January 31, 2013
Patty Andrews, Singer With Her Sisters, Is Dead at 94
New York Times:
Patty Andrews, the last of the Andrews Sisters, the jaunty vocal trio whose immensely popular music became part of the patriotic fabric of World War II America, died on Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94.
With their jazzy renditions of songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B),” “Rum and Coca-Cola” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me),” Patty, Maxene and LaVerne Andrews sold war bonds, boosted morale on the home front, performed with Bing Crosby and with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, made movies and entertained thousands of American troops overseas, for whom the women represented the loves and the land the troops had left behind.
Patty, the youngest, was a soprano and sang lead; Maxene handled the high harmony; and LaVerne, the oldest, took the low notes. They began singing together as children; by the time they were teenagers they made up an accomplished vocal group. Modeling their act on the commercially successful Boswell Sisters, they joined a traveling revue and sang at county fairs and in vaudeville shows. Their big break came in 1937 when they were signed by Decca Records, but their first recording went nowhere. Read more.
One of the most famous vocal groups ever and one that will remembered for a very long time. I salute you Patty Andrews! Thank you for the sweet harmony.
January 29, 2013
Folgers jingle contest
It's time once again to get your submissions ready for the Folgers Jingle Contest. With a $25,000 prize and some good exposure I'd say it's worth the effort. Rockapella sure did very well with it. Deadline for submissions March 6. More info.
January 25, 2013
Obituary - Frank Pooler dies at 86
Los Angeles Times:
Frank Pooler, a longtime choral director at Cal State Long Beach who is credited with helping the 1970s pop group the Carpenters develop their signature sound, has died. He was 86. Pooler died Jan. 19 in his Los Alamitos home after a short battle with lung cancer, said his wife, Rhonda Sandberg Pooler.
He began teaching at the school in 1959 and founded the choral studies department. Among the students he mentored were a gangly brother and sister, Richard and Karen Carpenter. The two were studying music, Richard playing piano and Karen on the drums, when they landed spots in Pooler's choir.
Pooler soon began to encourage them both to sing and compose, instead. "Frank was unique in his ability to nurture talent and give it wings to fly," said Leland Vail, a former student and colleague who teaches music at the university.
As the duo rose to fame, Pooler continued to mentor the Carpenters, who often popped into classes to play their latest recordings. They credited Pooler with teaching them his "voice blending" technique, which would become instrumental in the Carpenters' trademark soft vocal harmonies in hits such as "Rainy Days and Mondays" and "Close to You." The duo later performed several benefit concerts at the school.
"He was the only one down there who actually understood what we were after, and he stood behind us all the way," Karen Carpenter, who died in 1983, said of him in a 1978 radio interview.
Though he was celebrated in the world of choral singing, Pooler was best known for co-writing "Merry Christmas Darling," one of the few modern tunes to join the anthology of holiday standards. Read more.
January 24, 2013
The Science Behind Beatboxing
Using the mouth, lips, tongue and voice to generate sounds that one might never expect to come from the human body is the specialty of the artists known as beatboxers. Now scientists have used scanners to peer into a beatboxer as he performed his craft to reveal the secrets of this mysterious art.
The human voice has long been used to generate percussion effects in many cultures, including North American scat singing, Celtic lilting and diddling, and Chinese kouji performances. In southern Indian classical music, konnakol is the percussive speech of the solkattu rhythmic form. In contemporary pop music, the relatively young vocal art form of beatboxing is an element of hip-hop culture.
Until now, the phonetics of these percussion effects were not examined in detail. For instance, it was unknown to what extent beatboxers produced sounds already used within human language.
To learn more about beatboxing, scientists analyzed a 27-year-old male performing in real-time using MRI. This gave researchers "an opportunity to study the sounds people produce in much greater detail than has previously been possible," said Shrikanth Narayanan, a speech and audio engineer at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. "The overarching goals of our work drive at larger questions related to the nature of sound production and mental processing in human communication, and a study like this is a small part of the larger puzzle.
January 23, 2013
Petra Goes to the Movies
Petra Haden is no stranger to the world of a cappella. Back in 2005, she released Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out, her solo take on the British band’s classic album. And she released an a cappella cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” in 2007, two long years before the kids of Glee funked up their version. Her latest project is Petra Goes To The Movies, where Haden takes on 16 different movie scores, from Psycho to Superman. Read an interview with Petra about this project.
Petra will be performing a free concert this Saturday at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
January 22, 2013
Janis, a cappella and her 70th birthday
In the annals of improbable rock classics, Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” looms even unlikelier than most. It’s sung a cappella, lasts less than two minutes, and wasn’t even written or recorded with a public release in mind. Yet, on the occasion of Joplin’s 70th birthday, “Benz” remains one of the songs most associated with the late singer—partly because of the poignancy of its having been recorded on her final day in the studio, and partly because it’s one of the great light-hearted sing-alongs of the 20th century.
The posthumously released "Pearl"“It’s a campfire song, isn’t it?” says Bob Neuwirth, who wrote the song with Joplin between sets two months before she died in 1970. “You don’t need any particular musical skill to sing it, and because it’s a cappella, everybody can tackle it in their own way. But I’m sure Janis would be shocked at the attention that that song has gotten over the years,” he laughs. “She’d just be shaking her head in disbelief at it.” Read more.
