The Real Group is a groundbreaking Swedish vocal group, today considered one of the cornerstones of modern a cappella music. With the voice as their sole instrument they have created a unique musical expression, moving seamlessly across the boundaries of genre, with jazz, pop and Northern European choral music as a strong foundation.
Formed in 1984, The Real Group has been touring across the globe for more than 30 years. They’re is widely established and esteemed, not only for their ability to create distinctively varied, playful and inventive arrangements within the frame of their five voices, but also for their warm, intelligent original compositions. In 2019, the group was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by The Contemporary A Cappella Society in the United States.
The Real Group is frequently touring, with large audiences in Asia, North America and Europe. Recent tours have also taken them to New Zealand and South Africa, among other places. Their way of combining perfection with great warmth and personality has made them accessible to music enthusiasts in general as well as to the more demanding ear. Their wide repertoire and musical excellence have made it possible for the group to collaborate with symphony orchestras, jazz groups, pop bands and notable artists such as Barbara Hendricks, Toots Thielemans and Sir George Martin, as well as performing for the Royal Family in Sweden, opening the FIFA World Cup in South Korea and singing for state officials all over the world - including the Emperor of Japan.
Apart from their extensive touring, The Real Group has produced more than 20 CD’s in their own name, TV-shows on national TV as well as being artistic directors for several a cappella festivals, the most recent being the annual SMV Real Group Festival, which was launched in Creston, Iowa (US) in 2018.
The vocal formation SLIXS does not have any instrumentals (so the description A-Cappella would, therefore, be correct) although their music has absolutely nothing to do with the widespread clichés which are usually associated with this genre. With this unusual vocal band, both pigeonhole lovers as well as strict purists will have poor cards.
Their will for innovation and boldness in treading new artistic ground is rewarded with packed concert halls and coveted trophies (incl. also the CARA for the best a cappella jazz song, worldsong and classical song of the year).
The name SLIXS stands for undisputed top class vocal music!
In 2013, they started collaborating with Bobby McFerrin to celebrate his VOCAbuLarieS with him. They performed together again on his tour across Europe in 2014.
After SLIXS had once been commissioned to arrange instrumental music by J. S. Bach for a German movie and to perform it purely vocally, the sextet released the soundtrack of the film in January 2014 under the title "Quer Bach".
The overwhelming success of the CD "Quer Bach", which was released in 2014, brought up the idea to create a live program, that contains mainly instrumental compositions from Bach arranged for the voices of SLIXS.
The Finnish word Rajaton translates as "boundless" – a word that so accurately describes the way this six-voice a cappella ensemble approaches music. Regularly performing around a hundred concerts and workshops each year, Rajaton exposes their audiences to the kind of diversity of repertoire, singing style, and stage presentation that has made them a phenomenon on the world stage.
Performing at concert halls, jazz and choral festivals, and with various orchestras, this distinct group of musicians approaches all styles of music with the same level of commitment and integrity, making it difficult to imagine an audience that they could not inspire, or a type of music they could not make their own. In their native Finland, Rajaton is a bona fide pop phenomenon, successfully bridging the gap that often exists between classical and mainstream convention.
Rajaton has released 17 different albums. In 2020, Rajaton celebrates 23 years of music-making with one double platinum, three platinum and eight gold records in Finland under their belt, as their worldwide record sales are drawing over 400.000 copies altogether.
Ever seeking new artistic challenges, the group has grown immeasurably through collaborations with other a cappella artists, including The King’s Singers and The Real Group, as well as productions with film directors and choreographers. But it is perhaps their deep passion for choral art, their generosity of spirit and their sheer enjoyment of singing that has won the hearts and acclaim of audiences and critics everywhere. Their energy – infectious; their ability to entertain and inspire – Rajaton!
The voice is boundless.
