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Local Group, Prodigy March in Cherry Blossom Parade

Stacy M. Brown | 4/9/2014, 3 p.m.
Reverb (Courtesy of WTOP)

For Steve Langley, Chris Hunter and Troy Edler, there’s little pressure in performing before a television audience and the thousands who are expected to attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

The three men who comprise part of the District-based a capella group Reverb said while the parade will be the singers’ largest audience to date, they’re excited to have been chosen to participate in spring’s most anticipated celebration.

“Locally, this is the biggest event we’ve ever done in terms of crowd capacity and name recognition,” said Langley, who lives on Capitol Hill.

“But, we’re not nervous, we’re just excited.”

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Kelvin Dukes (Courtesy of WTOP)

Reverb, which includes five other members, were among two groups and three solo vocalists chosen to sing at the Saturday, April 12 parade after they blew away the competition with a stirring rendition of Bill Withers’ 1972 hit, “Lean on Me,” during auditions held in January.

“We do everything as a group,” said Edler in explaining Reverb’s success.

The group formed in 1991 and initially allowed just about everyone who wanted to sing to participate. But Langley said that soon changed and a new requirement stipulated that singers must be able to perform well enough to lead the group. Eventually, the new rule capped Reverb’s number to eight singers.

“We do a lot together. We play for seniors, we play for children and we even perform for our families at some events. We take our music seriously,” said Edler, who lives in Montgomery County, Md.

The live audition, which concluded the annual “Sing into Spring” competition, took place at the Hard Rock Café in Northwest and, besides Reverb, the battle to perform at the parade led to the discovery of 8-year-old Kelvin Dukes.

The young crooner received a rousing ovation and an invitation to perform during the annual parade after an age-defying rendition of Anna Kendrick’s, “Cup Song.”

After various contestants presented judges with their best, Kelvin confidently stood before a packed café and delivered lines such as, “I’ve got my ticket for the long way round…,” “When I’m gone…you’re gonna miss me, when I’m gone…”

Cherry Blossom officials said Kelvin simply stole the show.

“It was very hard because you had to stay focused and not mess up on the words,” the youth who lives in Burtonsville, Md., said in a radio interview with WTOP-FM about his performance.

Kelvin said he began singing at the age of three and he’s learning to play guitar. “I do write my own songs, too,” he said.

While Kelvin will be the featured performer for the Youth Choir that’s comprised of hundreds of children from around the country, Reverb will march behind the Washington Informer’s banner at the parade and represent the paper.

The newspaper counts as one of the festival’s media partners.

Presented by Events DC, the 10 a.m. parade will take place regardless of inclement weather, officials said. National Weather Service officials are currently predicting a sunny and 68 degree day for Saturday with a 10 percent chance of rain.

The parade will run along Constitution Avenue in Northwest from 7th to 17th streets.

The parade is free and open to the public, but prime grandstand seats located along Constitution Avenue will be available for purchase, starting at $20.

“There’ll be exciting celebrities participating in the nation’s premiere springtime parade,” Cherry Blossom Festival spokeswoman Danielle Davis said in an email.

American Idol Season 12 winner Candice Glover, Grammy award-winning singer Sheena Easton, celebrated R&B and Gospel singer Regina Belle, pop singer Aaron Carter and other celebrities are also scheduled to perform.

Former Washington Redskins great Darrell Green has been selected as the Grand Marshall of this year’s parade, which will feature vibrant costumes and blossom-inspired floats.

Recognized locally as the official face of District conventions, sports, entertainment and cultural activities, Events DC plans to showcase a float with the theme, “Events in Motion,” which officials said will highlight some of the most unforgettable activities ever staged in Washington.

“Excited. That’s the word for us,” said Hunter, of Reverb who also lives on Capitol Hill. “We’re looking forward to the parade.”