I hope this note finds you well. I am and quite rested because I’ve been at home for eight days since our last road trip. I did spend some time in the studio with some of the N7/ATL guys (band members who live in Atlanta). We are working on numerous things such as jingles for radio stations and new material for our next album. I’ll give you more details about that on another day.
The purpose of this Roundtrip is to go back and talk a little bit about our last two cities we performed in: Indianapolis and Raleigh (SoJam).
Ok, where do I start?
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (USA)
We spent two full days in Indianapolis…
Shortly after landing, we were treated to dinner at the home of our Indy friends Jolene and Brian Allen. I’d like to thank them for opening their home to our big crew (11total). We all had a good time and enjoyed all of the wild topics of conversation :-). How do we know we are having a good time? When David ushers us out before we are ready to go! It was for the best as we had early morning TV the next day.
We performed “Keep the Customer Satisfied (aka KTCS)” on the “Indy Style Morning Show”on WISH-TV with a nice neat interview. Our voices seemed to be intact, which is always a blessing in the morning. From there we went to Butler University (our hosts for Indianapolis event).
First order of business was a workshop with the Jordan Jazz Vocal Ensemble, an institution for 30+ years at Butler University and directed by Dr. Tim Brimmer (I love when a director shows that he is passionate about working with his students.) They sang for us (++++) and we gave them some pointers. This session was led by Polo who had listened and read the sheet music in advance. By the time that session ended we had them singing some of the “mouth stylings” we choose when imitating a horn section instead of “da dadats”. Let’s say we gave them a little homework for the next day’s session.
That session was followed by our sound check for the concert next day and flowed right into another TV interview.
The host of the show said she was a local singer in Indianapolis and wanted us to sing along with her. She broke out into Alicia Keys’ “Falling” and we, to my surprise, joined her! It actually sounded pretty good for freestyle :-). We did the interview and continued the sound check.
All I remember after that, as it was later than we wanted it to be, is the need for sleep. We all knew it was going to be an active weekend so we all made sure we slept well that night. (I should take my own advice more often.)
Friday consisted of two more workshops; one with Jordan Jazz to finish up where we left off (they did their homework) and the other with a large group of talented high school students from several schools in the area. They had met previous to the session to showcase a song for us. Hops took lead chair on this session as he is the expert on the topic of Negro Spirituals. He’s actually written and arranged quite a few and is a former member of the Oakwood University Aeolians in Huntsville, Alabama. It was just as moving to see Hops get into it as it was to hear the music itself. Both he and Dr. Brimmer got really emotional and really took the large choir to higher heights. You had to be there…and speaking of being there…
After doing the first workshop for the day, I realized it might be nice to invite a few of our fans who were coming to see the evening concert. I’d like to take this time to thank all of you that came from far and near including the “FreN7s” who came out in sizable numbers! We really appreciate all the love and the special gifts you all bring. (Loved those shirts and the photo albums were like “Wow!”) Those of you that Kia was able to reach in time, I hope you enjoyed yourself at the workshop. Let me know on Twitter!
One interesting thing I remember in that session is that during the Q & A, someone asked if we could just sing… regular…which usually means “no vocal play”.
I’m kinda always thrown off by that question, although we immediately gave her what she asked for. It’s interesting because people (singers, non- singers, musicians, non-musicians) make a big distinction between the two…and several times assume that maybe we can do all these sounds but maybe not really just sing like a normal person :-)
It’s one thing if a person is a beat-boxer. You should not assume they can sing. They may be just good at doing beats. But for the record; if you see anyone maintaining musical notes such as imitating an instrument that produces tones that have melody and harmony, they would not be able to do that unless they can stay in tune which is what singing is all about. But in a way I understand the confusion. I think we’ve taken Vocal Play so far out of most people’s belief system that they think it is something else. That’s probably why, or perhaps I should say that IS why we sing a choral piece of about three or four songs into any full show. You can almost see it on people’s faces: “Oh my goodness…you can really sing…like a regular group! OK, now that we’ve established that…can you go back to that crazy vocal play stuff!”
It’s a beautiful thing, people.
The concert was very nice and we especially liked using the acoustics in the room to do a really nice performance of our “Simon and Garfunkel” medley (We weren’t happy how we sang it in the workshop earlier that day. Sometimes when we sing off mic, the left side of the group cannot hear the right side of the group…and vica versa ….this usually leads to certain disaster!). After the show it was very nice to see so many of the faces we know so well. Again, thanks for coming!
Special thanks to Elise Kushigan and her staff at the Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University.
Dr. Tim Brimmer (Butler University Professor of Music Education and Technology)
Jolene and her family. (Thanks for the extra Indy Promo….we really appreciate it!)
Oh wow! I forgot that we managed to fit a wardrobe fitting in Macy’s on Thursday in the middle of all this craziness!
Thanks to Danielle (stylist and designer) and Mom (her trusty assistant) and Catherine (costume designer).
A special shout out to McKenna from Jordan Jazz— she said that N7 impacted her life as a teen and being a part of the conference was a life-changing experience.
