Sunday, March 27, 2011

48th Music Kitchen Performance: 'Overboard Vocals' from Boston Dec. 2, 2010

[48th Music Kitchen Performance: “Overboard Vocals” from Boston Dec. 2, 2010]

Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Founder and President of Music Kitchen: Food for the Soul sends AfriClassical word of the 48th Music Kitchen Performance: “Overboard Vocals,” a male a cappella group which performed at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on Dec. 2, 2010:

“A Pop Male Vocal Sextet
This morning, in the spirit of presenting excellent examples of chamber music from diverse traditions, I was very pleased to present the a cappella male vocal group 'Overboard' from Boston. Nick from the group originally emailed me following one of last season's press coverage articles. While I cannot possibly present all of the artists who contact me, some stand out and inspire me right away as something Music Kitchen audiences would enjoy and I am pleased when I have the resources to act on that inspiration and hire them. Overboard was just such a group: not only do they have an enormous repertoire that spans doo-wop to motet to R&B to standards, but their artistic excellence is a hallmark of their impact. Their songs are beautifully arranged, harmonized and performed.

“Plus they vocally produce instrumental sounds such as percussion that were good enough to fool my exceptionally talented professional percussionist husband. As always, the bustling Holy Apostles environment proves challenging acoustically, and the Overboard group was already down one singer who was away singing with the Boston Pops (the group expertly revised their arrangements to cover the missing 6th voice). But still the group won over the diners at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, one by one. There was an interesting twist on the exuberant responses and outbursts: when people are responding positively to instrumental chamber music, there's little that they can do to join in the music making. But make it a familiar doo-wop song from the 1950s and suddenly everyone is Frankie Valli!

"'Oh, No, no, no, please don't leave me!' a powerful voice belted, savoring the song, long after it had ended and just as Overboard was about to take a breath to start the next one. That happened more and more as their set went on; added harmonies could also be heard at various points in the room. This is the first time I decided to employ the more central and elevated stage (altar) area of the floor, since there were no instruments to contend with. They definitely made an impact there, with many listening and cheering them on from the closest spots to the music. But again, since there were no instruments involved, I thought it would be neat to have the singers go down amongst the listeners with their expressive singing and perfectly terraced harmonies. That proved to be a great idea as so many of the listeners loved having the music closer to them. One man was clearly transported to another era of his life as he listened, blocking everyone else out but the voices, unabashedly moving swaying and sometimes singing along with the music. Many listeners caught my eye to give me a thumbs up and as usual, several men thanked me for bringing such wonderful music to the shelter.

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