November 29, 2011
Meet Scott Hoying
The leader and creative force in Pentatonix is Scott Hoying who has had his eye on show biz success since he was a young lad. He began singing at an early age and was a Star Search finalist at the age of 12. He won several regional talent competitions including Johnnie High's "Next Big Star" contest, Kidd Kraddick’s Jingle contest, and Nashville’s American Music Showcase.
Scott sang in his high school choir and trained at the performing arts school in Arlington, Texas. He performed with the Radio Disney Superstars for several years singing at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. He moved to Los Angeles and is currently a member of the Popular Music Program at University of Southern Caliifornia where he was singing until recently with SoCal Vocals.
Scott is a very talented young man and I hope he keeps his focus on a cappella music rather than seeking a solo career in the future.
November 28, 2011
Pentatonix wins the Sing-Off
Congratulations to Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Avi Kaplan, Kirstin Maldonado and Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix who won the national audience vote and are the new Sing Off champions. Hoying, Grassi and Maldonado are best friends from high school in Arlington, Texas and they found the other two members earlier this year; Olusola via YouTube and Kaplan through a friend.
They are most worthy champions and were in my opinion the most talented group in the competition without doubt. I agree with one of the judges who said that they could take a cappella into the mainstream and with the right producers and management could be very successful.
And the Sing Off is not quite over as there is to be a live Christmas edition next Monday night which will have special guests including groups from all three seasons including season two winners Committed, season one winners Nota, The Backbeats, Beelzebubs, On the Rocks, Street Corner Symphony and many of the top ten groups from season three. So two more hours of prime time a cappella yet to go.
November 24, 2011
November 21, 2011
Robin Gibb Diagnosed With Liver Cancer
Robin Gibb, one-third of the 70′s singing group the Bee Gees has been diagnosed with liver cancer. The singer had been battling a year-long list of sicknesses which forced him to cancel various public appearances. Robin underwent gastro-intestinal surgery in August 2010 and appeared frail last week as the 61-year-old was rushed to the hospital by ambulance from his home in Oxfordshire. According to British newspaper The Mirror the singer was actually diagnosed with the deadly disease several months ago and there’s a chance that Robin has the same condition that claimed his twin brother Maurice Gibb 8 years ago. I grew up listening to the Bees Gees (whether I wanted to or not) and although not a huge fan I always appreciated their vocal harmonies. Another case of a great sibling blend.
November 18, 2011
Passengers sing in support of bus driver
Passengers on Ottawa buses were breaking into song Friday to show their support for OC Transpo's silenced singing bus driver. The transit sing-song was organized by passengers who were upset when driver Yves Roy was told earlier this month to stop belting out songs along his route. OC Transpo told him the singing had provoked about a dozen complaints.
A Facebook campaign was launched, drawing the support of nearly 1,200 people who promised to croon in support of Roy's singing when they took the bus on Friday.
They’re all just drivers
They need our sympathy
Cuz it’s no easy job that they do
Julie Seguin said the singers were reacting to a "ridiculous" decision by the transit authority. "For once, there's a really positive thing happening in the bus … and they shut him down," she said.
Roy, 62, has said his singing has brought him praise during his 11 years driving a bus but he doesn't mind giving it up. He found out about his singing supporters early Friday, when someone boarded his bus wearing a T-shirt that said, "Let him sing."
"I'm moved," Roy said. "This is unbelievable.… But I don't think this is going to get anywhere with management." Read more and watch the clip.
November 17, 2011
Earlier this month it was announced that a live-action movie was in the works for "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" Jennifer Lopez is attached to produce and potentially star in the film about a globe-trotting thief.
Well the news inspired a Taiwan animation treatment and above is a spoof trailer. Rockapella makes an appearance in this most peculiar clip.
November 16, 2011
“The David Hasseloffs of A Cappella”
The Blanks seem to be growing in popularity in the UK and are currently in Scotland where they were interviewed by Glasswork. A quote:-
Q: You've been to the UK to tour a fair few times recently. We love you here. Aside from the weather and the food what are you're favourite things about England?
Why, thanks, the feeling is mutual! Gosh, where to begin? Newspapers with naked people in them. Obviously. Folks constantly offering us sweets, and not just the ones wearing trench coats. Mushy peas… wait, that’s food-related. There is the colourful money of course. We are perplexed about a few things in your country… such as why all the showers here have odd glass partitions that allow the shower water to flow out and onto floor. And you guys still insist on the “two faucet” system in your sinks, one with scalding hot, the other with freezing cold water. I think once you guys fix up your plumbing, there will be no stopping you.
