- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

The boy band 'N Sync may be the talk of Teen People magazine this month, but the local teen pop group By Chanz is hoping to give the boys a run for their money. The all-female trio is one of five finalists for the magazine's Five Live Search, which could propel the trio from an unsigned local act to the next big thing.

By Chanz performs from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at Countryside Parkway, 6 Pidgeon Hill Drive, Sterling, as part of the free Countryside Concert series.

The current incarnation of the group dates to October 2000, but its roots lie in the determination of Kelley Hagood, 18, of Ashburn, Va., to break into the music business. With the support of her parents (her father, Wes Hagood, is the group's manager), Miss Hagood acted in plays in elementary and middle school and took voice lessons in high school before the idea to form a band took hold.

The group went through several lineups (from a duo to a quintet to a trio) before settling into the current roster of Miss Hagood, Sarah Luhrs, 15, and Lauren Smallwood, 14. Although the girls are still young, their voices have a maturity that's reminiscent of some other high-profile female acts, such as Destiny's Child and TLC.

The girls usually sing to a prerecorded instrumental track while working with a choreographer to perfect their dance moves. The new version of By Chanz was together less than two months before its first performance at a teen club in Chantilly in December 2000.

"It was kind of nerve-racking for me because I had never been in front of a live audience before," Miss Luhrs says of her initial stage fright. Nearly a year in the local music business has changed her outlook, though.

"Before I was [thinking] I want to be a doctor, but now I'm not so sure," Miss Luhrs says with a smile.

The group has a five-song demo CD in circulation now and plans to continue to stay together as Miss Hagood prepares to go to school at Middle State Tennessee University this fall to study the business end of the record industry.

"We just want to keep doing more songs and keep performing as much as possible," Miss Hagood says.

The October issue of Teen People (on newsstands Sept. 7) will let readers in on the contest and allow them to hear By Chanz's songs online. The top three bands will be flown to New York for a battle of the bands, and the winning group will get the chance to play at a future televised Teen People event.

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