There isn’t a soothsayer alive who could have predicted the surprising rise of a capella music. Once upon a time, you could only find choral groups in micro-niche markets, inside barbershops or the exclusive walls of Ivy League socials. Today, it’s aca-everywhere and you have one man to thank.
Deke Sharon is sometimes called the father of modern a capella but the title is a little modest. He’s really the Godfather, without whom we might have never known the rapturous joy of the Pitch Perfect movies, the addictive Lifetime series Pitch Slapped, or NBC’s The Voice. His latest project is Vocalosity, a super-group of vocal wunderkinds who will be right here on March 2.
Sharon sang in the Tufts University Beelzebubs, but after graduation found virtually no opportunity for a capella advancement. “Back then you said the word a capella to someone they probably had no idea what you were saying,” Sharon says. “The best way to explain it to people was to have them hear it… and once they did, it caught on like wildfire.” Sharon co-founded the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competition, a now-heated rivalry between universities which was famously portrayed in the Pitch Perfect films.
Since the beginning, Sharon has had one mission in mind: To get more people singing. “If you go back a couple of generations, everybody made music,” he says. “Then recorded music came along and our western educational system cut music in the schools. Then American Idol started making fun of people who aren’t great singers and the end result is that people are in hiding.” Listening to Sharon’s vision, you can’t help but vicariously experience his passion for bringing the pure bliss of harmonies, melodies and performance into our everyday lives to “warm even the most Grinch-like heart.”
Now, audiences in DFW can take their a capella adoration up a level at the live Vocalosity show presented by the Center and the Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts and Letters Live. As the choral ensemble gears up for their world tour, Sharon attended one of the inaugural Vocalosity performances solely to watch the audience’s reactions to the group. “There were multiple standing ovations. I mean, it was everything I’d hoped and more.”
In fact, Sharon is surprised that a capella has taken off through movies and television, because the power of the genre lives in the moment. “Honestly, it’s in the room that the magic happens,” he says. Part of Vocalosity’s lure lies in the incredibly diverse ensemble, comprised of Broadway stars and beatboxing icons, gospel singers and stars from The Voice. No matter their background, they share a penchant for superhuman vocal sounds and beats, creating a giant sound unique to a capella.
Despite the star-power in the group, Sharon’s populist approach to music seems to have seeped into the tour’s personality. After the show, the members of Vocalosity (and Sharon himself) will stick around to personally greet audience members and fans. They’ll also be bringing information to help people find a local a capella group to get involved with, though you can always visit Sharon’s education site commissioned by Google if you’d like to learn more. From beginning to end, Sharon has created the opportunity for people to indulge in an artistic experience that is unabashedly fun, contagiously enthusiastic and overtly positive. Perhaps he said it best: “A capella breaks down all barriers and reaches in and grabs your heart.”
Buy your tickets today, as they’re sure to sell out quickly.