A decade ago, the quartet called the Singing Senators was on top of the world. In 1998 the group—bass Trent Lott, tenor James Jeffords, baritone John Ashcroft, and lead vocalist Larry Craig—released an album, Let Freedom Sing, after three years of singing at GOP fundraisers. They’d appeared on the Today show and rehearsed harmoniously in Lott’s Senate hideaway.
Recent years haven’t been as kind. Ashcroft lost his Senate seat in 2000, later being appointed attorney general; Jeffords became a pariah in the GOP when he left the party in 2001; Lott was forced from his leadership post in 2002 after comments at a party for Strom Thurmond. Only Craig steered clear of controversy.
Things were looking up for the barbershop singing group earlier this year when three of the four original voices—Craig, Lott, and Ashcroft—reunited for the first time in six years to sing at a June charity fundraiser at the Arlington home of Joe and Bronwyn Vasapoli. Craig, just in from Minneapolis, didn’t tell anyone he’d been arrested the day before following an incident in the airport men’s restroom.
With Craig now a party outcast, the group will probably never again sing an encore of “God Bless America.”
The musical baton in the Senate now falls to Utah’s Orrin Hatch, whose quiet singing career has turned into a lucrative sideline, his religious recordings earning him thousands of dollars. He even has his own Web site, Hatchmusic.com.
This article first appeared in the October 2007 issue of Washingtonian Magazine, available on newsstands.