February 28, 2013
Dapper Dans hit boy-band land
Orlando Sentinel (FL):
Barbershop meets boy band in this week's edition of Limited Time Magic, the yearlong series of special events at Disney World.
The Dapper Dans, an a cappella quartet that has been at Magic Kingdom since its opening in 1971, are performing a medley of hits retrofitted in their barbershop style. I saw a preview of the numbers a couple of months ago, and although it's initially jarring to hear a verse of 'N Sync's "Bye, Bye, Bye" in throwback style, ultimately it's entertaining.
I chatted last week with Myron Whittlesey, 32, who has performed with the group since 2005, about the boy-band phase and about the Dans in general. They were told about this Limited Time event in October, and, at first, he wasn't sure how that might sound, he says.
"With my experience with barbershop, some things have worked before which maybe I thought wouldn't — but I was definitely curious to see how it would fit together … with the style of barbershop harmony and the boy-band tunes that we're actually doing," he says.
The Dans performed the medley a few times before this week, including at a Disney announcement in New York City and before a gathering of international media at Walt Disney World in December.
"Every time that we've gone through that song, the folks have kind of been on the edge of their seat like, 'OK, what song are they going to do now?'" he says. "As soon as they recognize it, it's been reactions of 'Oh, this is cool' or laughter — but not necessarily making-fun-of laughter, more of appreciating what we're doing with it, basically."
A relatively recent modernization helps spread the Dapper Dan joy on Main Street. In late 2010, group members started wearing lavaliere microphones on their striped lapels. Their voices are amplified through speakers. Read more.
The four current Dapper Dans at Magic Kingdom are Myron Whittlesey (clockwise from top right), Kevin Souppa, Ken Thiboult and Chad Bennett
February 23, 2013
DreamWorks Planning Movie About A Cappella Group
The story of a cappella group Straight No Chaser is heading to the big screen. DreamWorks has picked up a pitch named after the group, with Jack Amiel and Michael Begler attached to write and Michael Sucsy, who most recently directed The Vow, attached to helm.
The movie idea germinated when Sugar met with Kallman, who told him the story. The Anonymous men liked the idea of having a second chance to live out your dreams and thought the story could make for an inspirational movie.
Anonymous, which is producing the currently shooting WikiLeaks movie The Fifth Estate for DreamWorks, brought the package to the company last week, which preemptively took it off the table.
Amiel and Berger wrote Big Miracle, the Drew Barrymore whale drama released by Universal in 2012 and also co-produced by Anonymous. Other credits include The Shaggy Dog and Raising Helen. The duo is repped by WME and Anonymous.
Sucsy broke through when he co-wrote and directed HBO’s acclaimed Grey Gardens, which won six Emmys and two Golden Globes. Vow, which starred Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, grossed $125 million domestically last year. He is repped by CAA, Anonymous and Bloom Hergott.
Anonymous Content's Michael Sugar and Bard Dorros are producing along with Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman. Read more.
February 22, 2013
Pentatonix in perfect pitch
Boston Herald (MA):
A cappella has graduated from fad to phenomenon. A decade ago, a few college music geeks in matching sweaters made up the a cappella scene. Today, the genre is blockbuster entertainment: The film “Pitch Perfect” topped $100 million at the box office, vocal group Straight No Chaser sells out 3,000-seat venues, the NBC a cappella contest “The Sing-Off” ran for three seasons and spun off versions in China, France and the Netherlands.
But Pentatonix aims to be a cappella’s first superstars: The quintet’s House of Blues show on Sunday has been sold out for weeks.
“Out of everything we’ve accomplished, what I’m most proud of is debuting at No. 14 in the Billboard 200 with our EP,” singer Scott Hoying said from Los Angeles. “To be on the charts with Rihanna and Adele is the closest we’ve come to breaking through.”
Most TV singing competition champions flop after a year or two. But since winning season three of “The Sing-Off” in 2011, Pentatonix has slowly, methodically built a sizable cult. In the past year, the group racked up 200,000 Facebook fans, 70,000 Twitter followers and 50 million YouTube views. Read more.
