As the Sights, Sounds and Smells of Christmas gets ready to kick off its events this Friday, the events will culminate on Dec. 6 with the Christmas Tree auction and a performance by re:Voiced, a five-member male a cappella band. Tickets are available at the Convention Center for $20 a person. For re:Voiced, after performing across globe, the group is coming to Ely riding the wave of one of music’s biggest movements today.
In recent years perhaps one genre of music moved to the forefront of popular culture the most. Thanks to shows like “The Sing-Off” and “Glee,” movies like “Pitch Perfect” and more has led a resurgence in the popularity of a cappella groups – groups where there are no instruments and every sound is made by voices.
But it wasn’t always like that.
“Wait…what’s a cappella…just kidding,” Chris Rossi said. “Actually, that was the reaction that all of us would get from people before the detonation of Glee, The Sing Off, Pitch Perfect, etc. Before these televised events, motion pictures and ‘youtubers’ not many people were aware of this niche subculture of music.”
That’s no longer the case as a cappella groups have found both critical and commercial success in the music world.
“The popularity of a cappella has been a wonderful thing,” Percussionist Dele Opeifa said. “Pitch Perfect, NBC’s “The Sing Off” and other platforms have really made a cappella visible in a cool light. It makes people aware of the fact that a full evening can come out of nothing but voices. It also gives us great opportunities to reach out to young people in ways that they might have once viewed as “lame.”
The group features singers from across the country. But for Opeifa it was an act of chance that helped lead him to join the group.
“I saw three of the guys, Chris (Rossi), Johnny (Patrick) and Zakk (Wooten), perform in Branson, Missouri,” Opeifa said. “I was so impressed with them vocally, but never imagined I would ever perform with them.”
Three weeks later, Opeifa responded to a national advertisement about auditions for a professional group…featuring the same three singers. Along with Donovan Davis, the singers went through an extensive process of interviews.
In a band where all five voices must be in harmony at all times, finding the right members was key. It wasn’t long before they saw something special.
“When I was auditioning to form re:Voiced, we spent a lot of time together on the phone and on internet video chats,” Opeifa said. “It felt a little like starting an Internet dating relationship. But once we got together for our first session of rehearsals as a group, we immediately clicked like brothers. We are fortunate to enjoy great friendships in this group, so it isn’t just about performing. We look forward to shows like this because we get to hang out as well.”
Small town show, big town fun
As re:Voiced prepares to perform in Ely, they bring a variety of musical genres from classic oldies to newer pop songs.
“We create an inspiring entertainment experience for audiences of any age and we have a dang good time doing it,” Opeifa said.
And despite appearing on stage with artists like Maroon 5, Rascal Flats and Ludacris, the band is looking forward to performing in Ely.
“We’re absolutely thrilled about performing in Ely,” Opeifa said. “A friend of ours in the booking industry recommended us to Ed, who I believe is involved in the coordination of the event. She had so many good things to say about the town and how fun everyone is there and we were sold.”
For those unfamiliar with a cappella, re:Voiced features one member providing drum beats, one singing low bass lines, one lead singer and two other singers providing back up vocals that serve as singers or emulate guitars and other instruments.
“The group has a very similar feel/configuration to older style doo wop and Motown groups but with a much newer feel to them,” Rossi said. “Consider groups such as The Temptations, Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Mills Brothers. Now imagine those groups without bands backing them up and they themselves make up the entirety of the songs that you know and love.”
While Opeifa said the band hopes to have long-term success without having to travel quite so much, performing in front of small town crowds can be the most fun.
“Small towns know how to have big fun,” Opeifa said. “Any time we perform a show like this, people are just so welcoming and warm and everyone is just ready to have a blast. That energy is contagious and makes our time there unforgettable.”
As re:Voiced looks to give audiences a great time, Opeifa said seeing an a cappella group isn’t like how you’ve imagined in the past but it will be a great time.
“It means we have to be more creative to get a ‘full’ sound,” Opeifa said. “We don’t have the benefit of any one person playing six notes at a time on one instrument or backing tracks with full orchestrations. We have to make it all happen with just five voices. We like the challenge.”