On March 25 at 4:40 p.m. PT/7:40 p.m. ET, Yahoo Live will live stream The Sing Off Live Tour from the Louisville Palace in Louisville, KY. Tune in HERE to watch!
It's difficult to explain why a gorgeous singing voice can resonate with us on such a deep, emotional level and induce goose bumps in even the most jaded of music critics. This is something that The Sing-Off has illustrated time and again. The a cappella performances on the popular NBC music competition series frequently bring audience members to their feet, and the accompanying Sing-Off Live Tour is selling out dates across the country.
"Things have been going incredibly well," the show's producer and vocal arranger Deke Sharon says of the tour. "The audiences have been amazing and the show gets so many standing ovations."
So what is it about this stripped-down style of music created without any instrumental accompaniment that's so compelling? "There's really something special about a cappella live," says Sharon. "Music is communication. Whereas instruments are wonderful and you can make all these sounds, the fact of the matter is that the human voice is the most intimate, passionate of all. And when you get people together, it amplifies. Modern a cappella fills out the entire sonic spectrum with bass and vocal drums and instrumental sounds."
The highly rated program just completed its fifth season, with host Nick Lachey and returning judges Jewel and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men joined by new judge Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy (who replaced the stellar Ben Folds).
The Sing-Off Live Tour features Season 5 finalists The Exchange, Season 2 winners Street Corner Symphony, and Season 4 winners VoicePlay, all of whom have their own unique take on a cappella and often sing the different parts so effectively, it's hard to believe that no instrumentation is used.
"VoicePlay from Orlando is very theatrical and playful," says Sharon. "Street Corner Symphony are southern rockers. The Exchange is an a cappella super-group that met during different seasons [of the show] and they present as a high-energy a cappella boy band."
The tour also features opening a cappella acts that are local to the different regions in which the concerts take place. "Every different country and region around America has its own unique style," says Sharon, who also serves as music director for the Pitch Perfect musical comedy films. "You hear that in The Sing-Off Tour…we like to have a different local group from the region so people can find groups near them that they can go and see."
Season 5 winners The Melodores are also opening select dates of the tour, but because they are students at Vanderbilt University, their rigorous academic schedule doesn't allow them to perform at all 56 dates. It's fitting that a college group took home the prize in Season 5, as a cappella singing has been a part of the university tradition for decades. Sharon explains that initially it was a fairly formal affair with glee clubs that wore black ties and white gloves. Over time it evolved to incorporate a variety of musical styles including doo-wop, barbershop and contemporary hits.
Sharon, who's known as the father of contemporary a cappella and has been one of its biggest advocates, says that when he was in college, he wanted to sing music by bands that were popular at the time. "I wanted to do pop music and go to Tower Records pick up latest songs by U2 and Peter Gabriel and Duran Duran and Pink Floyd," he explains. "You couldn’t use traditional a cappella [techniques to sing songs by those groups] so I started using voices to mimic and fill out the sound so it sounded like a rock band. We sang 14-part harmony."
This goes a long way to explain the modern style of a cappella showcased on The Sing-Off, which features the groups' impressive all-vocal takes on contemporary hits by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Pharrell Williams. Sure, the theatrics might be cheesy at times, but what's not to like?