No Speed Limit for Vocal Rush

In May 2012, YouTube star and ACR artist Peter Hollens held a contest. The goal was to record the best cover video of Hollens’ “Not Over You” (opb Gavin DeGraw), and the prize was a professionally recorded and produced track and accompanying music video of the winner’s choosing, as well as distribution through ACR.

A talented group of high school students from Oakland School of the Arts (OSA) jumped on the opportunity.

Led by Lisa Forkish, OSA’s Vocal Rush recently won acclaim when they captivated audiences at the 2012 ICHSA (International Championship of High School A Cappella) Finals in New York City, where they claimed an undisputed first place victory.

Of the attention the group has received from that victory, Forkish says, “The support we’ve received from the a cappella community has been so tremendous… I don’t think [the students] knew what this was going to be like. Unlike some other music sectors, a cappella people really rally behind groups and individuals that they believe in.”

When announcing Vocal Rush as the winner of the YouTube contest, Hollens applauded the group for their “musicality, solo delivery, subtleties [they] added to the arrangement, and just the overall quality of [their] performance.”

He wasn’t the last celebrity to commend the group on their accomplishments.

Last week when the group used their ICHSA prize money to travel and perform at Disneyland, they also stopped in for a workshop with singer-songwriter Kenton Chen of The Backbeats as well as 2012 ICCA Champions, The SoCal VoCals.

Little did they know they were in for a surprise from one of their favorite groups. “They were about to perform for the VoCals,” says Forkish, “when they heard the door open behind them.” 2011 Sing-Off Champions, Pentatonix, spent time with the group, singing, listening, and giving feedback. “It was really cool to see Pentatonix’s reaction to them singing.”

Vocal Rush tracked “Let Us Be Loving,” arranged by Forkish, with Alfredo Austin over Memorial Day weekend. Only a few of the members had recording experience walking into the studio. “What was really awesome was the coaching they got from Alfredo,” says Forkish. “Many of them did things they had never done before… It felt to me like the weekend was them reaching their fullest potential.”

Mixed by Ed Boyer and mastered by diovoce, the track is smooth and soulful, and sets the bar high for scholastic groups across the board – high school, collegiate, or otherwise. With a phenomenal solo by Sarah Vela, winner of the judges’ Outstanding Soloist award at ICHSA Finals, impressive vocal percussion by Kyana Fanene, winner of the judges’ Outstanding VP award at Northwest Semifinals, flawless harmonies, and an inspired groove, “Let Us Be Loving” puts Vocal Rush in a category all their own.

The music video, filmed by Leo and Carmen Da Silva, features the group members singing against a black backdrop. “The kids are that charismatic that just their faces in the camera… I didn’t coach them, the videographer didn’t coach them – they just did that! It was really exciting to watch,” recalls Forkish.

The video garnered attention from the song’s original artist, Alice Russell, who retweeted the video to her followers and stated in an email to the Da Silvas, “It is ace! Wow! Would love to come and meet the lovely voices on the a cappella version of Let Us Be Loving.”

So what’s next for Vocal Rush?

Seven of the group’s ten members graduated this month. Luckily for us, they’re not about to put down the mics.

“The professional a cappella world should keep a look-out for this alum Vocal Rush group that’s going to be the bomb,” says Forkish.

The group’s 4-track EP, “The Beginning,” which includes “Let Us Be Loving” and “Tightrope,” will be released on July 3rd. From there, Forkish says that “this is the beginning of a really long journey for Vocal Rush.”

While losing so many members can be scary for a scholastic group, Forkish, a founding member of UO’s successful all-female group Divisi, “also feel[s] the value of institutionalizing a group,” and can empathize with the concerns that the departing graduating members have. She’s confident the legacy of this year will carry on; “I know that Vocal Rush is going to be awesome next year.”

Support Vocal Rush by purchasing “Let Us Be Loving” on ACR or iTunes and checking out their video! You can learn more about OSA at http://oakarts.org.

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Help bring A Cappella home on iTunes

Three years ago, iTunes disabled the US vocal chart because there wasn’t enough music to support its continued existence. It’s time to bring it back.

Screen Shot 2012 06 13 at 5.12.59 PM Help bring A Cappella home on iTunes

http://AcaGenre.org

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Sing-Off Cancellation Sparks Online Campaign

For the past three years, NBC’s hit show The Sing-Off has consistently pulled in millions of viewers, both in the a cappella community and well beyond. Its domestic success inspired international incarnations to be born throughout Europe and Asia. Its winners – Nota, Committed and Pentatonix – have each enjoyed incredible success through large, passionate fanbases, online acclaim (on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), album sales, tours, and headline appearances at some of the community’s most revered festivals.

However, earlier this month, the network announced that it does not plan to renew the show for a fourth season.

The news was initially met with an expected amount of disappointment – fans, ambassadors of the community and past cast members from all three seasons took to social media, blogs and a cappella websites to express their frustration.

“The fact that a cappella music stands lose [around] 4.5 million viewers per week is an awful thought,” Rob Dietz wrote in a great post on the website for the Contemporary A cappella Society of America. “The fact that talent the likes of Pentatonix, Committed, and Nota will no longer have a national stage makes my stomach turn. The fact that people’s access to vocal harmony will be in any way diminished pisses me off.”