McKenna; that’s one of the reason we do this. When things get rough; we think of people like you.
SOJAM 2011: RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA (USA)
Well things do get rough when you get to the hotel after midnight and lobby call is 4am for our flights to Raleigh, NC. Hey…. you know we are used to this, but my body still doesn’t think that it’s a good idea. But the show has to go on!
The last time we played SoJam was 2007 and Hops was a brand new member. His mother and sister came out last time for moral support. A lot has changed since then. He is no longer new, he is no longer single and he now thinks we are his background singers! Just kidding… (but not really). You gotta love him. Anyway, 2011 puts us in a similar position as Polo is still quite new. Being around a cappella enthusiasts is sometimes quite refreshing to me as we spend so much time explaining what we do usually. This is a forum where most of that is out the door. We know that everyone knows what we do and we are here to share a little bit and give some insight to how we do it.
My good friend Kurt Walker met us at the airport and introduced us to Gina Deaton who was going to help us get around for the next two days. (I won’t mention anymore names from this point for fear that I forget someone.) Once we got there we went straight to work with a Q&A workshop….. Of course great questions from a large room of singers and a cappella fans.
The concert that night was incredible. Pitch Slapped (“The Sing Off” Season 2) performed first and then The Boxettes who are from the UK. The Boxettes opened for us on our German tour earlier this year. I personally think they are the best all female a cappella group I’ve ever heard on planet earth. They’ve only been together for about three years and they still have a lot to learn, but what they do is raw and unmatched right now! I’d love to write and arrange a song for them. I figure if I say that here in my blog it will be more likely to happen, right? (Neo, Alyusha, Yvette, Kim and Belle)…..You all rocked it!
I told Kurt who informed me we had 50 minutes that we’ll probably do 90. We’re just getting warm about 50 mins in :-). He said “that’s all right with me”. In 2007 we performed in a church for SoJam and I was told that the ceiling almost came down! This time it was the balcony! Everyone was jumping, dancing and having a good time. I even decided to tweet from the stage in the middle of “Can Ya Feel It?”. A lady I met later (from NYC) at the after party, shouted out, “It’s too much!” in joy as we got a little closer to the audience. It was a nice night and a shame that the live stream went down a few times.
I think I was the only member of the band who made it to the after party which gave me a chance to chat with a couple more people after our CD signing.
The next day we did a Q & A with The Boxettes. Both groups fielded a lot of questions about coming together and being on the road. (I think I saw a photo sitting next to Belle on twitter). These questions were quite a bit more in depth. As far as I’m concerned the deeper the better!
Next we did a Master Class with a group called the UNC-G Sapphires. A lot of their music involved choreography that you’d imagine at a good Broadway play. Their vocals had much of the same drama and we as a band commended them on excellent song choices. Great job, ladies!
We then did a SoJam recording which will feature members of N7 (Polo, Hops and Rod) and members of The Boxettes on a song by Elbow. Once we left the recording room after those parts were tracked, my understanding is that it will have tons of voices on it. I look forward to hearing it. We’ll create a link from our website to wherever the song is posted. It should be done sometime in the next few weeks.
After that it was time to chill out a bit with a special gathering at David’s house. I left at some point and came back when I heard James (our engineer) was doing a recording of him on guitar and Belle (The Boxettes) on vocal percussion. That, my friend, was great to watch. Trust me. During the party I played our new single “Life Goes On” which was also debuting on WBLS in New York that same day. Everyone seemed to love it and of course asked the question you are about to ask me right now…
Wait for it……
“Where or when can I buy it or hear it?”
Well the answer is this; it was supposed to be released after the Holiday season. But as we speak I think plans are changing…so stay tuned…
We’ll let you know when it is on iTunes. Right now it is being played on both coasts in the United States. LA on KTWV 94.7 The Wave and on WBLS 107.5 FM NY. You can hear it no matter where you live as long as you can log onto WBLS.com, or if you are on Facebook, there’s a WBLS page and you can listen live. With your help we hope for it to be playing everywhere across the world!
Anyway, once I got back to my hotel room I changed my flight to leave much later so I could sleep in a bit. I hate going home tired. That ended up being the right thing to do. The two city trip was a total success!
Special shout outs to: FreN7’s @Kaffy (Kathy Hrapek) who made it to both cities with us.To Kurt Walker and Gina Deaton for being great personal hosts, and the rest of the SoJam Staff. You put on a great event! And to Florian Städtler from VocalBlog (hey we’ll get to chat more next time :-)
I said I wasn’t going to say anymore names…I guess I can’t help myself. Hopefully it doesn’t get me in trouble!
Well, it has taken me eight days to write this……so please forgive me…..I will try not to let so much time go by :-)
For Thanksgiving I got to be with my family for the 3rd time over the last 10 yrs. So I’m thankful!
We travel to New York on Tuesday to bring in the Christmas season right with Mr. Michael Bublé at the Annual Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Plaza. That should air live on November 30.
Ok, that’s it for now, we’ll be in touch later.
Roger, over and out!