At the point of writing this, we’ve only done three events with Polo. The first two were last week in Frankfurt and Stuttgart, Germany. You can find the details for those shows in the tickets previous to this one. The third event (not a real show) was yesterday in LA. We shot the video for Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossa Nostra. Polo did a great job and not only was it his first video, but also first time in LA and first time meeting Quincy (who told him he loved his hat). All done with style and grace.
One of the reasons for picking Polo (Napoleon Cummings) was that we know that we have to be ready to face new situations at any given time and adapt; he definitely has those attributes. Many times we face things that there are no rules to follow. Whether vocally speaking or just in our life style on the road. So we improvise… that’s important to be able to do and everybody can’t do that.
Naturally 7 is a family that started just from us wondering if we could make our own mark in music and still up keep our faith which is important to us. From the beginning (whenever that was) we chose from our talent pool of friends. Starting from me, that means everyone was either my friend or a friend of a friend (or family member) with the exception of Warren (my brother). So what’s changed? Nothing at all…
Polo fits into that same dynamic. I first heard him sing at a church I was visiting in Atlanta and I really liked his rendition of the song he was doing which I knew well. (Can’t remember the song anymore). That was probably 3-4 years ago. I asked my good friend Sim Stevenson (My Best Man at my wedding, some of you will recognize his name from N7 credits ) who he was and he told me and gave me some background. That is always the beginning…
I must say that we have never picked between more than 2 people for any N7 position. That should let you know how blessed we are.
As in Hops, Polo’s case was no different. We almost need to feel like we know the new person and that can only happen if it’s through another person you trust.
In my estimation, there isn’t much you can do to determine how much you’re going to like living together without living together. You kinda have to take a leap of faith with the info you able to attain. How do we feel? So far it’s been nothing but a joy.
What does it take from the musical side to join us? Well, I would say the first three things are;
1) A nice voice that is completely different from the other six, yet able to blend to our one N7 voice. That is a mouthful, but extremely important.
2) A very good ear, specifically for harmonics and rhythm.
3) Singer needs to be “Uninhibited”.
Polo gets a check for all the above, of course their are many more things to consider, but I thought I’d share these three things because I think they are most important. Let’s talk about them a bit more.
1) Why is this so important to me? There are thousands of acappella groups on the planet. The goal is for all the voices to blend. Usually, the better the group is able to do this, the less individuality is produced… it’s just a natural progression. Especially if they have been singing together for a long time or if the majority is family. That has been less the case for N7. With maybe the exception of Warren and I, for the most part, each member sounds completely different when taking a lead. But once we are harmonizing, even I struggle to figure out who’s singing on certain studio tracks that are not labeled. I think this is a gift, oppose to hard work. Polo will only continue to keep us on this somewhat unique road. Most of what I’m saying will play out in the future.
2) This category will help you to quickly learn 50 songs! Well, I’m not really sure how many songs Polo has to learn. Today he know about 5 or 6. By the end of this week that # will probably double as we are back on the road again. Knowing what to sing is only a portion of the exercise. There’s so much more to do to be ready to walk on stage, trust me! Congratulations Polo on hitting the stage in a week.
3) What do I mean “uninhibited”? You have to have a desire deep within you to explore, to be unafraid to go where you’ve heard no one go before. Don’t hold back, don’t restrain… go for it! That is what “Vocal Play” is all about.
Yes, Polo has some huge shoes to fill replacing Jamal… there is no way to get around that. But it is also important for him to be himself. That’s the thing!
N7+1 performing “Ready Or Not” (Oct 17, 2010)
I’m getting excited just thinking about all the possibilities that lie in the future. I’ll speak for the others and say… we look forward to moving forward and WE WELCOME POLO TO THE BAND.
See you all soon in a town near you.
Roger, over and out.
Photos: Sandra Tasek