November 14, 2011
Arlington Trio Shines
Fort Worth Star Telegram:
Over the past decade or so, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi and Kirstie Maldonado have sung their way into hearts and souls across North Texas. All three made a mark at Martin High, regularly winning spots on the UIL all-state choir. Before that, Grassi and Maldonado were mainstays at Theatre Arlington, while Hoying could be found at places like CATS and Johnnie High's Country Music Revue.
Now the tight-knit trio is giving America a taste of its talents, competing on NBC's The Sing-Off. On Monday night's episode, Pentatonix, which also has two other members, made it into the final five. At stake: $200,000 and a Sony Music recording contract.
From making their own YouTube videos to the bright lights of L.A.: If the college years are about leaving home and exploring the world, then the three, through hours of toil and a little serendipity, have made every musical note count.
The practical: "I think we've all grown so much as musicians, but more importantly, as individuals," said Grassi, 19. "We've learned to work hard under extreme stress, as well as tolerance and understanding toward new ideas."
The creative: "We are making music with just our voices, and we're doing it in a way it's never been done before," said Hoying, 20, the frontman. "I feel like I'm creating a successful band with my best friends, and it honestly is the best feeling in the world performing with them."
The memorable: Maldonado, 19, called the experience "amazing, incredible, life-changing. I'm humbled to have worked with such amazing people as a performer and as a person," she said. Read more.
Pentatonix just nailed it this week on the Sing-Off. And they are barely out of High School. Great talent!
November 12, 2011
NZ Baritone Joins The King’s Singers
New Zealand baritone Christopher Bruerton has been appointed as the first ever foreign national member of The King’s Singers. And in a wonderful twist of fate, his first tour with the Grammy-award winning group brings him home for The King’s Singers first New Zealand concert in 27 years.
The King’s Singers tour Australia and New Zealand in early 2012 with concerts including a performance at Sydney Opera House before they perform one concert only at Auckland Town Hall on Saturday 25 February.
Chris Bruerton replaces long-time baritone Philip Lawson who is retiring after 18 years with the ensemble.
“As a Kiwi, it was a privilege to sing with The Kingʼs Singers once, let alone twice at the auditions. When I got the call back I was just stoked to have made it that far. I walked back into the room and greeted the guys again, wondering, as I took out my folder of music, what they would be asking me to sing this time. Then they offered me the job and I was astonished! Mum would have been proud as punch and I know she will be looking down on me throughout the journey.”
Following the tour, Chris will find himself performing in some of the worldʼs most glorious concert halls including Carnegie Hall in New York and the Philharmonie in Berlin.
Half the globe separates the two ʻChrist Churchesʼ which have shaped the life of the 27 year-old singer. Chris was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand where he joined the cathedral choir at the age of 10 and soon after, like his inspiration Aled Jones, released recordings of cathedral and Christmas favourites.
Staying with the choir as a Choral Scholar and then a Bass Lay Clerk, he travelled to England in 1999 and a visit to Christ Church in Oxford fuelled his dreams of becoming a professional singer in the UK.
November 11, 2011
Who woulda thought
Well here's an a cappella trio I would of never thought of in a million years. Michael Stipe, Brian Eno and Stephen Colbert sing Bill Withers classic "Lean on Me" a cappella to close last night's Colbert Report. I do remember hearing that Brian Eno has an affinity for a unaccompanied singing and has hosted regular a cappella get togethers with friends.
A Cappella Stereotypes
The Huffington Post's blogger Stephen Harrison has posted a photo slideshow of some a cappella stereotypes including The Pitchmaster, Sultry Soprano and Captain Enthusiasm. Have a chuckle here.
November 10, 2011
From Britain, the Sounds of a Century
New York Times:
Tenebrae, a 17-voice British choir founded 10 years ago by Nigel Short, a former member of the King’s Singers, is best known to American listeners through its recordings: about a dozen of its own and a few notable collaborations with Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra.
But if the group toured here as often as the Tallis Scholars, it could probably match — perhaps even draw on — that ensemble’s considerable following in New York. The two choirs’ repertories overlap only slightly: the Tallis Scholars specialize in early music, and though Tenebrae sings some of that too, its focus is mostly on the 20th and 21st centuries. And the enthusiasm of the large crowd that packed into the Church of St. Mary the Virgin for Tenebrae’s concert on Sunday evening suggested that there is a hunger for what this finely polished group has to offer.
