The lead singer swallowed, looked left and right, stared into the distance then sang with a hint of fear.
Deke Sharon, the father of modern a capella, held an a capella workshop Thursday evening for UMD Treblemakers, Pandemonium and Kol Sasson.
The night began with a Treblemakers’ soloist practicing the song “Titanium.” She wrung her hands and her voice quivered slightly. Following the song, Sharon leapt onto the stage and immediately began to critique the group.
“The coy, demure thing is not your thing, guys are not the only ones who can have all the fun,” he told them.
Sharon explained that what should be most powerful is the lead vocal, followed by the bass and percussion. He rearranged the group slightly in this order, putting the singers behind the lead vocalist. In doing this, he created a wall of sound to back her up.
Sharon did not do anything to critique the lead singer. With this new wall of sound behind her, she stared into the audience with a new conviction.
In a similar way, Sharon critiqued the other groups. He not only assessed sound, but made it clear that movement is a vital part of the presentation.
Pandemonium sang Alt-J’s “Every Other Freckle,” telling Sharon it was their goal to make the song sound “creepy and sexual.”
On their first round, swaying about the stage, twisting and turning, looking about as they sang, they almost pulled it off. However, Sharon said they needed to twist more slowly, and fully confront their audience.
“Pick someone in the audience,” he said.“Make them squirm in their seat.” Sharon told the singers that, at the end of the song, they need to twist about while singing and make direct eye contact with one audience member.
The mood of this song directly juxtaposed the preceding one, which proliferated, in Sharon’s words, a resigned sorrow. In order to add a richness to this sorrow, Sharon said the performers needed to focus on their shoulders. They needed their shoulders to hang like the weight that was already present in their words.
Each song Sharon critiqued was noticeably different afterwards, even though he only changed small details.
Sharon told the groups, “The last thing is, no fear.”
There will be an official a capella performance called Vocalocity with vocalists chosen by Deke Sharon on Friday, Feb. 19.
Featured Photo Credit: Singers from UMD Treblemakers, an all girls a cappella group, during Thursday evening’s rehearsal. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Raye Weigel is a sophomore multiplatform journalism and English major and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.