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Tonic Sol-fa biography and history

Tonic Sol-fa has established itself not only as the most in-demand vocal group in the Midwest, but also one of the most successful independent acts in America. In addition to substantial CD sales of its own independent releases (2,000,000 copies sold), the group has toured extensively throughout the US and abroad, building their financial base with a steady list of festivals and private shows that eventually led to numerous sold-out tours of theaters and small arenas.

Tonic Sol-fa began at St. John’s University in Central Minnesota and includes lead vocalist Shaun Johnson, tenor and vocal percussionist, Greg Bannwarth, and bass, Jared Dove. Together the group reached national prominence with appearances on NBC’s Today Show and in Newsweek magazine. Along the way, they shared the stage with a number of recognizable performers including Jay Leno, Jeff Foxworthy and Lonestar, and were recently part of Garrison Keillor’s 30th Anniversary celebration of A Prairie Home Companion.

From the group’s onset, the members have overseen and operated the business of Tonic Sol-fa with a only a small team of driven supporters acting as managers, lawyers, and publicists, and increased revenue from a few thousand dollars in their first year to a multi-million dollar limited liability company today. The group overcame a number of obstacles, including an unspoken apprehension to a cappella acts by individuals in the music industry and having a name that was anything but catchy (a system of naming the notes of the scale, usually do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, developed to teach singing). Still, the group persevered, recording and manufacturing its own records and selling them to a growing legion of fans via the Internet and social networking sites, in the lobby of the theaters where they performed, and through a growing national distribution. One could say they gained their current consumer popularity the old fashioned way; they earned it.

At present, Tonic Sol-fa is in the studio recording their latest album, entitled “Original,” a new recording in a catalog of numerous award-winning DVD and CD projects highlighting three indelible voices.  This outstanding blend has resulted in multiple Contemporary A cappella Recording Awards, NACA (National Association of Collegiate Activities) Entertainer of the Year nominations, considerable national press, and has landed their music on the best-selling seasonal DVD at Wal-Mart, The 12 Dogs of Christmas.

Further Tonic Sol-fa released their third television holiday special in 2010, which aired over 1800 times in forty-seven states and Canada. The new PBS special will be shown through 2015, continuing to spread Tonic Sol-fa's unique sound to an ever-growing audience.

Tonic Sol-fa continues to tour, record, and conscientiously run their business in the only way familiar to them – differently.


Recent highlights:

  • National appearances in Newsweek, Country Weekly and MediaStyle magazines, on NBC’s Today Show, Steve and DC’s nationally syndicated radio program, A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, among others.
  • An Emmy for Original Musical Composition.
  • A third Public Television special which aired over 1,800 times across the United States.
  • Two ‘Independent Grammy’ wins for Best Original Holiday Song and Best Original Pop Song out of 650,000 entries.
  • Outings with Shawn Colvin, Jeff Foxworthy, Lonestar, Montgomery Gentry, Weird Al Yankovic, Bryan White, Neal McCoy, Nester Torres, Bobcat Goldthwait and Jerry Springer, among others.
  • The inclusion of an original TSF composition, “Snõ,” on Wal-Mart’s most popular Christmas video, The 12 Dogs of Christmas.
  • Induction into the Midwest Music Hall of Fame.
  • Corporate collaborations with Bose, Schwan’s, General Mills, Blue Bunny, Tastefully Simple, Herberger’s and the Wenger Corporation.
  • 150 performances annually to a combined audience of 250,000+ in 48 states.
  • Tonic Sol-fa Shaun Johnson, Greg Bannwarth, and Jared Dove
  • Tonic Sol-fa Shaun Johnson, Greg Bannwarth, and Jared Dove


  • Tonic Sol-fa The Earth Stood Still
  • Tonic Sol-fa twentyone
  • Tonic Sol-fa Something for the Rest of Us
  • Tonic Sol-fa March of the Kings
  • Tonic Sol-fa Something Beautiful
  • Tonic Sol-fa Greatest Time of Year
  • Tonic Sol-fa Just One of Those Days
  • Tonic Sol-fa On top of the World
  • Tonic Sol-fa
  • Tonic Sol-fa Boston to Beijing
  • Tonic Sol-fa By Request
  • Tonic Sol-fa Red Vinyl
  • Tonic Sol-fa Sugarue
  • Tonic Sol-fa Style