By Gabriela Laracca
On Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Schaeffer Auditorium, KU Presents! featured Vocalosity, a live-concert, acapella group produced by Deke Sharon, artistic producer of both Pitch Perfect and The Sing-Off. The performance was, as they described, “the aca-perfect concert experience.”
Opening for Vocalosity was an acapella quartet called ‘Round Midnight which featured the vocal talents of Wayne Grimmer (lead,) Larry Bomback (tenor,) T.J. Carollo (baritone) and Jeff Glemboski (bass.) The group is a seven-time Semi-Finalist in the Barbershop Harmony Society International Quartet Contest. They are also past BHS Mid-Atlantic District Quartet champions. Their act was a cover of Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You under My Skin.”
Upon ‘Round Midnight’s exit, Vocalosity singers took center stage to kick off their night of vibrant performances. Their first performance was a cover of Michael Jackson’s, “Wanna be Startin’ Something.”
After the group introduced themselves, they continued on to perform a two-part, entirely acapella concert featuring both old and new hits of all different genres with their own, added twists. One performance that displayed Vocalosity’s added twist on musical favorites was an involved mash-up of hits by The Beatles including “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Let it Be,” “Ticket to Ride” and many more. A few modern hits performed after the mash-up were “Shut up and Dance” by Walk the Moon and “Locked out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars.
Later in the first act, the vocalists performed a ballot of Motown favorites including “Isn’t She Lovely?” by Stevie Wonder, “My Girl” by The Temptations, “My Guy” by Mary Wells and others. The performance, according to the group, was supposed to follow the steps of love and relationships through song.
Throughout the concert, the vocalists even got the audience involved. Towards the end of the first act, they had each section of the audience in charge of repeating different acapella sounds- at the end, they had the different audience sectors sound off to create their own acapella song.
KU Presents! members were hyped about this singer/audience interaction. “We were very excited [about] all the energy and enthusiasm from the audience,” said Robin Zaremski, director of KU Presents!. “We thought it was a very interactive show.”
Following this interactive act, the lights came on for intermission. Snacks and refreshments were served in the lobby where an added bonus-show was being presented by the KU Kutztones, a student-run acapella group.
Patrick Weidman, KU junior and member of the Kutztones, claimed the group is doing very well and is looking forward to their next concert on April 30.
The next act following intermission pumped the audience up even more with a beat-box battle between the singers. Even the lights-guy got involved, all the way in the back of the audience, where he got his own spot-light to debut his beat-boxing talent.
What surprised the audience even more so was the group’s performance of an all-time, Rock ‘n’ Roll favorite, “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin.
Each group member took charge of vocalizing different instruments within the song while Amy Whitcomb (soprano) took lead with vocals.
This piece even had the dads in the audience cheering. Donny Sopko, a Trexlertown local and father of two toddlers, was brought to the event by his wife and children. “Of all things, I never expected Zeppelin,” said Sopko. “It was insane, I never thought I, of all people, would have actually enjoyed an acapella concert.”
After some more vocal performances, the concert took a personal turn. Several members of Vocalosity revealed life struggles they faced in the past and how music helped them overcome them. These members included Cheeyang Ng (tenor) with his experience of being bullied for being homosexual and different, Nattalyee Randall with her previous struggles with alcohol addiction and Nicole Weiss with her depression and insecurity caused by a judgmental and discouraging voice-lesson instructor as a child. This personal session made audience members feel inspired and closer with their entertainers.
Randall further revealed that due to her previous alcohol addiction and party-girl life-style, she lost her true voice. “If you want to make sure that you go forward and your voice stays intact, you’ve got to take care of yourself,” she said. “There’s only one you and once you ruin it, a lot of times it can’t be fixed.” Fortunately for Randall and thanks to her love of music, she helped herself before this problem became permanent.
Gerianne Pérez (alto) also recommended to “make singing a part of your life because a love of music is one of those things that can transform anything in your life.”
The last song performed by the group was “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna which ironically seemed to represent the audience’s consensus through cheers and final applause.
The overall performance was inspirational to attendees, especially aspiring singers. “Everyone can sing, everyone should sing, we’re like birds,” said Sharon. “We have a desire to sing- it’s inside of us.”
For more information on Vocalosity, visit their website at vocalosityontour.com.