Using nothing but their voices and innovative live-looping techniques, genre-bending FreePlay takes you from the concert halls of Europe, to the jazz clubs of Manhattan, to the temples of India, and back to their native Toronto, Canada… all without leaving your seat. From Bach to Bird to the Beatles, Dylan and Suba effortlessly cross musical boundaries, continually combining and recombining sounds to create a concert of endless variety, with the intimate delivery of two people. Imagine Simon and Garfunkel crossed with a Bach 2-part invention… or an acrobatic jazz melody combined with ancient Indian beats… or an 8-part vocal arrangement created by two singers… and you’ll get a glimpse of what FreePlay has to offer. Dylan and Suba first met in Toronto in 1993, singing in a jazz choir at York University called “Wibijazz’n’”: soon after, they started directing the choir together. At their year-end concert, Dylan and Suba performed an a cappella “director’s duet”, and FreePlay was born. What started as a typical voice-and-piano jazz duo began to evolve: more instruments were added, and more musical styles explored, to create a duo unique in its musical depth and variety. In 2007, FreePlay created the uniquely innovative, all-a cappella live looping performance style that has earned them international recognition.
FreePlay’s diverse concert program has taken them across Canada and around the world, with performances at major music festivals spanning six continents. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2009, and their most recent album, Go Back Forward, was released in 2018.
Partners offstage as well as onstage, Dylan and Suba delight in exploring music together, bringing this joy to audiences worldwide. ★★★★½ (Advertiser, Adelaide). ‘Beautiful and Impressive!’ (Sara Davey, The Swingles).
The Idea of North is a quintet of musicians, serious about their music without taking themselves too seriously. The members of The Idea of North (TION) have studied in some of Australia’s foremost music schools – the Elder Conservatorium attached to Adelaide University, the Victorian College of the Arts, and the Canberra School of Music attached to the ANU. Starting out as a hobby way back in university days, the group of friends quickly realised the potential for more and went full-time in 1998.
TION has developed an enviable reputation within Australia and overseas, and has been described by James Morrison as ‘the best contemporary vocal quartet in Australia’. TION has performed often with James Morrison and both he and Don Burrows are featured on a number of TION’s recordings, alongside such artists as Lior, Kristin Berardi, Rajaton (Finland) and Elena Kats-Chernin. The group has also established a very significant reputation overseas where they travel frequently for festivals, concerts, workshops and corporate events. Countries regularly visited include the USA and many different countries in both Europe and Asia. They have hosted and/or performed at a number of major festivals in such arenas as The Lincoln Centre in New York, the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington DC and similar venues in Asia, and performed alongside vocal group greats such as The Manhattan Transfer, Take 6, Naturally 7 and The Real Group (Sweden).
In 2003 TION won The Harmony Sweepstakes in the USA. This is one of the largest international a cappella competitions in the world, open to any a cappella group of three to seven people singing in any musical style or genre. In its (then) twenty-year history, this was the first time that the winner was an ensemble from outside the USA. It is one of many awards for performing, writing, arranging and recording that TION has garnered over the years. They have produced thirteen albums (their seventh, a collaboration with James Morrison, won the 2010 ARIA award for ‘Best Jazz Album’, their eighth was nominated for the same award and also won the Limelight ‘Best Jazz Album’ award, and their tenth won the 2013 ARIA award, again for Best Jazz Album) and a live, in-concert DVD. 2014 saw the group honoured by an induction into the ACT Hall of Fame. In 2015, the group met and fell musically in love with Kaichiro Kitamura, vocal percussionist extraordinaire, and made the leap to expand to a quintet formation. They have enjoyed a significant rise in popularity and breadth of audience base since then, with Kai’s incredible talents adding a new, thrilling dimension to the group’s sound.
Certain experiences burn themselves in your memory from the very first encounter. The jaw-dropping audio pyrotechnics that Naturally 7 put on display every night absolutely belong in that category. “A capella group” so vastly underplays what they create onstage that they had to coin a phrase - “Vocal Play” - to more accurately depict what they do. Naturally 7 is more than a tightly orchestrated collection of great singers. They transform their voices into actual human instruments, effortlessly producing music of any genre. Their vocal choreography is so perfectly interwoven that they compelled the musical maestro himself, Quincy Jones, to declare them “The best a cappella group in the world!” Their sonic mastery was on full display in a series of unforgettable performances on “The World’s Best” TV show, which premiered on CBS immediately following Super Bowl LIII. Hosted by comedian and “Car Karaoke” collaborator, James Corden, Naturally 7 reigned supreme as the world’s “Best Group”, and cemented their singular status among the planet’s musical elite.
