“It’s fantastic. We take any opportunity we can to come back to Iowa,” Marcus Collins, 45, a native of Washington, Iowa, said recently. “We have family and friends there; my cousin, Garrett, is promoting the show.”
“It’s just nice to perform at the Adler,” Collins said of the group’s debut in the historic downtown venue in a mix of classical, country, Broadway and pop. The Texas Tenors, who celebrated their 10th anniversary last year, played at Bettendorf’s Waterfront Convention Center in 2011 and 2012.
The third-highest selling artist in the history of TV’s “America’s Got Talent,” since appearing on the show in 2009, Collins, John Hagen (a Waverly, Iowa, native) and JC Fisher have released four studio albums, two PBS specials, four DVDs and a children’s book that have earned much recognition, including three Emmy Awards, The Gelett Burgess Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature and the distinction of being Billboard’s 2019 No. 10 Classical Artist in the World.
“It’s going to be a unique show,” Collins said of next week, noting it will include a color guard, at least 35 students from the QCSO Youth Choir, many patriotic songs, a “Les Miserables” medley and some romantic songs, being close to Valentine’s Day.
“We love it, especially if it’s a youth choir, to see them on stage with us, see how excited they are,” Collins, who’s known as “the contemporary tenor,” said. “We have a very positive, uplifting message, very family-friendly.”
Fisher, a Missouri native, is the romantic tenor, and Hagen — a University of Northern Iowa graduate — is a trained opera singer.
“They all have such outstanding voices,” Collins’ cousin Garrett Masseria, of East Moline, said. They’ll also return to Iowa for concerts in Burlington in May, and at UNI in September.
“Marcus, he goes out and he works the audience,” he said. “He has such a sense of humor, he’s so quick witted. He really plays the audience. That’s why they’re so unique. They know their roots; they don’t have this big ego. They talk to people. They’re very accessible to the public.”
“They love our country,” Masseria said of the show’s salute to veterans. “I truly believe, they realize they have to give back. I think it was their dream — the three of them together, small, rural country boys can still make it. If you go, you will leave with a smile on your face, and will leave truly entertained.”
Collins lived in Washington until age 3, when his family moved to Atalissa, and then Florida, he said. He learned how to sing by emulating his favorite artists like Garth Brooks, George Michael and Freddie Mercury before training classically at Drake University in Des Moines.
Collins and Fisher met in 2000 working overseas, Hagen met Fisher later working construction in Kansas City. After rehearsing and performing together only a couple of times, they decided to audition for “America’s Got Talent” in Houston in spring of 2009, and The Texas Tenors were born.
“I just wanted to perform, sing for people, keep doing that as long as I could,” Collins said. “When The Texas Tenors opportunity came up, it was a dream come true. I could make a living and do what I loved to do.”
Their new children’s book, “Moon’s on Fire,” just came out (accompanied by a CD) – the sequel to the popular “Ruckus on the Ranch” — and opens with all the ranch animals getting ready for bed and a dog sees a fiery, orange moon.
“The publisher came to a concert in Holmdel, New Jersey; she saw the show, these guys are cowboys, they’re fun, I wonder if they have stories,” Collins recalled.
“We have a new song with that called ‘The Cowboy Lullaby,’ which is really fun,” Collins said of the new one. “The CD comes with the new song and a page by page reading of the book. It’s a really cute book.”
Tickets for the Wednesday show are $35 to $65, available at Ticketmaster.com or the Adler box office, 136 E. 3rd St.