If harmonic language were the only measure, the distance between the earliest and latest scores was not vast. Intense dissonance has rarely interested choruses (or their audiences), nor has the angularity of contemporary music for solo voice found much success in ensemble music. That is not to say that dissonance has been banished entirely; but composers — Holst and Vaughan Williams as well as Mr. Mealor and Mr. Talbot — have tended to use it judiciously to create shimmering, tantalizingly unbalanced textures that invariably resolve into sumptuous consonance that flatters the voice and seduces the ear.
The difference between the old and new works was more a matter of scope. Mr. Mealor’s four-movement cycle “Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal” (2010) uses soaring soprano lines, lushly harmonized rhythmic counterpoint and varied articulation to explore the imagery of the rose as both a secular (mostly amorous but naturalistic as well) and religious symbol. Read more.
November 9, 2011
Anonymous 4 Retrace The Steps Of Their 14th-Century Sisters
In their liner notes for their newest release, one of the four women in the a cappella group Anonymous 4, Susan Hellauer, says that they are following in the footsteps of "much-older sisters." How much older? 800 years.
All the music on Secret Voices comes from the Codex Las Huelgas, an anthology of 13th- and early 14th-century polyphony and song that was compiled at a convent in northern Spain, the Cistercian Santa Maria la Real de Las Huelgas in Burgos. The manuscript was rediscovered in 1904, and in recent years has proved a very rich vein of material for early music performers.
While the Cistercian code emphasizes a life of ora et labora – "prayer and work" – and discourages music, the existence of this manuscript proves that these nuns enjoyed marvelous and difficult vocal music. While it's assumed by most scholars that the nuns of this abbey sang the glorious music found in the Codex Las Huelgas themselves, some claim the nuns hired a male choir to sing for them. However, one of the selections Anonymous 4 includes here appears to refute that notion rather bluntly: "Sing out these and other such things,/you cloistered virgins,/ golden nuns,/you are fitted for this/because you were born to cultivate polyphony." Listen.
November 8, 2011
For Dr Who fans
OK not at all a cappella but as a Dr Who fan I just love this new video of the cast and crew singing The Proclaimers "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" as a farewell to David Tennant's tenure as the Doctor.
November 5, 2011
Lip syncing on 'The X Factor'? Sometimes
Los Angeles Times (blog):
Is "The X Factor" really finding the next great Milli Vanilli? Simon Cowell's flashy singing competition series is catching some heat for lip syncing.
The scrutiny came after Thursday's episode when contestant Leroy Bell was heard singing before the microphone reached his mouth during an opening group medley. But an "X Factor" spokesperson said in a statement that such a practice is a common occurrence with ensemble performances:
"All survival songs are performed live, with just a backing track. For the group ensemble performance, the vocals are pre-recorded to allow acts to concentrate on preparing for their own live competitive performances on Wednesdays -- this is also no different to what other competition shows do for ensemble performances."
And "The X Factor" certainly isn't alone in the matter. Network sibling "American Idol" has also copped to group numbers using recorded vocals.
Tell me it isn't so. Can't help but watch those Sing-Off ensemble numbers a little closer from now on..
November 4, 2011
Boyz II Men rebranding themselves
Boyz II Men have always straddled two generations: Twenty years ago, the Grammy-winning teenage quartet crooned with the passion of old-school swooners. Dressed in urban-preppy ice-blue jeans and letter jackets, the young boys of R&B kept their sounds fresh with a new jack swing baseline.
These days Boyz II Men are a trio: Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris (no relation), and Shawn Stockman. (Former baritone Michael McCrary has been in a running dispute with the group.) They are the older cats in a cyber-driven industry dominated by electronic beats. They still sing love songs with voices like well-tuned instruments, but instead of infusing up-tempo tracks with hip-hop, the group is embracing technology: Think Boyz II Men Facebook page and app.
Their most grown-up move, however, is to restructure their business, new millennium-style. Boyz II Men’s latest project, “Twenty,” released last week, is a product of their own label, MSM (Morris, Stockman, Morris). The two CDS are a compilation of classic hits, such as “End of the Road” and “I’ll Make Love To You,” plus 12 new songs, including the group’s latest single, “More Than You’ll Ever Know,” a duo with the industry’s best comeback, Gap Band lead singer Charlie Wilson.
Boyz II Men owns the rights to all of the new music, so after they pay for marketing and CD manufacture, they stand to make a pretty penny on this 10th album.
