About the Group

Short group bio

The Chromatics are a high-energy vocal band on a mission to delight audiences with a full spectrum of songs about science, technology, life, and their intersections. They have taken their astronomically-correct a cappella songs, a project called AstroCappella, from Palm Springs to Orlando and from Las Vegas to New York, and their CD has flown in space (no kidding!). Back down on earth they have captivated young and old alike at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, the National Air & Space Museum, the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweepstakes, and numerous science fiction conventions, First Nights, festivals, concert series, and private parties. Their CDs have been nominated for multiple Washington Area Music Awards (WAMMIES) and Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs). After nearly 20 years together they are a mainstay of the local music scene and still bring a youthful exuberance to their fun-filled, colorful, and scientifically accurate performances.

Singer bios

Padi As Music Director, Padi Boyd keeps the Chromatics on the same page, and is the sunny center around which the rest of the group orbits. (In a former life she must have been a cat herder of some renown.) She may lose her car keys, her pitch pipe, her wallet, and - once only - a few crucial parts of the Chromie sound system, but never her enthusiasm. She writes many of our more socially-aware, astronomically-correct and tunefully-original songs, and writes them frighteningly fast. She should perhaps design dance routines for the Backstreet Boys, because the Chromatics have a hard time keeping up with her - must be all the gymnastics and ballet in her youth - and in addition to being a kick-ass soprano she's also a natural mimic of startling vocal dexterity. Padi's motto: "When all else fails, sing the right notes." There's not much Padi can't tell you about Chardonnay, the X-Files, or planets around other stars, and she has our vote for the best hair in professional astrophysics.

Factoid: Can recite, in alphabetical order, the entire roster of her third grade class.


John Ah, the many many lives of John Meyer. He is a steelie-eyed missile man by day, designing power systems that keep those astronomy satellites humming up there. He arrived at this lofty profession after a stint in the US Marine corps, where he discovered that if you break your back, they will let you out. No matter---he is still the dancing fool of the Chromies. All through his meandering path to the present, John composed unique ditties that make you think, laugh, and go "huh?" Many of them are performed at the Maryland Renaissance Festival by men in tights. Okay, there are a few women too. Others are sung with gusto by the Chromatics, including Cowboy Chant, Science of Love, Web Goddess, Buns and Muffins, with more always on the way. John's style can be best characterized as Frank Zappa meets the Swingles Singers.

Factoid: He's the only Chromie native to Maryland. Ask him to say something like "Spiderman" to hear the genuine Baltimore accent.


Deb Deb Nixon spent her youth in scenic Utah, rubbing elbows with Donny and Marie and attending college with Steve Young. We're glad she came East, where she's combined her unique skills of literary analysis and impressive database design to create data systems with deep meaning and nuanced layers of emotion for DC lawyers. We believe she has also secretly figured out how to wire MapQuest directly into her brain tissue, since she knows how to get everywhere in a car, and can bail you out to an alternative route on the fly. Deb shines on stage, nailing solos like no one else can, and creating the energy in our high energy performances. Off stage her organizational brainpower keeps our CD orders heading out the door and our mailing list current. She also arranges many of our tunes, and leads our publicity efforts. If that's not enough dedication from a soprano, we hear she wears her color even under her stage clothes, if you get our meaning.

Factoid: Doesn't have cable TV, but still knows how to do everything shown on the Home and Garden channel.


Scott Scott Rohrbach is the first new Chromatic in 11 years, bringing another scientific mind to the group. He has a high energy groove, and a high frequency voice, but enjoys the occasional ballad when things get a little too excited. As a NASA optical engineer, he has worked on missions ranging from the mid-infrared to the hard x-ray and gamma ray wavelengths, so it is hard to pin down exactly where he comes from. (He is actually from upstate NY, but has lived in two continents, three countries and six US states.) The youngest of four siblings, with two older brothers, Scott has grown to live a strict philosophy of conflict avoidance. Scott has sung in a variety of genres from British boys choir to Godspell, singing tenor in high school, bass in college and baritone in graduate school. He is a technology nerd who owns more mobile phones and computers than family members, and has walked across eight feet of broken glass and set his own hand on fire in the pursuit of science.

Factoid: He can roll his tongue both the "normal" way and upside down.


Alan Alan Smale's goal is to be seen and heard by the entire known universe. So he spends his days doing research on black holes and writing papers for and giving talks to the astrophysicists out there. By night he entertains vampires and those that admire them, by writing steamy fiction with an underworld edge--- oh, the angst being immortal in these high tech times. And his original ditties about comets, the Moon and the Doppler shift appeal to the whole family. To really get the eight-year-olds going, make sure you request I'm Too Sexy at our next concert. We'll have to talk to Alan about his demographic analysis; it seems there are still a lot of untapped markets out there waiting to discover him. Pairing up with Britney for a Pepsi commercial should be next. We won't tell the ad execs Alan drinks nothing but Diet Coke and really good red wine.

Factoid: Was the maid of honor at a wedding.


Karen Wisconsin born and bred Karen Smale is a middle child. Perhaps that explains why she is kind of obsessive about those middle parts---singing tenor, alto and mezzo whenever such a line presents itself. If that weren't fuel enough for a full blown identity crisis, Karen chose to place herself on the opposite side of the planet from the other astronomers, by studying the Sun at the University of Colorado, where she also tried to bike the equivalent distance to the Sun from the Earth during her 4-year stint. (Hint: 93 million miles.) Next it was off to NASA for more solar studies, but she was quickly ensnared by the WWWeb of techonology. She is now the Chromies' own full fledged Web Goddess, with the credentials and the CPU power to back it up. Left brain, right brain, left brain, right brain. Karen is also big into graphic design, and is the mind behind that Chromie look and feel on our Web site, CDs, and t-shirts. She writes songs about the Sun and planets, as well as the occasional cautionary tale of gridlock.

Factoid: Records the entire Tour de France every year so she won't miss even one exciting second. (Hey - why do you think she wears yellow?)