This was only icing on the cake of a still-vibrant 20-year career, which includes 3 world tours - nearly 500 shows - with the incomparable Michael Bublé, shared billing with global phenomenon Coldplay - including a sold out show at the Barclays Center - and owned the spotlight in a pair of national Cheerios commercials. In addition to Bublé, Naturally 7 has shared the stage with numerous icons, including Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, Sarah Connor, Lionel Richie, Ludacris, The Roots, and more. Counted among their world-famous fans are President Barack Obama, Will.I.Am., Ellen DeGeneres, Craig Ferguson, Bill and Melinda Gates, Jay Leno, Allan Titchmarsh, Mo’Nique, Jools Holland, and Arsenio Hall, along with countless others.
With the release of their latest project, 20/20, Naturally 7 comes full circle, adding a fresh spin on 20 fan favorites, hand selected by fans the world over. This, their eleventh studio album, celebrates their 20th anniversary in the music industry, giving music lovers all they could hope for, and then some. For the members of Naturally 7 - “Ricky“ Lee Ricardo Cort, Rod Eldridge, Kelvin “Kelz“ Mitchell, Sean Simmonds, Dwight Stewart, Roger Thomas, and Warren Thomas - it’s a privilege to do what they love and bring so much joy to the hearts of their fans each and every night. It’s exactly what you would expect. When something is pure magic it’s destined to withstand the test of time. Naturally…
( Photo Credit: YAMIL LAGE )
Everything began in 1989, as a game in their leisure at Havana Arts University, when they simulated the sound of di erent instruments with their voices. This way and, little by little, they went tuning their throats to the sound of the metals, the percussions and the strings and created the unique sound of Vocal Sampling.
1993 “Una forma mas” was their debut album. Henceforth, the sextet conformed by professional musicians has been protagonist of a beautiful musical career that has taken them to the most important and diverse scenarios all over the world. The group have gained the attention of artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon.
In 1996, at the artists’ invitation, Vocal Sampling performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival alongside artists such as Chaka Khan, Phil Collins, Mick Hucknall and Toots Thielemans to celebrate Quincy Jones’s 50 years career.
Vocal Sampling has had a very busy tour schedule. Every year they have been present in the most important circuits of the World Music and Jazz of Europe, as well as Japan, Latin and North America.... Explanade Hall in Singapore, Ronie Scott Club in London, New Morning Club in Paris, Vienna Opera House, Opera Theatre in Tel Aviv, Hollywood Bawl in L.A., among others, have brought their music to all kind of audiences, as well as festivals like WOMAD Festival in England and Spain, Montreux Jazz Festival, Vienna, Vancouver, Paris, New York, Miami, WOMEX in Berlin, Paleo Festival Nyon in Switzerland, Festival Printemps de Bourges in France, April Jazz in Finland,. ..Following a hugely successful tour of the United States in 1995 they have continued to tour throughout Latin America, Europe and Japan.
In August 2000 during the BBC Proms, Vocal Sampling made a huge impact when they performed in a sold-out Royal Albert Hall. On the back of this success, in 2001 the group released a very successful album, “Cambio de Tiempo” that got 3 nominations for the “Latin Grammy Awards 2002 ” on the categories of “Best Recording Engineering”, “Best Tropical Music Album” - “Producer of the Year and Best Produced Song”.
2006, release of the album “Akapelleando”. 2013, on December, they performed at the Shanghai’s World Music Festival. 2014, they made a tour around Europe and Asia, including festivals in Madrid, Canarias and Borneo. During that summer, they performed in festivals in Brazil and Mexico. On December they were nominated in Cuba to the Luca's Award for their most recent video “El lunes que viene empiezo” which will be included in their next CD that is already in progress.
Vocal Sampling has performed in two of the three editions of the Festival Leo Brouwer de Música de Cámara that has taken place in Havana. 2015, a new show “So Sampling” will be presented with concerts in Mexico and China.... 2017, their latest album "Así de Sampling" has been launched with concerts in Europe, Asia and Latin America. 2018/2019 : différents tours in Europe and Asia. New CD release in China with concerts and TV show.
