September 17, 2014

Inside Pentatonix, 'Pitch Perfect' and the Pop Culture Phenomenon of A Cappella Music

Hollywood Reporter:

Alongside needle-moving, genre-defying priority releases on the RCA Records slate — Sia's 1000 Forms of Fear and "Weird Al" Yankovic's Mandatory Fun among them — is the new album by Pentatonix, highlighting one of the oldest musical forms: a cappella vocals.

But before you cry "Gregorian chant," don't call it a fad: Pentatonix — an electro-infused five-piece that formed for NBC's The Sing-Off in 2011 (and won) and cut its teeth on cover songs before graduating to instrument-less videos of Lorde and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hits, original songs and brand alignments with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Oreo — has collected more than 520 million cumulative YouTube views and boasts more subscribers than Avicii and Beyonce. So for the group's major-label debut, PTX Vol. 3, on Sept. 23, "we expect it to be a pull, not a push," says RCA president/COO Tom Corson. Industry sources predict an opening week of 50,000-plus units (the act has sold 475,000 albums and 1.5 million downloads to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan), which should be good for a top 10 debut on the Billboard 200.

Read more.

Posted by John at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2014

The Sing-Off is back! Auditions announced

Great news! The Sing-Off is back for season 5 and auditions are upcoming in the following cities. No further info as yet regarding returning judges etc. but we will post news here as it becomes available.

Los Angeles, CA - September 30, 2014
3407 Winona Ave
Burbank, CA 91504

Nashville, TN - October 2, 2014
1101 Cherry Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203

New York, NY - October 4, 2014
520 W 25th St. (b/n 10th & 11th Ave)
New York, NY 10001

Posted by John at 2:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2014

An interview with Bob Gaudio

It made for a nice drive home today with an interesting interview on the radio with Bob Gaudio of the original Four Seasons by Fresh Air's Terry Gross. In addition to singing, Gaudio wrote or co-wrote most of The Four Seasons' hits, including "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Bye Bye Baby" and "Rag Doll." He also wrote the Frankie Valli solo hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You."

He talks a lot about harmony and their contemporaries such as The Hi-Lo's and Four Freshmen. Gaudio is very entertaining and tells some interesting stories such as their dealings with the mob. Read more.

Posted by John at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon

At the big hoopla Apple media event today Tim Cook introduced an ad for the new iPhone 6 featuring Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon singing a cappella. Apple makes great products, not so sure about their ads..

Posted by John at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2014

Office Workers Who Sing Together Are Healthier


It’s Tuesday lunchtime at the Birmingham headquarters of Wragge Lawrence Graham, a law firm. But instead of heading out for errands or ignoring the lunch break altogether, solicitors and support staff gather – to sing. “The choir helps you get to know people at the company who you wouldn’t ordinarily meet,” explains Rob Bridgman, a young lawyer who conducts the three-year-old choir. “You meet people from other legal teams, the IT department, the business development department.”

Wragge’s London office has launched a choir of its own; the staff have opted for 8am rehearsals. “Music-making in the office gives people a chance to be themselves at work, and it doesn’t take time away from the family,” says Lorna Gavin, head of corporate responsibility.

London, long a choral capital, is setting the tone with law firms, banks, accountancy firms, tech firms, even cosmetics giant L’Oréal now featuring company-supported choirs. A number have set up Google-style music rooms, and some even offer music lessons during the workday.

“When we started 14 years ago, office music was an odd thing,” recalls Howard Charles, whose firm, City Music Services, helps corporations run choirs and provides conductors and instrumental teachers. “Today I hardly need to make a sell at all. It’s a huge shift. Companies are focusing a lot on staff engagement now, and music is relatively low-cost and brings a hugely diverse group of people together.” The Choir: Sing While You Work, a recent BBC television show in which conductor Gareth Malone helped offices launch choirs, has helped boost interest as well.

Read more.

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August 26, 2014

These Israeli and Palestinian Kids Would Rather Sing Than Fight

Mother Jones:

They come to the Jerusalem Youth Chorus from as far away as Ramallah (a Palestinian outlook in the occupied West Bank) and a moshav (a Jewish settlement) outside of Jerusalem. They speak Arabic, Hebrew, and often a bit of English. They are five tenors, eight sopranos, six altos, and seven basses. They are 13 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, all high school students. Some are friends of friends with Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, the Israeli teens whose kidnapping and killing sparked the latest round of clashes; others grew up around the corner from Muhammad Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy who was murdered in the wake of those kidnappings.

