August 13, 2014

Elvis A Cappella: A Tribute To The King

Now we know for sure that a cappella has made the big time. This week Graceland is presenting "Elvis A Cappella: A Tribute To The King", a sixty minute show on the main stage featuring Kentucky's Acoustikats, Florida State University's All-Night Yahtzee, The James Madison University BluesTones, The Vanderbilt Melodores, and Memphis' own Briarcrest OneVoice. More info here.

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August 11, 2014

Robin Williams a cappella

Sad news indeed today with the passing of the great Robin Williams. This clip of him performing with Bobby McFerrin and Bill Irwin in the original 1988 video for "Don't Worry Be Happy" will hopefully cheer you up!

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August 8, 2014

How Ladysmith Black Mambazo turned into ballet dancers

The Guardian (UK):

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the veteran South African singing group, have collaborated with half the known music world – everyone from Stevie Wonder to Dolly Parton to, most famously, Paul Simon on his classic 1988 album Graceland. But this year, the choir may be performing the most extraordinary project of their 50-year career: a contemporary dance production called Inala in which they not only sing the 15 or so new songs woven into its score, but also dance alongside its cast of classical and contemporary dancers.

The seed was sown five years ago, when two young British women went to watch LBM, as they're widely known, during a UK tour. Ella Spira, a composer, had loved them since childhood. The history of oppression and suffering embodied in their lyrics, as well as the haunting harmonic textures of their music (derived from migrant Zulu workers), had always moved her. "It's that wall of sound they make," she says. "It just hits you here, in your chest."

Her friend Pietra Mello-Pittman, a dancer with the Royal Ballet, was equally overwhelmed by LBM's music, but found the production values of their performance surprisingly old-fashioned. "I suppose I've got used to the fabulous spectacle we put on at the [Royal] Opera House. But the show's visuals looked to me as though they hadn't changed in 50 years. That made me think how fantastic it would be to create some kind of ballet around the Ladysmiths and have Ella compose the score."

Read more.

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August 2, 2014

Peter Hollens Gets Major Record Deal


A cappella singer Peter Hollens has snagged a wicked record deal just days after unleashing a medley from the Wicked musical.

Sony Music announced Thursday that its classical and crossover label Sony Music Masterworks inked a deal with Hollens, who will release his debut album on Oct. 28.

"We've been in talks for a few months, but nothing was set in stone until just recently," Hollens, 32, told Mashable. "Honestly, with a 4-month-old, and a full-time job, I've had so little time to celebrate. I really need to find time to do that."

His YouTube channel has accumulated nearly 63 million views since 2011, and it features collaborations with fellow YouTubers Nick Pitera, Lindsey Stirling, Mike Tompkins, Sam Tsui, Tyler Ward, George Watsky, Alex G and even his wife, Evynne Hollens.

"His ideas are fresh and his creative imagination is fearless," Chuck Mitchell, senior vice president of Sony Music Masterworks said in a statement.

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July 30, 2014

Out of the Blue goes viral

The latest viral a cappella clip is of Oxford University's Out Of The Blue" performing Shakira's hit song "Hips Don't Lie." If you like your male a cappella singers to be shirtless then this is the video for you.

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July 26, 2014

Quiting your job the a cappella way

This guy knows how to go out in style.

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July 24, 2014

Free Vocal Guide for Singers

Our fine friends at Discmakers are offering a free guide:-

Fine Tuning Your Vocals - Looking to get the most out of your vocal performances? Disc Makers’ new guide, The Vocalist’s Guide to Recording, Rehearsing, and Performing covers the tips and techniques critical for singers in any genre of music. Includes:
• Care & Maintenance
• Warm Up / Cool Down
• Eating Potato Chips
• and much, much, much more!

Download here.

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July 22, 2014

Julian Gregory joins The King’s Singers

The King’s Singers have announced that Julian Gregory (tenor) will be joining them in September this year following the withdrawal of Benedict Hymas from the position for personal reasons.

“We were blessed with a world-class field of singers for this position and are thrilled that Julian has agreed to become a member of The King’s Singers, his voice having been on our radar for some time. He sings beautifully, and fits within the ensemble perfectly both on and off-stage. We’re all looking forward to working and touring with him very much” said Christopher Gabbitas.