2020 : To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Vocal Sampling wishes to mark this event with an original creation that will reveal a whole new repertoire, but also new facets of its vocal talent and a collaboration with a symphony orchestra. They will offer a classical and contemporary repertoire which will consist mainly of works written by great Cuban composers as well as by René Baños Pascual, musical director and band leader.
Prestigious concerts are already scheduled in october 2020 with the Austrian Tonkunstler Orchester at the Musikverein in Vienna and at the Festspiel St-Poelten (Austria),and in February 2021 with the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen at the BASF Feierabendhaus in Ludwigshafen (Germany)
New York Voices was born in the mid-1980s at upstate New York’s Ithaca College. Peter Eldridge, an aspiring jazz pianist who came late to singing; Kim Nazarian, who dreamed of a life on Broadway; and Darmon Meader, a saxophonist and self-described “choral geek,” came together in the school’s vocal jazz ensemble. Director Dave Reilly included all three of them, as well as Caprice Fox, in an ensemble he’d been invited to bring on a tour of European jazz festivals. “It seemed to go over so well that Darmon and I decided to keep it going, try to make something happen professionally,” Eldridge recalls. “Kim and Caprice were part of that original band, and we slowly but surely made the transition to New York City in 1988.” There they met Sara Krieger, who became the fifth member of the band Reilly had named “New York Voices.”
One of their debut performance’s as a quintet was at Preacher’s, a club in Greenwich Village, which launched the beginning of a sizable following and noise enough to start attracting the interest of record labels. They signed with GRP in 1989 and quickly made their first recording, New York Voices, a mix of acoustic and electric, traditional and crossover jazz. They then hit the road, touring America in a motor home and making their first international excursions as they worked to build a worldwide audience.
Krieger left the band after their second album (1991’s Hearts of fire), which began a long, arduous search for a new fifth voice. While that process was underway, Eldridge had what was intended as a one-off songwriting session with Lauren Kinhan; impressed with her soprano vocal, he suggested she audition. “We’d heard maybe 70 auditions and hadn’t found the right fit,” says Eldridge. “Lauren came in and sang ‘God Bless the Child’ for us, and I remember looking at Darmon and going, ‘Oh. Okay.’”
After two more years as a quintet, Fox moved on to other things in 1994. The band had hoped that featuring five voices would stave off comparisons to vocal-jazz powerhouse The Manhattan Transfer (it didn’t), but their increasing self-confidence—and their difficulty in finding Kinhan—led them to decide to continue on as a foursome. They declared their new identity with 1997’s New York Voices Sing the Songs of Paul Simon.
With the dawn of the 21st century, NYV increased its currency in the jazz world via collaborations with institutions such as the Count Basie Orchestra, Paquito d’Rivera, and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. They also launched a jazz education initiative, inaugurating its Vocal Jazz Camp for aspiring jazz singers in 2008. (A European version of the Camp began in 2016). Each of its members has also established a career as an educator: Eldridge is a voice professor at Berklee College of Music; Nazarian is vocal jazz instructor at Ithaca College and artist-in-residence at both Bowling Green State University and Tri-C Community College in Cleveland; Kinhan is an adjunct faculty member at New York University; and Meader is an artist in residence at Indiana University.
The geographical distance that these jobs require, along with each member’s active solo pursuits, is partly responsible for the long gap between New York Voices albums. Yet Reminiscing in Tempo finds both their individual chops and their collective chemistry to be as powerful as ever—and kicks off what NYV hopes will be another long stretch of work together. “The things that I’m really proud of are our longevity, which just surprises and shocks all of us; the fact that our music has grown and gotten better; and the fact that we all still want to make music together,” says Nazarian. “We’re not done yet. We all have a little something more to say together.”
Individually, the four members are involved in a variety of projects including solo performances and recordings, teaching, writing and arranging. To learn more about the NYV individual members, please visit their websites.
That Home Free is country music’s only real a cappella group is a novelty that, on the radio or on record, might only occur to listeners after the fact, since arrangements that are so fully fleshed out — and we do mean fleshed out, as opposed to machined out — have a way of tricking the ear. In concert, of course, it’s a different story: all at once, from first row to last, jaws drop at the first sight of all those throats in action, followed by nodding, dancing and even crying as the group’s powerful musical storytelling unfolds.
