Robert Dietz is a Renaissance man of the a cappella community – a clinician, a producer, a composer and an arranger, all at the same time.
He has worked hard to establish himself as one of the most trusted and respected consultants in a cappella. Much of his work in that vein is done through Human Feedback Productions, but he has also served as a vocal coach and arranger for the third season of NBC’s “The Sing-Off.” He additionally writes educational articles for the official website of the Contemporary A cappella Society of America, after spending years offering his insight as a reviewer for the Recorded A cappella Review Board.
Dietz is also an accomplished performer, whose beatboxing skills rival some of the best in the business – good enough for the fictional Dalton Warblers on Fox’s hit show “Glee,” anyway. But even before working his way up to providing rhythmic support for fabricated- but still internationally renowned – a cappella groups, Dietz was active in performing. He started in his high school quintet, Ascending Height, then sang with and ultimately lead Ithaca College’s all-male a cappella group, Ithacappella.
His expertise and natural talents helped the group reach new levels, both onstage (when they advanced twice to the finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A cappella under his direction) and in the studio (by producing the group’s Contemporary A cappella Recording Award-nominated album “Breakdown!”).
Dietz’s interest in a cappella was piqued at age 15, thanks to a rather serendipitous musical introduction courtesy of a former educator.
“My middle school choir teacher introduced me to a local, five-guy group called ‘Sons of Pitches,’ who were really big in Ithaca, N.Y. for a couple years,” he told A Cappella Records. “I went to one of their concerts and got totally hooked. Somewhere between ages of 14 and 15, I started my first group (also a male quintet) and then started arranging for that.”
He added, “Around that time I also discovered the RARB message board, and made it my mission to use that resource learn from the best. I actually remember asking my parents for permission to join CASA – I must have been 15 at the time!”
Since then, he has dedicated himself to becoming one the resources toward which future generations can look – which is part of the reason why he has teamed up with Ben Bram and Pentatonix’s bass Avi Kaplan to create the A Cappella Academy, a summer camp for high school a cappella musicians that is set to open in 2014.
“I hope that working with the camp will give me the opportunity to use all of my experiences and resources to help give up and coming a cappella artists an awesome educational experience that will allow their lives to be enriched by a cappella as much as mine has been,” he explained.
Wherever he goes in his already successful, prolific career, two things are certain. First, that he will take his love of and passion for a cappella with him, and his appreciation for the intangible wonder of voices singing and working in harmony. And second, that the loss of a beloved family member will continually inspire him to use his abilities and dedication toward enriching the lives and musical careers of others.
“For a long time my goals were very much about my own advancement as an artist, but then the experience of losing my mom to cancer in September of 2012 really shifted my perspective in a big way,” he told ACR. “In the time I spent reflecting after her death, I realized that a big part of what I want to contribute to the world isn’t just great music, but a legacy of helping others as well. “