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August 15, 2006

All-embracing Nylons headline all-Canadian lineup

Ottawa Citizen (Canada):

Quick now, pretend you're an a cappella singer. What's the most important part of your body? Nope, not your vocal chords. "You'll get further with good ears and a mediocre voice than you will with a great voice and mediocre ears," says Claude Morrison, tenor with Canada's a cappella pacesetters The Nylons. "A cappella is all about singing into a blend. You really have to be sensitive to the others."

Morrison, who once worked as a singing waiter ("whenever you had a minute between courses, you'd just step out on the floor and do a number a cappella"), would know. He's been with the showy quartet, one of the highlights of this year's 10-day Super Ex concert series, since it was conceived by four out-of-work actors in a Toronto deli almost 25 years ago.

Since then, the Nylons have weathered umpteen personnel changes, leaving Morrison as the sole remaining founding member. They've played 1,000-odd concerts around the world, enjoyed hits with Up The Ladder To The Roof and The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and won a Juno. The Nylons' music has even accompanied astronauts on a NASA space shuttle.

Sensible people think twice about singing in public, let alone performing with no instruments to mask the inevitable blunders. Not practitioners of a cappella. "We're attention whores, we love it," laughs baritone Gavin Hope.

He recently rejoined the Nylons after a couple of years off to perform in Rent, sing jingles and follow other musical pursuits. The group now also includes the group's other tenor Garth Mosbaugh and bass Tyrone Gabriel. Hope adds that the Nylons' 16th disc, a selection from the ensemble's quarter century of music, should be available this fall. That's to be followed early next year by an album of new material.

The Nylons, originally an all-gay group, have long enjoyed a special following in the gay community. They recently performed, for the second time, at Toronto Pride festivities, and their Ex show coincides with Ottawa's Pride Week. Hope points to the group's inclusiveness as a reason for their gay following, although he stresses that's only one part of their considerable constituency. "With the Nylons, it's a big brush. We welcome all walks of life and we represent a lot of different walks of life. Some of us are gay and some of us are straight. Some of us are brown, some of us are beige. We have a finger in every pot."

Posted by acapnews at August 15, 2006 9:13 PM