Many agreed with what Dietz had to say. But through this shared ire, something positive and, frankly, great was born – a campaign, a movement, to save The Sing-Off and bring it back for another season.

SingOffBlog Sing Off Cancellation Sparks Online Campaign

The show’s biggest names – its three celebrity judges, Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman, Sara Bareilles, as well as its host, Nick Lachey – caught on to the overwhelming national desire for a fourth season, and subsequently used the #SaveTheSingOff hashtag on their respective Twitter accounts to add visibility to the campaign. Yahoo! News even picked up the story.

In the past, efforts such as this have been successful. Fans of shows such as “Arrested Development” and “Jericho” used their strength in numbers to bring back their beloved programs for at least one more year.

But the question still remains – will fans of The Sing-Off get to see a fourth season?

Only time will tell, but for now, we will say this – the show has done wonders for a cappella as an art form. Once misunderstood and often ridiculed, The Sing-Off has given “a cappella” names and faces and memorable performances for a populace to embrace as a true representation of who we are and what it is that we do – and most important, why we love it so.

We sincerely hope The Sing-Off hasn’t taken its final bow. But if NBC turns a deaf ear to fans, we can at least collectively take solace in the knowledge that the show has forever changed the perception a cappella “outsiders” had of the community as a whole. We are not just “Glee,” or glee clubs. We are not just show choirs or chamber singers. We are not a punchline. We are none of those things, and all of those things – we are our own genre, with too many phenomenally talented groups and individuals, too many great ideas and stellar institutions, to be so easily defined. We are incredible, and no matter what happens, we will thrive, and we will be seen.

The Sing-Off has demonstrated all of that to both the nation and the world. Even if it does not continue on, no one can take away what it has already done to irrevocably push a cappella into mainstream society.

But for many, the curtain has not yet fallen on The Sing-Off, not until every effort is made to save it. So to its fans, we say keep fighting.

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The A Cappella Guide to Lady Gaga

May 22, 2012 – San Francisco, CA – A Cappella Records is thrilled to announce the first in a series of custom-made, themed compilations, called “The A Cappella Guide” series. And what better theme upon which to jump into the proverbial pit than a tribute to the monster maven of the pop world, Lady Gaga. In addition to being one of the strongest voices in pop music today (and the #1 most-followed account on Twitter!), Lady Gaga has been an unparalleled inspiration to a cappella artists all over the country, and the world.

In addition to having an entire episode of Glee dedicated to her, she’s had cover after cover of her songs go viral on YouTube. The University of Oregon’s On The Rocks landed a spot on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” AND a commercial deal for the show based on their viral cover of Bad Romance, which racked up over 7 million views and was at one time featured on the Yahoo.com homepage.

However, while the mainstream knows Lady Gaga for her wild outfits and pumped-up dance mixes, her true fans know that she can be every bit as captivating behind a piano, with just her voice and fingers providing the underpinning for her dynamic compositions. We feel that this also speaks to the hearts and souls of a cappella artists, who use nothing but their voices, layer-upon-layer, to create music in nearly every genre imaginable.

When we considered the launch theme for “The A Cappella Guide”, Gaga was the obvious choice. Her music inspires some of the best singing from some of our best artists, both collegiate and professional. In addition to On The Rocks’s legendary version of “Bad Romance”, you’ll also be treated to hits by Peter Hollens, The Red States, The UCSD Tritones, The Cocktails, and Stanford Mixed Company. And of course, no a cappella album would be complete without an epic medley, in this case performed by the UNCG Spartones and featuring no fewer than six of Gaga’s greatest in one action-packed track.

All the music on “The A Cappella Guide to Lady Gaga” has been fully licensed directly from Gaga’s publishers. In fact, all the music offered through A Cappella Records is legally cleared with the publishers of the original compositions. We strongly believe that composers deserve to be recognized fairly for their talents, just as artists deserve to be recognized fairly for theirs.

Gaga Final Cover 1024x1024 The A Cappella Guide to Lady Gaga

Download “The A Cappella Guide to Lady Gaga” here: http://acappellarecords.com/compilation/guide-to/album/lady-gaga!

To get more information on these and other spectacular a cappella artists, check out:http://www.acappellarecords.com.

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Hollens and Hoying go “Green Screen”

As promised in our post last week, a cappella solo artist Peter Hollens released the video for his latest single, a hard-and-fast take on Chris Brown’s “Turn Up The Music” performed with Pentatonix’s own Scott Hoying. When we told you it was unlike anything you had seen before, we were not lying.

The song was daring in and of itself – an imaginative and pulse-pounding take on a dance pop tune that holds true to the club feel of the original work while adding an element of musicality previous missing.

It’s the video, however, that takes fans to a whole new realm. Done entirely with a green screen, Hollens and Hoying – decked out in their “John Conner” finest – appear to have been transported to a futuristic planet where stylistically choppy visuals and ethereal fields of light (that dance on their own with the deep, thumping beat) reign supreme. We’ve never seen anything like it before from an a cappella act, but we sure hope Hollens isn’t the last to venture into this previously uncharted territory.

Turn Up The Music” is truly a wonder for both the eyes and ears to behold – see and hear for yourself below!

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