Ernst & Young has formed a rock band called American PI that is preparing to compete next month in an annual Battle of the Corporate Bands at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
The 12-member band consists of 11 consultants, plus one spouse, in the firm’s advisory unit who provide Performance Improvement services. Hence the PI in the band name, not to mention the Don McLean reference. They came from all across the country and had never performed together until they played onstage in January at a talent show during an E&Y conference in Orlando.
They surprised themselves and sounded much better than they had expected so they decided to try their luck at a regional competition for the Fortune Battle of the Corporate Bands, where they faced off against six other bands in San Francisco. They placed in the top two, and now they are preparing for the finals at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on October 1, where they will be competing against seven other corporate bands from the Fortune 500.
Thomas Cucuzza, Americas finance competency leader at Ernst & Young Advisory Services, plays keyboard in the band. He told me that he didn’t know what to expect when the band originally came together onstage in front of a crowd of over 1,700 people from the firm.
“We arrived not knowing if anybody could play or not,” he said. “It was originally intended to be more of an unstructured jam session. We tried to plan ahead as much as we could, and we showed up and we sounded like a fairly well-rehearsed group. Everybody was pleasantly surprised at the result. Based on that performance, Ernst & Young asked us to represent the firm in the Battle of the Corporate Bands.”
Cucuzza expects to be facing some stiff competition in October at the 11th annual competition, which will be raising funds for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s educational programs. He acknowledged that the other bands in the finals will have accomplished musicians, but none of them will be coming from accounting firms.
Cucuzza played in a band for a short time after graduate school, and some of his fellow band members sing in their church choirs. “It’s a very unique group,” he said. “We have people with influences ranging from gospel to jazz, rock and heavy metal. We play some Allman Brothers and Motown, and sometimes we blend the two. We don’t dress in corporate garb, but we also don’t go over the top with rock garb, and not to the extent of having matching costumes.”
The band will mostly be sticking to rock and roll classics from the 60s and 70s. “It has been interesting to be involved in this band,” said Cucuzza. “We found we have people within the firm who are passionate about music and they didn’t have an opportunity before to play at this level in their professional careers.”
We’ll be rooting for them to win in October.