**Yes, this is going up way later than I typically do the annual review. You have my heartfelt apologies and a sincere promise to get the 2015 review up in January, 2016. If you want to help out with these types of posts (or any other types of posts), I could always use some help. Just email me at email@example.com.
While it seemed like nothing could top 2013 in terms of the expanding global reach of a cappella music, 2014 found ways to do precisely that. Pentatonix once again led the way with some remarkable achievements in their quest for mainstream pop relevance, Peter Hollens was signed to a Sony record label, and The Sing Off continued to create a variety of new and amazing offshoots.
We begin, of course, with Pentatonix. A comprehensive list of the performances, appearances, and other relevance would be impossible (for me), but let’s review a few of the most noteworthy items. We begin, of course, with record releases and sales. In May, the group was signed to RCA Records. As with 2013, they released a new pop music EP (PTX Vol. III) and a Christmas album (That’s Christmas to Me). The first reached number 5 on the Billboard 200 album chart and with 46,000 sales in the first week, but it was the latter that truly exploded. That’s Christmas to Me hit number 2 on the Billboard 200, was one of only 4 albums to go PLATINUM all year (the other 3? Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, and the Frozen soundtrack). It was the highest-charting Christmas album by a group since 1962. The global superstars of a cappella have nearly 8 million followers on YouTube and close to 900 million views.
Ok, welcome back. So, PTX sold a lot of records. What kind of opportunities does that bring with it? Just a few things like…
- Appearing on SESAME STREET (Bonus)
- Singing on a float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Performing at the Kennedy Center Honors
- Performing on the NBC Christmas Tree lighting special
- Performing at the opening of a joint Baz Luhrman-Barneys New York collaboration
- Introducing Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj at the American Music Awards (Bonus)
Their 2015 is off to an amazing start with sold out shows around the country and announcements that they will appear in this year’s Pitch Perfect 2, be opening on tour for Kelly Clarkson, and are rumored to be working on an album of all originals. Their meteoric ascent continues to astound.
Nothing else in 2014 a cappella news compares to the Pentatonix story, but here’s what else was noteworthy.
Noteworthy Recordings and Releases
The House Jacks released an album, “Pollen,” in which each track features a collaboration with a different international a cappella group.
The Swingle Singers released the first of two new albums on the way, “Weather to Fly.”
Peter Hollens was signed to the Sony Masterworks label, and its imprint Portrait Records released his first full-length album in October. The album features collaborations with a variety of artists, the most notable of which is the legendary Beach Boys songwriter/performer/co-founder Brian Wilson.
Gentleman’s Rule released a live album, Live at the Star Plaza.
Ball in the House released the EP “Move.”
Voices Only (*for whom I am an associate producer) released the 10th anniversary edition of the annual compilation, and the first to feature high school groups. It also released non-scholastic compilation “Forte III.”
The Funx released the EP “Louder.”
Voces8 released an album on Decca Classic called “Eventide” which was recorded at Abbey Road studios.
Canada’s eh440 released their debut album, “Turn Me Up,” and a stylish video
VoicePlay released an 8-song EP called “Collide.”
The Women’s A Cappella Association (WACA) released their first compilation, the Best of Women’s A Cappella.
CASA released the Sing 11 compilation, which was selected from a record 170 artist submissions and over 1200 individual track submissions. The compilation featured eight original songs and seven international selections, which was the most ever.
The Bonner Jazzchoir from Germany celebrated its 10th anniversary by releasing “Bottle This Moment.”
This compilation of Italian a cappella was released.
Sing Off season 2 winners Committed released a holiday album, “Home for Christmas.”
Musical Island Boys won the big prize at the Barbershop Harmony Society international competition.
Television and Movies
The Sing Off returned for a very truncated single episode “season,” won by the Vanderbilt Melodores, which was seen by more than 5 million people.
A cappella documentary “Sounds Good To Me” was released for online rental, which you can check out here.