For the past two years, the chorus—the only mixed Israeli-Palestinian choral group in the Holy City—has met weekly in Jerusalem to sing at the international YMCA, one of the few places Arabs and Jews can meet comfortably. This summer, they've rehearsed several times a week—despite the rocket launches and airstrikes—in a flurry of preparations for their first international singing tour. It took them last week to Kyoto and Tokyo, where they could enjoy a break from the troubles at home.

Read more.

Such a heart-warming story. If only there were thousands more such choruses..

Posted by John at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2014

How to sing for your supper on YouTube


Ten years ago, Oregon-based a cappella singer Peter Hollens was a self-described “pasta boy,” working for a catering company making fresh noodles, when he vowed never to make another penny from anything other than music. Earlier this month, he signed a deal with Sony Music Masterworks, which is scheduled to release his debut album on Portrait Records imprint on Oct. 28.

While his #1 source revenue stream is iTunes, #2 Loudr offers better rev split, as well as additional services.

In the old days, before internet piracy capsized the music industry, this would have been a major rite of passage for a musician, if not the culmination of a dream. But Hollens says, “it’s just another step.” That’s because he hadn’t been waiting around for a record company to bring him money, media exposure and stardom. He’d already done it by harnessing the YouTube ecosystem.

Read more.

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August 22, 2014


Edinburgh Reporter (UK):

There are some things in life that are horrifically tricky to master, yet impressive to behold once mastered: poaching an egg, juggling, speaking foreign languages, writing a decent review… A cappella singing is right at the top of this list.

The release of teen comedy Pitch Perfect in 2012 and the continued success of US drama Glee have brought a cappella back into the spotlight and updated its image from one of tired barbershop quartets to a modern, edgy medium, one that young people are excited to be involved in. All The King’s Men are at the forefront of this revolution. Named in 2012 as the best university a cappella group in the UK, they celebrate their sixth birthday this year and are stronger than ever, counting amongst their patrons Paul Phoenix of The King’s Singers and Michelle Carlin of Sydney University

Opening with a lively mix of Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be“, from the very beginning the group showcased where their strengths lie. Whilst the treble of Ben Taylor-Davies was clear and well-controlled in their first number, it was sometimes obscured by the power of the group as a whole.

Read more.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has presented numerous a cappella groups in recent years and is one of the best showcases in the UK.

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August 13, 2014

Elvis A Cappella: A Tribute To The King

Now we know for sure that a cappella has made the big time. This week Graceland is presenting "Elvis A Cappella: A Tribute To The King", a sixty minute show on the main stage featuring Kentucky's Acoustikats, Florida State University's All-Night Yahtzee, The James Madison University BluesTones, The Vanderbilt Melodores, and Memphis' own Briarcrest OneVoice. More info here.

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August 11, 2014

Robin Williams a cappella

Sad news indeed today with the passing of the great Robin Williams. This clip of him performing with Bobby McFerrin and Bill Irwin in the original 1988 video for "Don't Worry Be Happy" will hopefully cheer you up!

Posted by John at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2014

How Ladysmith Black Mambazo turned into ballet dancers

The Guardian (UK):

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the veteran South African singing group, have collaborated with half the known music world – everyone from Stevie Wonder to Dolly Parton to, most famously, Paul Simon on his classic 1988 album Graceland. But this year, the choir may be performing the most extraordinary project of their 50-year career: a contemporary dance production called Inala in which they not only sing the 15 or so new songs woven into its score, but also dance alongside its cast of classical and contemporary dancers.

The seed was sown five years ago, when two young British women went to watch LBM, as they're widely known, during a UK tour. Ella Spira, a composer, had loved them since childhood. The history of oppression and suffering embodied in their lyrics, as well as the haunting harmonic textures of their music (derived from migrant Zulu workers), had always moved her. "It's that wall of sound they make," she says. "It just hits you here, in your chest."

Her friend Pietra Mello-Pittman, a dancer with the Royal Ballet, was equally overwhelmed by LBM's music, but found the production values of their performance surprisingly old-fashioned. "I suppose I've got used to the fabulous spectacle we put on at the [Royal] Opera House. But the show's visuals looked to me as though they hadn't changed in 50 years. That made me think how fantastic it would be to create some kind of ballet around the Ladysmiths and have Ella compose the score."

Read more.

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