A Cappella Summit joins voices in harmony
November 17, 1997
Web posted at: 4:22 p.m. EST (2122 GMT)
From Correspondent Rusty Dornin
SAN RAFAEL, California (CNN) -- If classical music is your
true love, the phrase "a cappella" might bring to mind the
high, airy voices of the Vienna Boys Choir. If modern music
is more your speed, maybe you think of "Don't Worry, Be
Happy" songwriter Bobby McFerrin.
The two styles may have different audiences, but they
harmonized together at the West Coast A Cappella Summit this
"When a lot of people think of a cappella music, they think
of just choral music or doo-wop or barber shop. But
actually, every style of music you'll hear -- jazz, reggae,
pop, rock, classical," said Deke Sharon, an a cappella singer
and member of the Contemporary A Cappella Society.
In a cappella, a style of music where the voice is the only
instrument, singers might sing words without accompaniment,
or they might imitate the percussion and horns that they left
by the wayside.
"It's just kind of a magic thing that happens," said Brian
Lance of the Blenders. "It's just pure vocals, it's just
pure and raw."
Now that the a cappella movement has grown beyond barbershop,
audiences are growing as well. The style even has its own
record label -- Primarily A Cappella. Don Gooding, the
label's founder, said he had about 1,000 customers at the
beginning. Five years later, they have about 20,000.
A cappella fan Taherera Smith applauded the genre's full
range, from the chants of quiet minor melodies to
foot-stompers. "It's really caught on over the years, and I
only think it's going to grow," she said.
Sharon agreed. "With most instrumental music, people sit
back and watch. But with a cappella concerts, everybody's
always singing, they're clapping, humming along. That's the
wonderful thing with this kind of music is that everybody
gets to share in it," he said.
Gooding took a more simple view: "This is the most fun you
can have legally while singing."