“We’ve made money, but we’ve never been able to possibly make this much,” said Stockman, the group’s tenor and a judge on NBC’s a cappella reality show, “The Sing-Off.” “If all goes well,” he said, “it could be a very good year.”
Financially speaking, maybe — but it’s a long shot that Boyz II Men will match their early 1990s peak (four Grammys and 60 million albums sold worldwide). They remain one of the best-selling R&B groups in history — the best, they claim. Read more.
November 3, 2011
Whiffs on The Daily Show
Yale Daily News::
No longer will the Whiffenpoofs be known only as the world's oldest collegiate a cappella group — they have now also been deemed the "rich man's human microphone."
In a Tuesday skit on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, five former Whiffs (or Spizzwinks, or members of Yale's general a cappella scene, regardless, we know we see Sam Bolen '11, a Whiff) help the humorist John Hodgman '94 illustrate the threat the wealthy face in the United States. The top 1 percent of income-earners, Hodgman explains, are a "persecuted minority," and he calls on the singers to support his explanation of how he became a millionaire without anyone's help. From one sentence to the next, the a cappella group pitches in to help him share his "inspired story."
When Hodgman fires the a cappella members to prove to Stewart that "demonizing the rich" can lead to consequences such as job loss, the five singers, in harmony, lament the students loans they yet have to repay.
"Well you should have thought of that before you went to Yale," Hodgman responds. "And majored in a cappella." Watch the segment here.
I did see this last night (I always watch at least the first segment of the Daily Show) and its always fun to see a cappella groups popping up all over the place. BTW I also heard John Hodgman on NPR yesterday and his new book sounds hilarious.
The Sing-Off Hits #1 on iTunes Soundtrack Songs Charts
"The Sing-Off," the NBC all vocal competition series, impacted the iTunes Soundtrack charts yet again with Dartmouth Aires' medley of classic songs from the legendary artist Queen taking the number one spot on the Soundtrack Songs chart and the most recent weekly album from "The Sing-Off" taking one of the top three spots on the Soundtrack Albums chart.
Three additional songs from the show sit on the Soundtrack Songs chart as well including Pentatonix's Britney Spears medley at number six along with their rendition of Kanye West's "Love Lockdown" at number ten and Delilah's Alicia Keys medley at number eight.
The show, which has proven to be a regular presence on the iTunes Soundtrack charts, showcases some of the most talented vocalists on television week-after-week. During the October 31 episode, the groups performed popular superstar medleys from artists including Billy Joel, Janet Jackson and Elvis Presley.
During the week of October 4, "The Sing-Off" held seven of the top ten tracks on the iTunes Soundtrack Song chart with performances from the third episode which featured '60s classics, as well as new hits. The momentum continues to grow as these competing groups embrace the heart and soul of a cappella music and find success on the iTunes Soundtrack charts as evident by Pentatonix's version of "Video Killed the Radio Star," which has remained among the top 20 tracks on the Soundtrack Song chart for four weeks in a row.
"The Sing-Off" also holds nineteen spots on the iTunes Soundtracks Top 100 Chart, more than any other television series on the list including Urban Method's Rihanna medley where they combined "What's My Name?," "Umbrella" and "Only Girl In the World."
November 1, 2011
Urban Method's Myke Charles on NBC's Sing-Off
Mykal Hudson -- better known locally as Myke Charles, or by his previous moniker, Purpose Found, of the Fresh Breath Committee -- is a member of Urban Method, the talented Denver-based a cappella group assembled by Sonic Audio's Tony Huerta and currently vying for the top spot on NBC's Sing-Off. Since the show premiered at the end of September, Urban Method has steadily made its way to the top. And with last night's episode, the outfit secured its place among the final six acts.
Easily wowing the judges with the obvious chemistry between the group's members, Urban Method, taking advantage of his rap virtues and deep vocals, let Charles's star shine on performances of songs like "Love the Way You Lie," by Enimem, and "Can't Get Enough," by the Black Eyed Peas. While it may look easy on stage, Myke says the only easy thing about the process was pulling together the artists to make up the band.
"We made it onto the Sing-Off as a new group, and it really is an extreme condition to be working in," Charles reveals. "Meaning like extreme in the sense that you work about fifteen- to eighteen-hour days and are challenged to be great every day. Not only that, you're with your group 95 percent of the time. So being a new group as we are, there were growing pains. We had to quickly work well together and quickly get to know each other and learn each other's working styles." Read more.