February 25, 2014
Oldest a cappella singer ever dies
New York Times:
Maria Franziska von Trapp, the last surviving sibling of seven brothers and sisters who were portrayed in the Broadway musical and the film “The Sound of Music,” died on Tuesday at her home in Stowe, Vt. She was 99. Her death was confirmed by her half-brother, Johannes von Trapp.
She was the third oldest child of seven born to Baron Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe, who died of scarlet fever. The 1965 film was based on the real story of how the baron fell in love with the children’s governess, also named Maria, and the family toured together as a choir.
Maria Franziska von Trapp was born on Sept. 28, 1914 in Zell am See, Austria. In addition to touring with the family choir, she worked as a lay missionary in Papua New Guinea. She adopted a son, Kikuli Mwanukuzi, after meeting him there. She eventually moved back to Vermont to be close to family. She is survived by her son and three half-siblings: Mr. von Trapp, Rosmarie Trapp and Eleonore von Trapp Campbell.
The Von Trapp family usually sang a cappella and the recording of theirs we carry are all unaccompanied.
February 19, 2014
A cappella on the Tonight Show
Jimmy Fallon has a star-studded line up for this first week of his hosting the Tonight Show but it's good to know he still found room for his barbershop quartet the Ragtime Gals. On Tuesday they performed the R. Kelly classic "Ignition".
February 3, 2014
Singing 'grandmas' to perform at Sochi Olympics
A group of singing Russian babushki — or grandmothers — who perform Beatles hits and cultural songs will be one of the headline acts at the Sochi 2014 Cultural Olympiad.
The band of eight women called Buranovskiye Babushki gained a worldwide following when they finished second in the 2012 Eurovision song contest in Baku, Azerbaijan. The women are aged 45 to 78, but most are in their 70s.
Although the group’s name means grannies, some are mothers, some are grandmothers and some are great-grandmothers.
Dressed in traditional red outfits, silver jewellery and headscarves, the all-singing, all-dancing babushki perform most of their songs in the Udmurt language of the region, with some sections in English. They started performing to raise money to refurbish a church in their village.
February 1, 2014
Conspiracy of Beards band together
Marin Independent Journal (CA):
Before he died of AIDS in 2001, multimedia artist Peter Kadyk had a dream about a choir of men singing Leonard Cohen songs a cappella. He wrote in his journal that they should be called the Conspiracy of Beards.
Fourteen years later, his dream will be onstage at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley on Feb. 7 in the form of a 30-voice male choir devoted to the celebrated singer-songwriter-poet's music. They are believed to be the only choir on the planet that performs Cohen's songs exclusively.
Kadyk, who was 32 when he died, never got to hear the choir himself. But, at the behest of his wife, Anah, a group of 11 of his friends got together and sang a few Cohen songs as a tribute to him at an event in 2003.
That was meant to be a one-off performance, but it led to an invitation to sing at famed City Lights Bookstore in North Beach.
"And it snowballed from there," said 38-year-old Clay Eugene Smith, who joined the choir three years ago and now serves as its publicist.
Four of the original members are still in the choir, including 61-year-old Peter Whitehead, one of a handful of professional musicians in the group. He became a fan of Cohen's when he was 18, and his admiration for the now 79-year-old icon has never flagged.
"I think his words are incredible," he said. "I've always been fascinated by the mood of his songs, and he's one of the few songwriters of his generation who've really lasted, writing material that's timeless."
Over the past 11 years, something like 100 men have passed through the choir, not all of them bearded. Members range in age from their 20s to their 60s. The majority are amateurs with day jobs and varying degrees of musical experience. Read more.