by Carol Sheppard
Did you go to any of the Pitch Perfect movies? I saw all three. And how about the TV show Sing Off? That was one of the reasons I joined SFJ. Deke Sharon produced all of those shows. So imagine my delight when I heard that the Harmony on the Harmony cruise would once again feature Deke Sharon and Tony De Rosa as the directors of the Sweet Adelines and Barbershoppers who sang as they sailed in the Caribbean.
Deke is known as “The Father of Contemporary A Cappella.” He has toured the United States and the world since he was eight years old, sharing his love of harmony and appearing onstage with countless bands and performers that we all enjoy. This enthusiastic singer, director, arranger, author, speaker lights up every room he is in. I was privileged to sit down with Deke for an interview during our 7-day trip.
During our rehearsals and our conversation, Deke stressed how, as singers, we have an opportunity to connect with specific audience members. We have an opportunity to give a unique gift. For those in a cappella, the voice is the instrument. It is a beautiful thing and allows us to share this joyful message with those who are listening.
Deke notes that we have the freedom and opportunity to perform in many venues and for many purposes. He continued that we need to know who we are on stage and give the performance that will reach and connect with the listeners.
Deke feels that we can also have the freedom to alter our look. As a chorus, we don’t have to always be about sequins and red lipstick. He noted instances where he had seen groups who were very understated in make-up and costuming give powerful performances that touched the audience members. Deke’s advice is to feel the freedom to do what will connect with the audience to show them the beauty of what we do. Once we do it, they will be convinced.
Joining voices in song has a rich history through the ages. Deke Sharon thinks that it is perhaps more important in these tumultuous time in our country to use a cappella as a way to bring people together. After all, he says, a chorus is made up of diversity. Vocal harmony teaches that in order to make beautiful music, we need to have the high voices and the low. And everyone enjoys the soft sweet voice. So we need to go out onstage to give a performance to show our honesty, truth, care, and love through song. It is one of the most joyful things a human being can do and when the “uninitiated” see and hear it, they will want the experience, too. People’s lives will be changed and we can knit up the things that divide us.
Deke has more to say on this through his book The Heart of Vocal Harmony, and I had a chance to put these ideas into practice as I sang with the chorus of 120 in our Saturday night program, making harmony on the Harmony.