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February 4, 2006

Naturally a cappella

Syracuse Post Standard (NY):

When watching Naturally Seven perform, it's important to focus all your senses. Otherwise, your ears will deceive your eyes. Naturally Seven, an acclaimed a cappella singing group, will perform 8 p.m. Saturday at Syracuse University's Goldstein Auditorium. The seven male vocalists use their elastic voices to imitate the sound of a fully equipped band, creating a deceptively rich and intricate sound.

If two is company and three's a crowd, then seven seems as if it would be chaos, but that number isn't an accident - it's vital to the Naturally Seven sound.
"Seven actually works out to be almost a perfect number to get what we want to do done," said Rod Eldridge, a founding member of the group who grew up in Syracuse.

After forming in New York City in 1998, the group created its sound by listening to other a cappella groups and dreaming up ways to sing outside the box. "Bit by bit, we started working ourselves to be less of an a cappella group and turning ourselves into a vocal band," Eldridge said.

A vocal percussionist keeps the beat while the bass vocalist bellows the low notes, and the remaining five members alternate between singing lead, harmonizing and mimicking instruments including a violin and turntable scratching. Their love of vocal experimentation gives them access to a conceivably endless supply of instruments.

"It's something that most people probably have done or try to do at some point in time, when you're listening to the radio and your favorite song comes on and there's a guitar riff, and you're screeching away trying to do it," Eldridge said. "We have said, you know, let's really try to do it, not for something that we're doing in the shower."

The group's sound tugs at many threads from the tapestry of black vocal music, including jazz scatting, traditional gospel and beat-boxing. Their diverse style made them a natural choice to perform as part of SU's Black History Month celebration. "I thought it was most appropriate to invite them," said Paul Buckley, SU's associate director of multicultural affairs. "They are such a phenomenal group, and I thought they would be a great choice to represent black music and black culture."

Naturally Seven plays about 100 shows per year, but Saturday's performance will be only the second time Eldridge has performed in his old stomping ground. The band's last Syracuse performance was also at SU in 2001. Eldridge said he and his band are thrilled to be returning to SU, especially to take part in Black History Month. "There are so many good and positive things coming out of black culture and the black influence on music, culture and art," Eldridge said. "We're happy to be a part of it."

Posted by acapnews at February 4, 2006 12:31 AM