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Artikel Tagged ‘Vocal Asia’

Vocal Asia Festival 2016 in Taitung (Taiwan)

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, August 2016

Impressions of Asia’s biggest A Cappella Festival

It is not possible to give you the full impression on my experience I made during the Vocal Asia Festival 2016 in just one vocal blog post. But let me try to give you at least a glimpse of this years’ biggest A Cappella event in Asia with a record participant number of almost 500 including international and domestic events.

Vocal Asia Festival All Participants

Vocal Asia Festival All Participants

Taitung – a city with long aboriginal a cappella history

Taiwanese Aboriginal Group

Taiwanese Aboriginal Group

The beautiful city of Taitung with a third of the population having aboriginal roots and aboriginal music being mainly vocal music it was the perfect place to be to organize an a cappella festival, combining the contemporary A Cappella music with the local aboriginal vocal music. It’s the birthplace of the Austronesian culture and indigenous tribes preserved the sounds from both the mountains and the seas through their memories from generation to generation.

Together with the variety of Asian music styles and latin american rhythms and sounds from the 2016 master group Vocal Sampling from Cuba, it was the richest and most diverse Vocal Asia Festival (VAF) ever.

Rich diversity of music styles

Dance Group at "Sound of Taitung"

Dance Group at “Sound of Taitung”

Voco Novo and Set Tone Men

Voco Novo and Set Tone Men

This special atmosphere and bridging of traditional with contemporary sounds was best reflected in the Sound of Taitung concert on the second evening. Local aboriginal vocal and dancing groups performed together with contemporary a cappella groups who combined traditional with modern sounds and vocal techniques. Singsong, Mamama Tribe, Chu-Yin Cultural and Arts Troupe, Vusam and Eastern Bunun Youth Music Group electrified the audience the same way like Acapellago from the Philippines, Voco Novo and Gili from Taiwan and Set Tone Men from Hongkong. Once local star singer Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw got on stage, the audience couldn’t hold in and the whole Concert Hall had a blast singing along and wouldn’t stop the repetitive call-response-parts.

The filipino group Acapellago created new sounds out of a Taiwanese ethnic song entitled „Song of Happiness“ dedicated to the Rukai Tribe. Voco Novo surprised with cooperation songs together with Hongkong’s Set Tone Men, with Gili, this year’s winner of the Asian Cup A Cappella competition, as well as with Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw. The evening was filled with a new sound experience, a combination of aboriginal music, traditional poems, modern a cappella music and instrument simulations.

Watch Acapellago’s video on Facebook. Acapellago from the Philippines performed „Song of Happiness“ from the Taiwanese Rukai Tribe: Acapellago at Sound of Taitung

Asian Cup A Cappella Competition – the largest A Cappella Competition in Asia

Competition Participants

Competition Participants

15 groups from 8 different Asian countries were competing at the 3rd Asian Cup A Cappella Competition on the first day of the VAF 2016 August 17th. It was by far the highest level of competing groups in Asia and the Jury had a very hard time to decide on the winners. The Jury consisted of Ray Yi Chu and Jia-Ching Lai from Taiwan, Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan, Michele Weir from California and Rene Baños Pascual from Vocal Sampling, Cuba.

The Winners: Gili (Taiwan)

The Winners: Gili (Taiwan)

Compared to last year’s competition with more homogenous sounds and very similar music styles this time it was much more diverse. The participants represented their cultural background, sometimes with traditional elements of their country and several own compositions. You could experience the evolution of Asian A Cappella music and more self-confidence of the teams relying on their own music style and cultural background.

Acapellago 2nd Price

Acapellago 2nd Price

Although they didn’t win a price, my personal highlight was my former a cappella group Acaism from Shanghai joining the Asia Cup Competition. And although we didn’t part that long ago, we miss each other a lot. On stage, they dedicated one of their songs to me and I couldn’t stop crying as their voices reached directly to my heart.

The Groovies 3rd Place

The Groovies 3rd Place

Special prices were awarded to the Water Singers from Macau and The Apex Project from Singapore. The Third Price was given to two groups: The Groovies from Japan and Doo-Wop Sounds from Korea. Acapellago from the Philippines were awarded with the Second Price. Their performance was amazing and they blew away the audience not only at the competition, they contributed to every single concert during the 4-day festival.

Doo-Wop Sounds 3rd Place

Doo-Wop Sounds 3rd Place

Finally, the champions of the 2016 Asian Cup Competition are Gili from Taiwan. They will represent Asia during the 2017 VoiceJAM, the partner a cappella festival in Northwest Arkansas.

Special act was 尋人啟事人聲樂團 The Wanted Vocal Band who are the winners of 2015 Asian Cup Competition and 2016 VoiceJAM champions. An amazingly refreshing group. I am always fond of meeting and listening to them.

An extract of the Asian Cup Competition – Which group would you have voted for?

Sound of Asia Concert and ACA Day

ACA Day Tiehua Village

The Present (Korea) at ACA Day Tiehua Village

The participating groups of the Vocal Asia Festival get many chances to connect to the local people and spread the catching sounds of a cappella. The ACA Day is like a big open air party at different locations in the hosting city Taitung. The whole afternoon about 20 groups from 8 different countries sang on open air stages in Tiehua Village and MATA  Taiwan Indigenous Cultural Resort. It was incredibly hot that day, but the singers and the audience were having a great time, moving their hips, singing and clapping along – an overwhelming atmosphere.

Acappuccino (Singapore) and me

Acappuccino (Singapore) and me

Another personal highlight was during the Sound of Asia concert. Not only did I join the Single Singers (see previous vocal blog posts) but also I got the chance to collaborate with the Singaporean group Acappuccino. We met last year and became friends at the Vocal Asia Festival in Shanghai. Spontaneously, we decided to sing a song together during the Sound of Asia concert. It was such an honor to be asked guest singer by Acappuccino, I couldn’t reject that offer. And the song they invited me to join had another special meaning to me. Australian Spring by Basix , the group I met at my first Vocal Asia Camp in Shanghai in 2014. It was not about the performance, for us it was all about our friendship, about the basic message of the Vocal Asia Festival, about bridging nations, cultures, distances by doing music together. For me there was no better place than this festival to sing a song together.

Cuban sounds at the VAF 2016

Workshop with Vocal Sampling

Workshop with Vocal Sampling

This years headliner group came from Cuba: Vocal Sampling. It was an interesting combination and I was very curious whether their rhythm and sounds would catch and match the Asian a cappella friends.

During their workshops, they taught the different Cuban and Latin Jazz instrumental sounds and animated the participants to dance and sing along. No doubt they infected everyone with a Cuban summer feeling. At the Gala Concert they made the whole audience in the Arts and Culture Center become a member of Vocal Sampling, nobody remaining on their seats, everyone dancing to Cuban and salsa rhythms, clapping, singing – even in Spanish.

For the Chinese speaking audience they prepared another highlight: 甜蜜蜜 Tian Mi Mi

Get an impression of the six enthusiastic artists from Cuba and watch my interview during the festival:

The best feeling you get by sneaking into the workshops. Stand up while you are watching and move your hips and sing along!

Workshop schedule at the Vocal Asia Festival 2016

Michele Weir: Solo Singing

Michele Weir: Solo Singing

Not only Vocal Sampling was offering workshops and coaching individual vocal groups, instructors from Taiwan, Japan, Hongkong and US gave arranging lessons, coaching sessions, taught about harmony, vocal percussion, stage performance, solo singing and fearless improvisation.

In latter two workshops led by Michele Weir, Jazz educator, arranger, producer and pianist, the participants could practice scat singing, learn about what makes a great jazz performance great and try out their latest learnings in front of the workshop participants.

Scat Singing with Michele Weir

Scat Singing with Michele Weir

Dr. Stephen Gusukuma and Baylor University’s VirtuOSO from Texas shared their process of creating and executing choreography for catching performances.

Jazz Vocal Percussionist Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan shared his knowledge on different percussion grooves and what it takes to be able to work with so many great musicians around the world.

 

Kaichiro Kitamura

Kaichiro Kitamura

Kwok-Tung Fung from Hongkong shared how his group The Gay Singers, the longest running a cappella group in the Chinese speaking region, has developed and the secret of managing a group in the long run.

From Taiwan, the a cappella legends Ray Yi Chu, Christine Liu, Jia-Ching Lai and professor Shawn Chen shared their experiences. Christine leading the Single Singers (see article…), professor Shawn Chen teaching about local sound of Taiwan and Ray and Jia-Ching teaching about what makes a good harmony and how to make a good a cappella arrangement..

The tremendous organizational efforts can be hardly estimated if you consider that in parallel to the international Vocal Asia Festival there was a domestic event with the Taitung Cup A Cappella Competition, the same number of workshops and similar number of local participants to boost the a cappella education in the region.

Education Seminar „The next step of Asia A Cappella Education“

Besides the many workshops and seminars, the a cappella education representatives from different Asian countries exchanged success stories and talked about the future of Asian A Cappella Education.

Sung Mo Han and Kaichiro Kitamura

Sung Mo Han and Kaichiro Kitamura

Moderated by Wuming Chen, Angelina Choo from Singapore, Howard Cheung and Ray Yi Chu from Taiwan, Jo Jo Pang from Hongkong, Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan, Sung-Mo Han from Korea and the audience from all over Asia discussed how to develop local teachers for a cappella to effectively increase the interest, spread and improve the skills even in smaller cities and towns. Not all methods work well in all countries, but there is a lot to learn from each other and best practices are exchanged.

Education Seminar

Education Seminar

The educational consultant of Vocal Asia and the President of the Korea A Cappella Education Association Sung Mo Han spontaneously demonstrating teaching without scores.

The a cappella educational activities in the different countries are promising and already show a huge success. There is more to come, more to align and exchange and it will be interesting to follow and track the future initiatives.

Next year the Vocal Asia Festival will take place in Hongkong. I’m already excited and can’t wait to join. Hope to see many of you in Hongkong!

My journey as a “single singer” in Asia – Part 2

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, August 2016

My journey as a single singer in Asia – Part 2

Christine Liu leading the Single Singers at VAF 2016

Christine Liu leading the Single Singers at VAF 2016

In August 2016, it is the second time that I join the Vocal Asia Festival (VAF). It takes place in Taitung, a beautiful city in south-west of Taiwan. The highest participant number ever, almost 500 singers, various groups from dozens of different Asian countries are joining – and I came alone.

But at the VAF, nobody is ever alone. And on top, everybody regardless of coming alone or in a group can actively join, sing along and even perform on stage – thanks to the „Single Singers“. While in Europe, Single Singers are mingling at various festivals thanks to the idea of Annemarie Homan and Emily May’t Hoen, Christine Liu (Voco Novo and Director of International Affairs at Vocal Asia) is driving that idea and leading the Single Singers at the Vocal Asia Festivals.

Single Singers at VAF 2015

Single Singers at the Vocal Asia Festival 2015 in Shanghai

Both, 2015 in Shanghai and this year in Taitung, I joined the Single Singers. At every VAF there are famous international master groups and professional teachers from all over the world and Christine always selected two songs somehow related to the festival. Therefore, we had the big honor to perform a song each from Naturally 7 and DeltaCappella, the master groups of VAF 2015, and a song from  Vocal Sampling and one song arranged by Michele Weir at VAF 2016.


Singing with Naturally 7 at the Vocal Asia Festival 2015

Christine Liu with the Single Singers at VAF 2016

Christine Liu with the Single Singers at VAF 2016

Sometimes, the songs can be very challenging, including instrumental sound imitations and rhythms, the majority of the single singers has never done before. And this year even a language nobody could speak: Spanish.

Amongst all of us I think Christine had the most difficult time. She prepared very well, send all those who applied for the single singers the music upfront, assigned to each person the respective voice part and solo part… But things rarely go exactly according to plan. Three times more single singers showed up at the first rehearsal, the majority was not prepared, not even knew the music sheets. At least everyone was motivated to practice for the big concert: Sound of Asia concert on the third evening of the festival. But the first singing was frankly speaking a disaster. I admired Christine for her patience and positiveness: „Not too bad for a beginning, we’ll make it!“

Michele Weir coaching the Single Singers

Michele Weir coaching the Single Singers

At the second rehearsal the number of single singers was reduced by half, some of the assigned soloists stepped out, nobody among the single singers ever did vocal percussion and time is running. In 2015, we had the great chance to sing along with Naturally 7 (Soldier Down) and DeltaCappella (Easy) and get an intense but short coaching directly from the pro’s and original singers. In 2016, Michele Weir coached us for her arrangement of „One Hand, One Heart“ and Vocal Sampling joined the soundcheck for some last recommendations to their song „Pirim Pin Pin“.

I’m not sure how we made it, but at the end, the single singers performed the two songs, not perfect, but good enough to get a big applause from the audience. Anyway, the main purpose isn’t the quality of the performance.

Single Singers helping each other

Single Singers helping each other

What counts above all is the experience together, sharing the passion for singing, bridging cultures, having fun and finding a common language and harmony. It is wonderful to see, how everyone contributes and grows together in that short period of time. Haruka Abe from Japan joins the last rehearsal 3 hours before we need to go on stage, and she steps in for a soloist part, learns the Spanish lyrics although she never spoke a single word of Spanish before, coached by Patricio Antonio Liang a Taiwanese Spanish-speaker. 10-year old Haejoon Han from Korea enthusiastically learns the Cuban Maracas sound and proudly gets his own microphone. When anything is unclear, there is some hectic translation in all directions, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, English… and the next chord just sounds awesome.

Single Singers Backstage

Single Singers Backstage

Of course, everyone wants to do their best and gets really nervous before the big performance. But backstage, the single singers are motivating each other, releasing tension by just having a good time and getting encouragement by the pro’s and coaches.

Single singers is so very different from any choir performance or vocal group performance I ever had before. You have to rely on fellow singers you meet the first time, you have to adjust and learn from each other in a very short time, listening is even more important because you cannot easily anticipate how the others are going to sing and you have to be flexible enough to learn something you’ve never done before and perform it 2 days later in front of hundreds of people and even in front of the original singers or arrangers.

Single Singers Performance at VAF 2016

Single Singers Performance at the Sound of Asia Concert, Vocal Asia Festival 2016

VAF 2016: Juliana and Li Lin from Acappuccino

VAF 2016: Juliana and Li Lin from Acappuccino

VAF 2015: Juliana and Li Lin, Single Singers

VAF 2015: Juliana and Li Lin, Single Singers

This year, I even had a very special reunion with some fellow single singers from VAF 2015. Derrick Kam and Li Lin Miyu from the Singaporean vocal group Acappuccino asked me, if I would like to join them as a guest singer for one song during the Sound of Asia concert. Although on very short notice, it was such an honor that I couldn’t reject that offer. Further, for me it was the continuation of the single singers’ idea, it was about bridging nations, cultures, distances by doing music together. No better place than this festival to sing a song together.

 


One Hand, One Heart – Single Singers’ performance at the Vocal Asia Festival 2016

Next year’s Vocal Asia Festival will be in Hongkong. If you can make it, even without your vocal group, come and join the Single Singers! You will have no regrets and return home with a huge number of new friends and an unforgettable experience. Check it out!

My journey as a „single singer“ in Asia – Part 1

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, August 2016

My journey as a single singer in Asia – Part 1

Two years ago, I moved from a comparatively small town in Germany to the 20-million-metropolis Shanghai. To continue my passion for singing and at the same time making some Chinese friends, I wanted to join some local singing group. But how to find it?

Saturday's Single Singers in Shanghai

Saturday’s Single Singers in Shanghai

I was in the lucky situation to know Christine Liu (雙雙 Shuāng Shuāng) from Voco Novo and the Director of International Affairs at Vocal Asia. Vocal Asia is the biggest association of a cappella singers and initiatives in Asia. Although Christine lives in Taiwan, she happened to be in Shanghai in my first week and she introduced me to a key person of a cappella in Shanghai: Bud Jan (詹子贤 Zhān Zi Xián). And this was the start of my journey as a „single singer“ – not at all a lonely journey as the wording might make you believe.

Single Singers in Shanghai

Single Singers in Shanghai

If it’s about a cappella in Shanghai, I would say even in whole China, there is nobody who doesn’t know Bud, and Bud seems to know every single person related to a cappella in Greater China. He organizes the so-called Single Singers in Shanghai and spread this idea to a lot of other cities in China.

The roots of „Single Singers“ is known from the Dutch singers Annemarie Homan and Emily May’t Hoen who came up with this idea at the London A Cappella Festival. Not only vocal groups are joining such festivals but also a lot of singers are coming alone. For them to actively join, to sing along in a group and perform together, they formed the „Single Singers“.

In a similar sense, the Single Singers in Shanghai are formed, but it goes even far beyond. Born from the idea to popularize and spread A Cappella several singers gathered every Saturday in the Shanghai Mass Arts Center and invited all interested single singers to join, to learn and to sing together. In China there is less of a choir culture than for example in Germany. Many of those gathering every Saturday have no musical background, can’t read music or are not used to match harmonies but all of them are curious and love to sing.

Saturday Rehearsal with the Single Singers

Saturday Rehearsal with the Single Singers

When I joined the Shanghai Single Singers in summer 2014, it was still a very young community, just founded a few months before. In only a few cities in China similar organizations were about to start, most copying the example of Shanghai.

Teaching the Cup Song

Teaching the Cup Song

Every Saturday, new single singers would join. Life is incredibly busy in Shanghai and there is a high fluctuation. Nevertheless, over a certain period of time, more and more participants would become frequent visitors. It was not easy to teach and balance the different levels, so after several months we split the group into experienced and beginners. While the beginners were taught basics of singing techniques, rhythms and the beauty of singing in harmony, the more experienced single singers would learn advanced singing and vocal percussion techniques, music theory, arranging, stage performance and choreography. The a cappella community is growing and during the last two years, we gained more than thousand followers, either actively joining the single singers or at least following the activities of the single singers, coming to the concerts or just spreading the word and letting people know about a cappella.

born out of Single Singers: Knowhow Vocal Group

born out of Single Singers: Knowhow Vocal Group

The single singers in China are extremely eager to learn. Although I am no professional, I got the chance to share and teach warm-up methods, rhythm exercises, circle-singing and different choir practices which I know from Europe. We had guest teachers and professors in a rotating mode, local professors as well as famous teachers from abroad like professor Liu (劉靜諭 Liú Jìng Yù) from Taiwan. I am extremely thankful to the lead teacher Hao Hao (董文昊 Dǒng Wén Hào) who dedicates countless hours to develop a teaching concept, to arrange songs for the single singers, to teach almost every single Saturday and to coach newly formed a cappella groups. For me the Single Singers classes were at the same time Chinese language lessons and everyone took care that I understood, that I was integrated and part of the family.

Acaism, the first group to drive and grow the Single Singers

Acaism driving and growing the Single Singers

What makes me extremely happy is the bunch of new a cappella groups forming out of single singers. Every year, at least 5 new vocal groups were born. Me too, I founded a group in 2014 called KnowHow (in Chinese characters 侬好 „nonghao“ which means „hello“ in Shanghainese dialect).

And I am very proud I was invited to join Acaism Vocal Group 阿卡主义人声乐团 for the last 2 years, actually the first and the driving group of Single Singers in Shanghai and Bud being the founder of Acaism.

And all these groups together with the single singers will perform in several concerts throughout the year. Flash mobs in shopping malls, street music, a cappella concerts and as opening acts for successful professional vocal groups visiting Shanghai.

Single Singers Concert

Single Singers Concert

Meanwhile, single singers like in Shanghai are founded in twelve more cities in China: Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, Guilin, Harbin, Luoyang, Xi’an, Tianjin, Lanzhou, Changchun, Nanjing. They started to gather once a year in a nationwide single singers forum to exchange, sing together and give free concerts to a growing audience. If one of the cities has a bigger event, representatives from the other cities will support and join. As the lead city’s main organizer Bud Jan supports if a new single singers group wants to form and keeps the network together.

Acaism and Single Singers Concert

Acaism and Single Singers Concert

I am so proud and grateful that I could be part of this single singers development and that I could witness the childhood of a great a cappella future in China.

Here you can watch some videos of Single Singers activities in Shanghai:

Single Singers Flashmob in Kunshan
A-Cappella Concert in Shanghai
Single Singers in Shanghai Trailer 1
Single Singers in Shanghai Trailer 2
Single Singers in Shanghai Trailer 3

Vocal Asia 2015: Talking to Deke Sharon

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, August 2015

Deke Sharon with Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia

Deke Sharon with Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia

The third blog post featuring the Vocal Asia Festival 2015 is another exclusive highlight. It was hard to even track  the interviewee down – as busy as he is with coaching, producing, writing, arranging and networking. Deke Sharon, founder of CASA (The Contemporary A Cappella Association), co-founder of The House Jacks, producer of The Sing-off, Pitch Perfect, Straight No Chaser and The Sing-off China is called “The A Cappella Godfather” for a reason.

That’s why I was happy and excited to talk him while meeting him at the Vocal Asia Festival in Shanghai, China.

Juliana: Youve been here in Asia already several times, last time about 2 years ago. Can you feel the progress Asia is having with a cappella? How did you experience the Asian A Cappella groups during the Vocal Asia Festival this year?

Deke: I coached many different a cappella groups this time. First of all, I can’t believe the talent, I can’t believe the quality. Things have gotten so much better than where we were just the first Vocal Asia Festival (5 years ago). Young groups, older groups, different styles, different personalities – amazing. I would say, if I had one piece of criticism, one piece of suggestion: the groups that I saw, some of them are so interested in doing difficult arrangements, complex harmonies. They love the balance, they love all of these color notes. But they need to remember that people love music not because it’s difficult.

We love a cappella because it’s difficult, but the general public loves a cappella because of how it makes them feel. We need to make sure that every song has a feeling in it. And when we think about Pentatonix, their harmonies aren’t complex. They don’t have lots of notes stacked up. It’s more about them singing the songs well with a lot of passion. And that’s what I want from all of the groups here. I want them to have the same success as Pentatonix. Singing songs in a variety of different languages, from a variety of different perspectives, all with a lot of passion and power. And hopefully with a lot of media attention.

Juliana: In China, a lot of a cappella groups are at their beginning stage and many are lacking an experienced teacher. What can you recommend, how can they improve?

Deke: The first I’d recommend for a cappella groups in Asia is to contact Vocal Asia. The organization has resources, it has ambassadors in every country. It has materials that have been created and best practices. And even if these don’t exist in your language, they can create them in other languages. They can help you get this information. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Learn from people who’ve done it before and then just take their practices and use them in your own region.

Juliana: When I talk to people about my hobby, my passion for a cappella, after showing some first interest, at least 80% tell me: Oh, I cant sing. You dont want to hear me sing. I am totally tone-deaf! - What do you do to motivate people to sing a cappella?

Deke_back_klDeke: Well, I’ve made a couple of videos about this very issue (watch Deke Sharon’s Youtube channel), because I find it very frustrating that our culture has changed to the point where people think they can’t sing. One or two generations ago everybody sang. There was no recorded music and if you wanted music, you had to make it yourself. This has changed so much in our culture and it’s a shame because we, I think, are like whales, we are like birds, we are like crickets, we communicate through music with each other. It’s soothing, it’s powerful, it’s how we fall in love. So everybody should have the opportunity to sing, but unfortunately many people ever since they were young in school have been told: „You have a good voice, you should sing – Ah, you are not such a good singer…“ I am hoping to change the culture and create more opportunities for people to sing. But more importantly change the feeling that everybody has to be Pavarotti, everybody has to be Katy Perry and nobody else should sing. That’s a mistake.

Juliana: On your way here to Shanghai, you commented on Facebook: Even China Air considers it a classic referring to the Pitch Perfect movie being in the category of classic - Do you think a cappella and vocal play gets its appropriate attention and respect compared to instrument accompanied music?

Deke: Well, a cappella disappeared through most cultures over the past few decades. It was very popular with doo wop music in America in the 50ies… and there is an a cappella tradition in every culture. But current popular music is so much about instruments that I think that has been lost. And we are helping people refind it. And when you see the excitement people have when they hear an a cappella group, it’s so exciting, it’s so charging, it recharges my batteries.

Last night’s performance in the mall many groups were performing (Vocal Asia Festival held a 3 hour a cappella concert with the participant groups in a shopping mall, people gathering and watching from 3 different floors) and there was a giant crowd forming to hear this group singing. And some woman just walked up to me and asked me to videotape the group, because it was too big of a crowd and she couldn’t see over them. So I held her phone above of my head and videotaped the group performing. (look at the first picture I took with Deke, obviously he could hold the phone above the crowd – and no, it was not me asking him for the favor). That’s amazing! She didn’t even know me. She just handed me her phone. So people want it, people love it, they just don’t know about it. That’s really what we’re doing.

Juliana: Youve been behind various Sing Off Shows all over the world, accompanied so many media productions and of course not to forget the Pitch Perfect movie. When it comes to bringing a cappella into mainstream media and catch a broad audience it is not only about a cappella. What is needed to make it a success?

Deke: Well, it depends on the particular media form. So, in the case of a major movie, there needs to be a strong story, in the case of Pitch Perfect it was a great story and it’s fun. So both of the movies made people laugh, people went to the movie because they wanted to see these characters, they wanted to laugh, and then they fell in love with a cappella.

Almost everybody who saw Pitch Perfect didn’t know anything about a cappella. Obviously our community knew about it and enjoyed it, but it was the general public who experienced a cappella through it for the first time. When you do new shows like the Sing Off, the stakes, the competition is important to keep the audience involved. But behind the scenes I tell singers: the competition doesn’t matter. This is just an opportunity for you to get viewers to the television.

With viral videos you want that there is something different, special and interesting about your video that makes people watch it, not just that it’s a cappella. And that’s been so successful for so many groups. There’s a lot of interest in the current media but it’s still growing. I look forward to seeing a cappella go on broadway and in more television programs and groups formed all around the world.

Juliana: Will there be a second Sing Off in China?

Deke: We’re hoping that Sing Off in China will come back. We did the Sing Off China in 2012, it was a success and hopefully it will come back again. I hear people talking about it, they definitely want it to come back. But it was an issue of television shows evolving and the government not wanting too much of it. But, we’ll get there.

Juliana: The a cappella lovers in Mainland China are also very sad, that Pitch Perfect 2 didn’t come to the cinemas here.

Deke: Well, hopefully we’ll get here eventually.

Juliana: That would be great. We are just waiting for it! – Do you think A cappella competitions are the right thing to improve quality of groups?

Deke: For me, an a cappella competition is not about improving quality. It is about getting an audience. So, when I created the college a cappella competition, it was the freedom march madness of a cappella (march madness are the play offs in college basketball). There is something about the public wants to see a competition…

In fact, in Pitch Perfect both story lines were around competition. So, if that’s what we need to do to get people to sit and watch, then that’s fine. But, hopefully, groups are motivated to make their music on their own and to come to the competition to make friends, to get a bigger audience and that winning isn’t the only thing, that’s not the most important.

Juliana: Recently, a Chinese friend asked me Do you think it can be done for real, these battles like in Pitch Perfect, on that level? - I would like to hand over this question to you, the vocal producer of Pitch Perfect.

Deke: No, it’s not. You can’t do the riff off. It’s too hard. The human mind can’t work that quickly singing with other people. They are a few groups, like my own group the House Jacks, who will be able to improvise a song in front of the audience. But we are not improvising a song right on top of another song based on a single word connection. But that’s Hollywood, that’s drama, that’s fine.

Juliana: I am very curious about two recent or upcoming projects of yours. The Lifetime show and the a cappella touring show Vocalosity. Can you tell us more about that?

Deke: Yes, there is a new television show that I just finished taping on Lifetime. It’ll come out – I think – it will be in January. And it’s about a high school a cappella group which should be really exciting.

And I am working with a great group called „Stay tuned“ from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Big a cappella group, 21 high school singers. And they are not even a class at the school. They are just like an after school activity. So they are a little like the Barden Bellas (laugh). They are diverse, and a little rough round the edges, but we have a lot of fun together, we make some amazing music.

My show Vocalosity, it fantastic. And I’ve got some of the greatest young professional a cappella singers out there. And the cast is not being announced yet. But when you hear them, you say „wow, these are stars from the Sing Off, these are stars from other a cappella groups and shows“. They are twelve in total. And that group will be touring in the US throughout 2016 and hopefully will start touring internationally soon after.

Juliana: You also announced your new book coming out this year. What is it about?

Deke: My new book called „A Cappella“  which I co-wrote with Brody McDonald and Ben Spalding. This is a book with lots of chapters with different guest writers as well. The idea is, we’re trying to create a single definitive book about all aspects of a cappella. So my book „A Cappella Arranging“ still will be the work about a cappella arranging.

But this book is about the history of a cappella, the traditions, with lots of different lists in there, like celebrities who sang a cappella in college and finding college a cappella group names…

But also how do you arrange by ear, how do you mix live sound, how do you integrate live looping pedals into your live performance. And so on and so forth. Hopefully, it’s a resource that’ll be of interest to people who just generate live a cappella, fans and also people who do it professionally, will also find things valuable in it.

Juliana: When will it be available?

Deke: Well, it was supposed to be available now. So, I am just waiting for the final draft to be going through and edit. And hopefully it will be out by the end of the year. I am guessing another month or two.

Juliana: Its just unbelievable what you do, you produce movies, TV shows, you arrange songs, you write books, you coach groups, hold workshops, all around the world Looking at your schedule, your achievements for a cappella and your full devotion and enthusiasm for everything related to a cappella. I wonder how a Deke Sharon day looks like.

Deke (laugh): Every day is different and there is no single example. When I am working on the Sing Off, I am 100% Sing Off, when I’m working on Pitch Perfect I am 100% Pitch Perfect, … those kind of projects are so captivating that they just fill your brain from the moment you wake up to the moment you get asleep.

And then it’s in-between that I get to have so much fun, and fly to different festivals, and work with groups and publish music and do custom arrangements and do all these type of things. So, if people wonder what the average day in my life looks like, there is no average day. But, the beautiful thing is that it all interweaves. Every time, I arrange a song, maybe that song gonna get used again, or maybe, I’ll publish it, or maybe I’ll perform it when I get to Carnegie Hall… etc, etc.

There is something great about a cappella, there is so many different aspects and all relate to each other: arranging, coaching, teaching, songwriting, performing and inspiring people… What I love about a cappella is all of it. And I wouldn’t give any of it up.

Juliana: At last nights Vocal Asia Festival party, there were all these plastic cups, and of course, there would be a table starting off with the cup song. Last question, I am very curious, you as the vocal producer of Pitch Perfect, do you know how to do the percussion of the cup song which became viral, even here in non-Youtube country China?

Deke (smile): I know it very well, but I don’t do it myself. I leave that to others.

Juliana: Thank you so much, Deke, for this interesting and inspiring interview.

Deke: You are most welcome.