Julian’s first performance with the group will be a charity concert on Thursday 25 September in Mayfield, UK, before touring across Europe and the United States.

On being appointed Julian, who had been unable to audition in April when Paul Phoenix first announced his departure, said: “The opportunity to be in The King’s Singers only comes once and, although for me this has come mid-studies at the Royal Academy of Music, I’m truly delighted to be embarking on this new adventure at this early stage of my career. The Kings Singer’s is a group that I’ve revered since I was a child – my close friends can vouch for this! – so to now be in this unique position is unbelievable. I’m very much looking forward to an exciting time ahead.”

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July 17, 2014

Celebrating rhubarb

A shout out to the Rhubarb Sisters who will be performing at the upcoming Rhubarb Festival in Lanesboro, MN. They have sung Garrison Keillor's 'Bebop-a-rebop Rhubarb Pie' on his Minnesota Public Radio show and have been singing together for over a decade. Although not easy to find here in California we very much love a homemade rhubarb pie!

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July 11, 2014

Estonia’s Revolutionary Spirit, Embodied in Music

New York Times:

In a sea of embroidered regional costumes and blue, black and white flags, more than 20,000 choral singers recently filled the stage of an amphitheater here, cheering their conductors and composers as if they were rock stars.

The scene was part of the Estonian song and dance celebration, known as Laulupidu, which took place this year from July 4 to 6. The festival was founded in 1869 to resist the forces of Russification. As Estonia fought its way to independence from Russia and the Soviet Union, in 1918 and then again in 1991, choral singing remained a way to preserve the Estonian language and traditions. An unofficial edition of Laulupidu that took place in 1988 in open defiance of Moscow is known as the “Singing Revolution.”

Read more.

Do read the article as it is very interesting. This sentence did jump out for me "The composer Erkki-Sven Tuur wrote an a cappella work, “Retreaters,” sung by a mixed choir of 21,225, just for the occasion."

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July 9, 2014

Johnny Mann dies at 85

Johnny Mann, center, with Regis Philbin, left, and Joey Bishop. Mr. Mann was music director of the Bishop show in 1967-69.

The New York Times reports that Johnny Mann, who won two Grammy Awards as leader of the clean-cut easy-listening vocal group the Johnny Mann Singers, died on June 18 at his home in Anderson, S.C. He was 85. The cause was heart failure, his wife, Betty, said.

I had the great pleasure of knowing Johnny and talked to him many times over the years. His first response was always "Still alive and kicking" whenever I asked how things were and he was very congenial and easy to talk with. Always the perfect gentleman he seemed very happy in his retirement. I will miss those conversations.

Here's a studio line up of the Johnny Mann Singers. L-R: Bob Joyce, Randy Crenshaw, Don Shelton, Johnny Mann, Melissa Mackay, Darlene Koldenhoven and Linda Harmon/Photo courtesy of Betty Mann)

New York Times obit.

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July 8, 2014

How Hollywood Harmonizes

The Hollywood Reporter has put up a page of clips from shows and movies that had some a cappella singing including Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson performing "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite" from Three Men and A Baby.

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July 7, 2014

Musical Island Boys win gold

Congratulations to New Zealand's Music Island Boys who won gold this weekend in Las Vegas at the International Barbershop Competition. Silver went to Forefront and bronze to the Main Street quartet. The Vocal Majority once again won gold in the chorus competition with Masters of Harmony winning silver and Great Northern Union taking bronze. Collegiate winners were The Academy.

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July 3, 2014

Pentatonix joins Pitch Perfect 2

An interesting piece of a cappella news while I was away is that Entertainment Weeky is reporting that Pentatonix joined the cast of Pitch Perfect 2 for a day of shooting where they appear as rivals to the Bellas. No speaking parts but they did get to arrange their own song to make sure they retained “the Pentatonix sound,” says group member Scott Hoying.

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July 2, 2014

Back from vacation

No blogging the past few weeks as I was away on our annual family vacation. This year we went to Alberta, Canada and had a absolutely wonderful time. We were on the prairie, in the badlands, at the lakes and of course in the Canadian Rockies where, as you can see in the photo above, we saw some truly spectacular sights.

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