Home Free are returning with their fourth studio album, Dive Bar Saints, and there are a lot of new wrinkles to their story. But that most critical element remains intact. Listening to the leadoff track, “Remember This,” you might wonder if they’ve finally just given in and added instrumentation to their previously all-vocal catalog? Not to worry; that’s just an optical illusion. “We’re completely a cappella. At all times,” Tim Foust assures us, laughing that the question still comes up. Foust is the bass player of the group… the bass voice player, that is. “Never say never,” he adds, asked if they might ever consider giving Nashville’s finest studio musicians some employment, “but that’s what sets us apart. I mean, when we collaborated with Charlie Daniels, we let him play his fiddle, but that’s about it.”
So there’s no breaking news alert to be had there, on the all-vocals front. But Dive Bar Saints does have a few other fresh headlines for the group, as their first album since they took full control of their recording career. Home Free had been on a major label ever since finding national fame via NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” the a cappella competition show they won in 2013, after more than a decade on the road. This new album, though, is coming out on Home Free Records, which will be distributed by The Orchard globally. And it’s not just the imprint that’s changing as they take the reins. On Dive Bar Saints, 10 of the 12 tracks are newly penned songs — the greatest amount of original material they’ve ever included on an album — with two band members stepping up in a big way as featured co-writers.
Making an album of almost exclusively new tunes wouldn’t necessarily be such a huge deal for most other country acts, but for Home Free, there was the possibility that fans might see it as a violation of their prime directive, or at least a shift away from what they’ve come to know and love — which is that this is the only country group in the world that delivers joltingly fresh, new, all-vocal arrangements of well-known songs from in and out of the genre. So the group took it to the fans, asking them if they’d mind an album of predominantly unheard songs, and those devotees made their own voices heard: The “covers” part isn’t what we care about most — don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
“I really do feel like this is a turning point for us,” says Rob Lundquist, the group’s tenor harmony singer. “It’s the first time where we are going to have more original content than covers. It feels great now that we’ve had the community of songwriters actually coming to us and presenting us with songs that they wanted to be on the album. But it’s coming from within, too — Tim, our bass singer, co-wrote a couple of songs, and Austin Brown, our high tenor, co-wrote a couple songs.” Adds Brown, “Every time we have mentioned we have an album coming out and that it’s almost all originals, people explode. Lord knows we wouldn’t have expected that, but all signs point toward it being not just what fans want, but what they crave.”
Between the one-of-a-kind nature of the group, their established global appeal, and the types of theaters they usually play, Home Free are not exactly what you would call a “bar band.” From the fall of 2019 through the fall of 2020, they’ll be on their Dive Bar Saints World Tour, playing about a hundred shows in 16 nations, triumphantly returning to the UK for the fourth time and hitting other European countries like Italy and Switzerland for the first. The U.S. leg of that tour will be capped off by a special two-night stand at Nashville’s iconic Ryman Auditorium. All to say: very few actual honky-tonks are on the itinerary.
Women of the World was formed to bring women musicians from across the globe onto a common platform to collaborate and create through the sharing of music, to explore and celebrate the differences in ideologies and cultural tenets that exist in the daily lives of women all over the world.
Ayumi Ueda, a Berklee College of Music alumna from Japan, sought to create a multicultural ensemble that not only crossed boundaries musically, but one that was also committed to the daily practice of peace in their daily interactions. Ayumi joined forces with like-minded vocal artists, Giorgia Renosto from Italy, Annette Philip from India, Débòrah Pierre from USA/Haiti, and Patrick Simard (percussion) to manifest this vision.
The Women of the World repertoire is thus, vast and varied. Constantly searching for new genres to explore, the group has performed in 31 languages (and counting) including Bulgarian, Cuban, Ladino, Brazilian, Turkish, African, Haitian, Indian, Italian and Japanese music.
In many ways, the ensemble is a microcosm of the world. Each of the musicians has a strong artistic identity shaped by the culture in which they grew up, and each finds endless excitement in learning and exploring the many cultures of the world. The unique music which stems forth from this cross-pollination of genres, rhythms and global sounds is thus borderless and spirited, carrying the undeniable message of unity.
