May 15, 2012
Joe Russell's obit.
Los Angeles Times:
"Sweet Joe" Russell, who spent half a century harmonizing with the Persuasions, an influential vocal group widely regarded as the "kings of a cappella," has died. He was 72. Russell died May 5 in a Brooklyn hospice after a long struggle with diabetes, said his wife, Arlena.
"If the Persuasions were a single body, Joe was the heart and soul," said David Dashev, who was their manager and producer in the 1970s at the height of their fame. "He had a larger-than-life personality combined with a genius voice." He was a tenor who occasionally sang falsetto and sometimes the lead, including on the Persuasions' version of "Papa Oom Mow Mow" that was featured in the 1982 film "E.T."
Joseph Jessie Russell was born Sept. 25, 1939, in Henderson, N.C., to gospel singer Jettie Russell and her husband, Joseph. In the 1950s, young Joe picked cotton in North Carolina and later said the days went faster when he sang with co-workers. For much of his life, Russell also worked as a butcher.
Russell last appeared with the Persuasions late last year. The group plans to continue with a permanent replacement, Hayes said.
In addition to Arlena, his wife of 24 years, Russell is survived by three daughters, Patronia, Keisha and Sandra; two sons, Joseph and Aron; 11 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. "Sweet Joe" always said he was given the nickname by singer Aretha Franklin when they were talking about sweet potato pie, according to his wife.
"He was happy-go-lucky," she said, "and matched up to his name." Read complete obituary here.
May 14, 2012
The 2012 Harmony Sweepstakes National Champions
Congratulations to Six Appeal – the new Harmony Sweepstakes National Champions. And what a great night it was with glorious harmony filling the packed venue as the seven talented groups sang for the championship. Good-natured camaraderie was an important part of the uplifting spirit of the evening and the excitement of the competition was infectious. Many of our regular attendees have told me it was one of the best National Finals ever and the exuberant standing ovation at the end of the show was certainly very satisfying. I was particularly pleased by not only the quality of the singing but also by the high level of artistry shown by most of the groups. Trite was not a word that could be used to describe any of the music and after all these many events over almost three decades I heard almost nothing but new and interesting music. I vowed many years ago that I did not want the Sweeps to devolve into similar sounding groups singing the same sort of songs year after year. The Sweeps has always welcomed originality and creativity and once again the groups delivered big time. A big thanks to all you a cappella singers out there for keeping a cappella music fresh, innovative and most of all highly entertaining.
NBC cancels The Sing-Off
Unfortunately NBC will not be optioning a 4th season of the Sing-Off. It was great while it lasted and certainly gave a higher profile to a cappella and helped discover some great groups. There is some hope however as the show is owned by Sony Pictures Television who might well pitch it to another network. There is a new syndicated version in China which is about to go into production.
May 10, 2012
Pentatonix latest video - We Are Young
Here's Pentatonix latest YouTube song We Are Young. First posted on Monday - already almost 400,000 views by Wednesday.
May 9, 2012
Congratulations Tim Hauser
Congratulations to Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer who this Sunday married his longtime sweetheart Barb Sennet Hauser. Here he is singing with the group at the wedding.
May 8, 2012
Sweet Joe Russell of the Persuasions dies
Jesse "Sweet Joe" Russell, one of the founding members of the Persuasions, passed away on Saturday while waiting for a kidney transplant. He was in his early-70's. Joe was a founding member of the group and had sang tenor with them for the past 50 years. Several years back it was determined he need a kidney transplant and although he had dialysis three times a week he continued to perform with the group. I had the pleasure of meeting Joe on several occasions and I can see why he had the nickname of "Sweet Joe" as he was indeed a sweet man.
May 7, 2012
Harmony Sweeps National Finals this weekend
The Harmony Sweepstakes National Finals are coming up this weekend and its another great line up of talented a cappella groups. All the regionals were a great success and once again we are fortunate to have a great variety of top vocal groups. The National Finals should be once again a grand night of vocal harmony singing. The regional winners are Audiofeels, Down 4 The Count, Foreign Exchange, GQ, Rooftop Rhythm, Sing Theory, Six Appeal. Hosted by 2012 National Champions – Da Capo.
May 3, 2012
Elektra Women’s Choir helps create Tapestry
Vancouver Sun (Canada):
Music-making always has a social dimension, which changes with context. In recent decades various forms of choral singing have re-defined the musical landscape with new forms of, and fresh enthusiasms in, ensemble singing.
Vancouver’s Elektra Women’s Choir is an excellent case study. Now about to turn 25, Elektra is a leader in the world of women’s choirs; and its members share the enthusiasm and expertise. It’s host this weekend to the Tapestry International Festival of Women’s Choirs, a grand event that culminates in a Saturday night four-choir sing-in.
Elektra has done a great deal to expand the contemporary repertoire, commissioning about 40 pieces over its history, which have been happily shared with other ensembles.
Director Morna Edmundson doesn’t need to make a big deal about the social aspect of women of all ages singing together; she does acknowledge it’s nice to have the fellowship and esprit du corps within a focus on music.
“On Monday nights women get to do something for themselves, something which also has an artistic side,” she says.
If the going gets tough (all those new pieces make for plenty of challenges), Edmundson keeps things focused and in perspective.
“Sometimes I look up from conducting and say, ‘Some people go bowling on Monday nights, you’re here learning to sing these words to this ridiculous rhythm.’ ” Read more.
May 2, 2012
A cappella wheels
Here's one way to promote your show. Not sure my trusty Dodge caravan would look quite so cool..
South Asian A Cappella Groups Fuse Bollywood and Pop
New York Times (blog):
Like many first-generation Indian Americans, singers in the a capella group NY Masti were raised on a steady diet of Bollywood music at home and pop music on their car radios. Somewhere between graduating high school and starting their careers, the two genres merged, becoming an all-vocal fusion of music, complete with “filmi” Hindi songs and soulful hip-hop ballads.
The five 20-something women, dolled up in black dresses and nude-colored stilettos, recently performed a mash-up of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” Amit Trivedi’s “Iktara” and Usher’s “Without You” for a crowd of college students and families at last month’s Pappu Can Sing Buddy event in Manhattan.
Organized by the non-profit performing arts coalition Anamika-Navatman at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the evening showcased three South Asian a capella groups: city-based NY Masti, Stanford University’s Raagapella, and Princeton University’s Tarana. Read more.
May 1, 2012
Talk about high voices..
For the past 500 years the Magdalen College Choir of Oxford University starts the May Morning celebration by singing at 6am the Hymnus Eucharisticus, from the top of Magdalen Tower. Large crowds normally gather under the tower along the High Street and on Magdalen Bridge and the singing is then followed by general revelry and festivities including Morris dancing, impromptu music, etc.