Tours and Performances
The Sing Off tour in 2014, featuring Home Free, VoicePlay, and The Filharmonic, sold out approximately two-thirds of its shows across the country, showing there is still significant interest in the show.
Duwende and m-pact co-developed, produced, and launched a project called “I Wish For All Time.” The show involves an a cappella tribute to the music of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, and has performed to sold-out audiences around the country.
Vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, who helped Caroline Shaw win a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for her composition “Partita for 8 Voices,” performed at the pre-show for the Grammy awards and actually won an award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.
The first annual SheSings festival featured headlining groups Honey Whiskey Trio and The Riveters.
Sing Off competitors The Exchange spent part of 2014 opening for The Backstreet Boys on their European tour.
Colorado-based vocal band Face opened for Bon Jovi.
Musae performed in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The 2014 CARA awards were once again announced at the Boston Sings festival. You can find the complete list here.
Rockapella received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Boston Sings festival. The group also said farewell to bass George Baldi III and welcomed former Ball in the House bass Ryan Chappelle.
Deltacappella released “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opera and was on Grammy ballot- opera for voices and performers; the original full length a cappella opera recorded by DeltaCappella and Opera Memphis was picked up by Albany Records and made it onto the Grammy ballot. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. See www.operaacappella.com
Fuse TV released this report about viral a cappella.
In October, NYC-based group The Lost Keys held an intimate online performance on Concert Window, at the conclusion of which they announced their Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their debut EP.
Straight No Chaser has been handed Jim Nabors’ crown and beat out many other marquee performers to sing “Back Home In Indiana” at the Indy 500 this coming May. Later in the year, they were featured in this touching video welcoming home U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Savali from the Middle East.
Our Danish friends Postyr (formerly Postyr Project) had a busy year, with the exit of tenor Andreas Bech (replaced by Morten Bylofte), the publication of their book “Icebreakers- A Practical Approach to Group Dynamics,” and the introduction of their first international summer camp, which welcomed 50 participants from 11 countries. They also entered a collaboration with the international fashion brand Vero Moda, who has picked the Postyr song Run Run Run for their Spring campaign video.
Home Free was inducted in the Country Music Association (and was praised by Buzzfeed for doing this).
Much to our dismay, The Boxettes broke up. Here’s to hoping for a reunion down the road.
Apparently, a cappella is a big thing in Silicon Valley tech companies.
SING!, The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival, expanded to three cities in Texas: SING! Tyler, SING! San Antonio and SING! Austin. Watch for these festivals to grow in 2015. SING! Toronto moved to its new home in the Distilery Historic District, welcoming more CASA groups in 2014.
A collaboration of commissions from some of the best vocal arrangers in the world (Mark Kibble and Cedric Dent of Take 6, Don Hart and Paul Langford of Glad, Phil Mattson, Michele Weir from every vocal jazz group, Anders Edenroth of The Real Group, Johnathon Rathbone of the Swingle Singers, Matthew Selby and Britt Quentin from m-pact, and Darmon Meader of New York Voices) for an a cappella hymn project sung by SoundStage called One Savior One Voice was released.
Camp Acappella exploded in popularity with 200% of attendance from the year before.
Online virtual group Accent met in person for the first time and performed at the _ festival in Sweden.
An improvised “radio show jingle” by Club For Five! Suomipop radio station has over 1.5M listeners per week and a coverage of 4.5M of the population in Finland (total 5.5M) making it the most popular radio channel.
Tim Hauser, a vocal group pioneer and founder of The Manhattan Transfer, and pop music historian, passed away on October 14, 2014.
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London will offer a degree in beatboxing.
Speaking of beatboxing, apparently you can get Google Translate to do just that.
Naturally 7 was featured on the Yahoo Music page for their cover of Coldplay’s Fix You.
Obviously, there was plenty more which we just could not cover. PLEASE feel free to leave a comment with your group’s news from 2014 or anything which you know we omitted.
2015 is already off to a great start, so check back next January (I promise) for a full accounting.