February 19, 2013
Dolly a cappella
I never thought I would be posting a picture of the great Dolly Parton on this blog but it has just been announced she will be singing a cappella on a track of the new Straight No Chaser recording "Under The Influence" due out in May. Not only that but Seal, Jason Mraz and Phil Collins will also be contributing with the first single "I Want You Back", the Jackson 5 classic, featuring the lovely Sara Bareilles. Pretty impressive line up there guys!
February 15, 2013
Sweet Adeline rock star
I just learned that Neyla Pekarek of the indie art-folk band The Lumineers was (is) a Sweet Adeline singer whose quartet Vogue won the organization’s Rising Star competition in 2009. The Lumineers just performed at the Grammys, have a number 1 hit and are currently on a sold out world tour. Keep singing ladies you never know where it may take you.
February 12, 2013
A cappella singer dies after venue accident
Daily Mail (UK):
A singer with a shanty sea group has died in hospital after a metal door fell on him and killed the band's promoter in a freak accident at a concert venue. Fisherman’s Friends singer Trevor Grills, 54, is believed to have been unloading gear for a gig with promoter Paul McMullen when the tragedy occurred at G Live in Guildford, Surrey, on Saturday morning.
Mr McMullen, 44, suffered serious leg injuries and was treated by paramedics but died at the scene. Mr Grills was rushed to St George’s Hospital, Tooting, South London, with serious head injuries but died in hospital last night. In a statement, the band paid tribute to Mr Grills as 'a much-loved and valued friend'. A spokesman added: 'We are all devastated'.
Saturday night’s concert by the ten-piece Cornwall-based act, who sang When The Boat Comes In for a Young’s seafood advert on TV, was cancelled. The Health and Safety Executive has been informed of the tragedy. It is believed the nine singers not involved in the accident have returned home to north Cornwall.
In a statement today, the Port Isaac singers said: 'The Fisherman’s Friends announce with great sadness that their friend and fellow band member Trevor Grills passed away last night as a result of severe head injuries inflicted during an accident on Saturday February 9.
'Trevor was a much-loved and valued friend to all of us and was an integral part of the Port Isaac community. He will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with Trevor’s family at this very difficult time.'
February 11, 2013
Grammy win again for Charles Bruffy.
Congratulations once again to Charles Bruffy and the Kansas City Chorale for their Grammy win last night for "Life and Breath - Choral Works by Rene Clausen" in the Best Choral Performance category.
February 6, 2013
Sweet Honey In The Rock to bid farewell to Dr. Ysaye Barnwell
Sweet Honey In The Rock, the venerable and Grammy Award-nominated a cappella ensemble that is currently celebrating its' 39th performance season will bid farewell to one of its' most tenured and revered member's Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell, when she officially exits the group the at end of May this year to pursue several of her own career endeavors.
Barnwell's inimitable and distinctive bass tones were added to the DC based a cappella quartet in 1979 after being scouted and invited by the ensemble's founder/ creator Dr. Bernice Reagon. Reagon (who retired in 2004) formed the group in 1973 along with Louise Robinson, Carol Maillard and Mie, while teaching a vocal workshop at the legendary D.C. Black Repertory Theatre Company. Both Maillard and Robinson took a sabbatical from the group in 1976, returning in1992 and 2004, respectively. The current line-up comprises Maillard, Barnwell, Robinson, Aisha Kahlil (who joined in 1981), Nitanju Bolade Casel (who joined in 1985) and Shirley Childress Saxton, an American Sign Language interpreter who has been performing ASL with the group since 1981.
"We are very sad to see Ysaye go, " says Carol Maillard, "but we know she's embarking on a wonderful world of projects and accomplishments that she'll undoubtedly achieve. She will always be a part of us and who knows when we might see her on the Sweet Honey stage again!"
"I have loved and deeply appreciated being a part of and contributing to the ensemble and legacy of Sweet Honey over the past 34 years, " stated Barnwell. Read more.
February 5, 2013
Take 6 meets the President
February 1, 2013
Bobby McFerrin master class on HBO
Bobby McFerrin: A YoungArts MasterClass, is set to premiere on HBO on February 12. It is the second episode of the second season of the acclaimed Emmy-nominated program, which presents world-class creative artists who share their art and life experiences with small groups of young artists who represent a new generation of American talent. Above is a trailer for the show.