January 21, 2013
Review: Legendary Hendricks caps evening of swinging singing
Las Vegas Review Journal
This is not music for a sing-along. Shower singers who attempt to replicate these lyrics at these tempos will very quickly find their tongues firmly tangled.
Indeed, the lyrics fly past at such a pace that it's seldom possible to grasp the meaning of what is being said. However, that may not be the point. The listener should be able to pick out key words and phrases and occasionally outrageous rhymes and conclude this is not for comprehension, it's for fun.
Manhattan Transfer's founder, Tim Hauser, introduced the second quartet, New York Voices. The group is patterned after Transfer but is a bit more relaxed in much of its repertoire. It captured the audience immediately with a version of the Goodman classic "Sing, Sing, Sing" and followed with Walter Donaldson's torch song "Love Me or Leave Me." After a brief intermission both quartets joined forces on a rollicking version of Basie's "Tickle Toe."
Then the guy everyone had turned out to see, Jon Hendricks, came on stage. He chatted, he sang scat, he became part of the two groups, but mostly, he recalled the glory days of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. He inspired chuckles with "Gimme That Wine" and awe with the breakneck tempos of the Ellington band's "Cotton Tail" and the closer, "Birdland."
But perhaps most remarkable of all is the fact that he's still performing, teaching, writing and traveling the world at age 91. What a remarkable legacy. Read more.
January 18, 2013
A vocal jazz photo for the ages
The members of Manhattan Transfer and New York Voices with the man himself Jon Hendricks after their show last night. From left:- Lauren Kinhan, Kim Nazarian, Peter Eldridge, Cheryl Bentyne, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, Tim Hauser and Darmon Meader.
January 17, 2013
London A Cappella Festival 2013
Looks like the upcoming London A Cappella Festival is almost all sold out. It comes as no surprise it is so popular with top groups as The Magnets, Rajaton, The King’s Singers as well as festival hosts the Swingle Singers, who will be kicking off their 50th anniversary celebrations. Choir of Clare College Cambridge, Danish vocal innovators Postyr, and Canadian favorites Retrocity will also be performing along with a series of workshops, foyer performances, talks and interactive events throughout the festival.
I'd so love to be at this show tonight! Manhattan Transfer, New York Voices and Jon Hendricks performing a show called Jazz Roots: Vocalese at the Smith Center in Las Vegas. There will be some cool jazz scats going on this night!
January 16, 2013
Six in Sixth Year of Singing Six Times Weekly
1990 Harmony Sweeps National Champs The Knudsen Brothers later changed their name to Six and are now in their sixth year in Branson where they perform six shows a week. They have just launched a new web site for their show which is quite the spectacle. They have been performing since they were kids and have always stayed very busy even before this Branson run. It makes me think that perhaps they have performed more a cappella shows than any other group ever.
January 15, 2013
Yet another new Pentatonix video
With such a busy touring schedule how does Pentatonix find the time to arrange and create these videos so frequently. Lucky us plus they certainly appear to be having a grand old time to boot.
January 11, 2013
Singing for Their Supper
New York Times
During my brief tenure as a member of one of the nation’s oldest a cappella groups, the Whiffenpoofs of Yale, I learned a shortcut. I call it fakeappella. You keep your mouth very liquid, and when you get to a note and lyric that you are entirely sure of, you do to that note and lyric what a flame thrower would do to a piece of Kleenex.
So, at several points while singing at the tavern-like Mory’s — the private dining association in New Haven where the group has sung most Monday nights since 1909 — I mouthed, I emoted. A handful of middle-aged Yalie diners in the audience stared back at me placidly, none the wiser. Fakeappella is like singing along to “You’re So Vain” in the car and glossing over whether the dreams that Carly Simon had were “clouds in her coffee, clouds in her coffee” or “clowns in her coffee, clowns in her coffee.” Read more.
January 10, 2013
The Hobbit - a cappella
One man a cappella band Peter Hollens releases his latest viral video clip of Misty Mountain from the new Hobbit movie.
January 7, 2013
Special value of choral speaking
New Straight Times (Malaysia):
It has been seen as a means of improving spoken English. It is the art of using a number of voices in unison to produce a piece of poetry or prose that highlights, through performance, the images and the mood that the writer of the piece envisaged.
Today, a number of schools in Johor take part in choral-speaking competitions.
These schools first participate in the zone or district levels before proceeding to the state level. Success at the state level will lead to competition at the national level, where participants will face the creme de la crème from different states. Becoming national champion is no easy task, and is the dream of every school to get to that pinnacle.
I know it is not easy training a group of students for a choral speaking competition. Teachers should bear in mind that, to become champions, the development of group cooperation in achieving the end result is an essential part of choral speaking and should be regularly highlighted to the students.
Teachers must stress to them the need to connect with the audience. Choral speaking is not about speaking to oneself. Enunciation and voice projection must be clear. Besides, performers have to be passionate and enthusiastic. Furthermore, they must not sway their bodies as their faces must come alive
I had never thought about how useful such a method could be.