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December 3, 2010

Groups don't need 'Glee' effects on 'Sing Off'

St. Louis Post Dispatch (MO):

Voices aren't really all that important in today's overproduced, Auto-Tuned popular music. Not so on "The Sing Off," NBC's competition for a cappella singing groups, which begins its second season Monday. Ten groups — as diverse as high schoolers from Kettering, Ohio; elderly soul singers from Oakland, Calif.; and Yale University's famed Whiffenpoofs — will perform over 10 hours and five weeks, culminating in a Dec. 20 finale.

As judge Shawn Stockman, who sang a cappella with Boyz II Men, puts it: "People don't really understand how hard it is to sing with no instrumentation, no band, no fireworks." But the best a cappella groups create fireworks of their own, using only their voices, as this show again proves.

Credit "Glee" for spawning "The Sing Off," which NBC dreamed up after seeing Fox's musical dramedy become a TV sensation. But while complaints about how heavily "Glee" relies on elaborate staging and post-production tricks have mounted in its second season, "The Sing Off" goes back to the source.

People have come together to sing since the ancient Greeks, raising their voices in church choirs and barbershop quartets, community choruses and school glee clubs. The Whiffenpoofs, founded in 1909 at Yale University, claim credit as the country's first a cappella collegiate singing group.

The most touching story in the premiere comes from Jerry Lawson, former lead singer of the Persuasions who says he's been singing for 61 years. "I walked away from a cappella after 40 years," then hit bottom, says Lawson, who's now "born again" with Oakland's Talk of the Town. "We didn't invent a cappella, but we sort of feel like the godfathers."

Touching stories aside, "The Sing Off" is about talent — "pure, raw, unadulterated talent," as Stockman puts it. In fact, the level of talent seems almost impossible in Season 2, after more groups discovered the show and clamored to compete. The talent "is clearly stepped up a notch from what Season 1 was," host Nick Lachey (98 Degrees) says. "And I was blown away by Season 1." Read more.

Posted by acapnews at December 3, 2010 12:00 AM

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