Through their work, Women of the World created a stir in the community, receiving support from renowned artists such as Grammy-award winning maestro, Bobby McFerrin. They went on to share the stage with African vocal icon, Angelique Kidjo, and the Boston Pops Orchestra led by maestro conductor Keith Lockhart.
2017 world champions of the International A Cappella competition OPEN by Varsity Vocals, 2014 Harmony Sweepstakes National champions, nominees of the 2013 Boston Music Awards and 2014 Independent Music Awards, Women of the World has extensively toured North America and Asia.
Women of the World continues to serve as cultural ambassadors of peace and unity through music and has delighted audiences at venues like Carnegie Hall, Blue Note Jazz Club, Boston Symphony Hall, the Kennedy Center, The Apollo Theater as well as through collaborations with the United Nations, amongst others.
Channeling the power of collective action, Women of the World has brought together over 200 women from all over the globe believing in their music, in their bond as a family of artists, and in peace.
Women of the World has released 3 CDs, Koloro (2012), Makana (2016) Live (2017)
For more than half a century, The Swingles have pushed the boundaries of vocal music. The seven young singers that make up today’s London-based group are driven by the same innovative spirit that has defined the five-time Grammy® winners since they first made waves in the 1960s. At a time when a cappella music is more popular than ever, The Swingles are recognised as masters of their craft.
In 1963, American-born Ward Swingle first assembled a group of Parisian session singers to sing Bach’s keyboard music. The resulting album, Jazz Sebastian Bach, launched the Swingle Singers to fame. Since then, they have won five Grammy® awards and made more than 50 recordings, with a repertoire that has grown to include a huge variety of music, including new original songs. They have also appeared on numerous film and TV soundtracks, including Sex and the City, Milk, Grey’s Anatomy and Glee. In 2017, they co-wrote and performed a song for the end credits of Alexander Payne’s acclaimed film Downsizing.
Released in March 2017, The Swingles’ latest project is Folklore, a diverse collection of folk music from around the world, inspired by their international travels and featuring collaborations with traditional artists. With creative arrangements that transport these well-loved songs into the group’s unique and rich sound world, the results are powerful and surprising.
The group’s versatility has led to collaborations with artists as diverse as the Modern Jazz Quartet, Jamie Cullum and Labrinth. Luciano Berio was one of the first composers to explore the sound of the Swingles’ amplified voices in an orchestral setting with his groundbreaking Sinfonia. The group continue to perform the piece to great acclaim around the world, with recent performances at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, London’s Royal Festival Hall and Milan’s La Scala; they look forward to bringing it to new audiences for its 50th anniversary in 2018-19.
In addition to a busy touring schedule that regularly takes them to North and South America, Europe and Asia, The Swingles present their own London A Cappella Festival at Kings Place each January in partnership with Ikon Arts Management. The festival is the first of its kind in the capital, welcoming the finest vocal talent from around the world.
The award-winning vocal band ONAIR (Berlin, Germany) is one of the shooting stars in the world of a
cappella music. ONAIR exploded onto the scene in 2013 and have fast established themselves as one of Europe’s most exciting a cappella groups.
Well on their way to the elite of the world’s vocal ensembles, ONAIR have been racking up 1st prizes
in vocal ensemble competitions ever since their début in 2013. They were the winners of contests in
Aarhus (2013), Graz (2013), Taiwan (2014), Tampere (2015), Moscow (2018 and 2019 – GRAND PRIX) and were awarded with 2 CARAs in the US.
ONAIR is known for artful vocal arrangements, for an intense energy and stage presence and strong
emotional connection between the singers on stage as well as a for a powerful, transparent even
sometimes ethereal sound.
With lavish interpretations of songs by rock and pop icons such as Led Zeppelin, Prince, Queen and Whitney Houston, expect a show full of innovation and drama.
ONAIR comprises: André Bachmann (tenor), Kristofer Benn (bass), Marta Helmin (soprano), Jennifer Kothe (soprano), Patrick Oliver (baritone, vocal percussion).