such great projection and clarity from their voices!”
Gentri’s choice of song was apposite as Kansas, where they were delayed, is the home of Dorothy, the character who sang Over The Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Luckily, Gentri’s flight was only an hour behind. In December 2022, a time zone quirk meant that passengers on a flight from LA to Sydney missed New Year’s Eve entirely when they were delayed for 21 hours on a Pacific Island.
To return to Gentri, or the Gentlemen Trio, the group was founded in 2014 after the tenors Brad Robins, Casey Elliott, and Bradley Quinn Lever sang together in a production of Les Miserables. As Brad tells it, “Casey’s wife came home and a couple of us were sitting in the kitchen, and she looked at us and said, ‘Hey, you guys need to form a group.’ And we kind of looked at each other like, ‘What, like a boy band? We’re kind of old to be doing that.’ And she said, ‘No, seriously, you guys could maybe do something a little different and give it a style element.’”
The trio contacted composer, arranger, and producer Stephen Nelson, the unofficial fourth member of the group, and set about crafting a sound they describe as “Cinematic Pop,”. All four members of The Gentlemen Trio are Mormons, that is they follow the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Their faith is reflected in both their songs and their ethos. As expressed by the A&R director of their record company, Desert Rose: “They want to represent to the world how to look and act like a gentleman through their presence and music, as there is a lack of examples in the public eye. They want to show that being a gentleman doesn’t have to be a lost art.”
Gentri’s music consists of hymns and Christmas songs, with a sprinkling of songs that they consider to be uplifting and joyous. They are a very successful group. According to their official web page, they have released four EPs and three full-length LPs. The website continues: “Almost all of GENTRI’s albums have reached #1 on various Billboard charts. The Gents are also known for their award-winning music videos, which have been featured on news outlets around the world including ABC World News, NBC Nightly News and Inside Edition. Their music videos have amassed over 200 million views on YouTube and Facebook.”
If two million views seem like an exaggeration, Gentri’s most popular video on YouTube, Little Drummer Boy has amassed an incredible 164m hits in four years. Some of these views may have to do with the seasonal appeal of the video itself – besides uplifting Christmas themes and locations, the video has a recurring theme of Gentri bringing Christmas inspiration to a wheelchair-bound cancer patient at Park City Hospital, Utah. Even so,164 million YouTube hits is a remarkable achievement.
Questioned on his favorite performance of all time by LDSliving, singer Casey Elliot reiterated the values of The Gentlemen Trio. He stressed that it wasn’t “the shows with packed audiences or amazing venues like the European stages or the Conference Center. Instead, it was a simple hotel ballroom in Salt Lake City with a powerful spirit that touched the hearts of those in attendance. ‘Those are the types of performances that are most meaningful to me’.”
Here is Gentri’s most popular video, Little Drummer Boy: