If you haven’t heard the a cappella group Voctave, you need to. 

Seriously.

This group “happens” to have some of the same singers as the Voices of Liberty from EPCOT. (There’s legal reasons for the distinction, I’m sure.) As a listener, I look forward to each new video they release on YouTube. The STUPENDOUS vocals, left virtually untouched by studio effects that overhype and dress up the sound remind everyone that its possible to create a cappella music “straight up.” They are the vocal and stylistic descendants of Derric Johnson’s ReGeneration “vocal orchestra” from the 1970’s. 

But there are three reasons I love Voctave that have nothing (okay, almost nothing) to do with their vocals.

They have tremendous arrangements.

Jamey Ray has succeeded Derric Johnson as a preeminent “vocal orchestra” arranger. His arrangements sparkle with creativity and create a sense of “bigness.” His inventiveness is seen so well in the “You Can Fly” medley where you can feel the takeoff and soaring as you listen. 

It’s all about the music, not image.

Oh they look sharp. They have stage presence (duh!). They emote incredibly well.

But I’m refreshed that’s with them, its all about the music. They aren’t worried about creating a dance troupe or posting sexy pictures of themselves on Instagram. There are some incredibly talented groups out there that I enjoy listening to. But I get tired of  many the music videos because it becomes more about the staging than about the music. (If that’s your thing, that great for you!) But I’m a bit old-fashioned: no matter what neat effects you use in your video, keep it about the music.

Barbershop technique is well represented.

Okay, I lied just a little because this is a little bit about the vocals. 

I remember when some “serious” choral musicians thumbed their nose at the techniques employed by barbershop singers (namely the Barbershop Harmony Society).  Their methodology of tone production wasn’t considered proper by some. I love the fact that the same kind of methodology is employed by Voctave that is employed in barbershop singing. 

It’s no wonder that Tony De Rosa is a part of this group. He is an award-winning barbershopper, among many other things. As an a cappella singer with barbershop roots myself, I love hearing a fantastic choral sound that utilizes techniques that prove barbershoppers were right all along.

Just a few quick thoughts about this amazing vocal group. It makes me want to start my own. Thanks, Voctave, and keep up the good – no, GREAT work!

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