Gilman grad competing on NBC show 'The Sing-off'

Eric Preston Suan, a graduate of Gilman School and a sophomore at Dartmouth College, said he loves to sing but is majoring in engineering and considers singing more of a hobby.

But Suan, a baritone, who goes by his middle name, is in the hunt for a recording contract and $200,000 as a member of the singing group the Dartmouth Aires, which is competing for the top prize on the NBC-TV show "The Sing-off."

The a capella group sang for the first time this week and is competing weekly in the elimination contest, which was mostly taped this summer at a studio in Culver City, Calif.

Only the finalists will compete live in November. The show airs Mondays at 8 p.m., on WBAL, Channel 21.

Suan, 19, of Homeland, who also sang in a Gilman School a capella group, the Traveling Men, said he can't comment on how he did — or is still doing — on "The Sing-off," because the Dartmouth Aires' 16 members are sworn to secrecy contractually.

He did say, ""I was performing my guts out."

His mother, Pamela Suan said the Dartmouth Aires, who perform nationally, were recruited by NBC to compete in "The Sing-off."

She said her son began playing piano at age 5, but switched to singing in high school and, as a senior, was the leader of the Traveling Men.

He was also well known as captain of Gilman's tennis team. Now, wearing orange and green clothes, he is competing on a national stage with the Aires, who've already cut several albums, including the new "Fresh Aire."

The Aires are among 16 groups, a total of 150 contestants, who are competing on the TV show.

The season premiere of "The Sing-off" was actually Sept. 19, but the Aires were among the groups that made their debuts the second week. Nonetheless, Dartmouth officials threw a premiere party on campus for the first show, even though the Aires weren't performing, Suan said.

Suan said he originally was drawn to acting, but realized, "I wasn't much of an actor and I enjoyed singing more.

"This is something I do more to have fun."

The hardest part, he said, might be keeping the secret of how the Aires fared.

"It's tough. A lot of my friends are very curious," he said.

But if they knew, "it would ruin the surprise for them."

If the Aires win, the $200,000 grand prize would be split 16 ways, or $12,500 per member before taxes.

"To be honest with you, I'd be happy with that," Suan said. He said the group has also talked about using the money to start a singing scholarship for underprivileged youths.

But for now, Suan is looking forward to seeing himself on TV from when the show was taped.

"I'm excited to see what it looks like," he said, explaining that the group members never saw themselves performing.

"We were all just living in the moment."

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