Hey everybody! So, I’ll make this post quick. I don’t normally pitch from this page, but I loved, loved, loved Afro Blue Vocal Band from this past season of The Sing Off. I think they did remarkably well, and, in my opinion (as well as the opinions of many others) they should have won the competition.
With that being said, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, they are working on a new project. They’re currently raising money to help fund their first EP. We can help, too. If you click this link, you’ll be taken to their fundraising page. If you all love them as much as I did, please help out. Give a little; give a lot, but they need our help and we need good music. It’s a win-win situation!
In case you’re new to my blog and haven’t read my previous entries on Afro Blue or if you weren’t watching The Sing Off last season, take a look at the video below. This group is beyond amaze-balls!
As if I couldn’t love them any more. The Sing Off’s Afro Blue Vocal Band has recorded a soul-stirring rendition of their version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” in the memory of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year old boy shot to death by George Zimmerman. If you don’t know the story you can click the link below.
Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, was shot and killed in a gated community in Florida late last month by a white neighborhood watch captain, according to police. But the watch captain, George Zimmerman — a 28-year-old who has admitted to police that he shot the young man — still walks free. And Martin’s family is pleading for answers and demanding justice. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/family-of-trayvon-martin-_n_1332756.html
The following tribute by Afro Blue Vocal Band embodies how many in our community felt during the Civil Rights Era…and sadly, still today. Rest In Paradise, young Trayvon….
Hey guys, just a quick note while I’m writing other things (wink, wink) Y’all KNOW I love this group, so please please please visit their website. You KNOW you love them too!
Soooo, those of you who tuned in on Monday know about the slander that is Afro Blue being voted off (shouts out to @AfroBlueDC on twitter) We were totally mad, right? So, at the height of my indignation, I was told to visit @BenFolds blog on nbc.com. Here’s the link. You guys read it and tell me what you think? Do we forgive him? What say you? I’m not sure how I feel yet, and from what I’ve been seeing in the blogosphere, including NBC.com……everyone is still mad……
Okay guys, so in case you didn’t know, I’m TOTALLY addicted to the show The Sing Off that comes on NBC. My favorite group was Afro Blue from Washington, DC . I really like this group because they take jazz, which can be kinda kooky-sounding to those who don’t love it and they make it something the average music listener can understand. I caught up with group member Danielle Withers to ask her a few questions about herself, the group, the show, and the quest of making jazz accessible.
Tee: Why do you think some people see jazz as something untouchable?
Danielle: I think that a lot of music today, though I love it, is pretty simple. They don’t really explore too much as it relates to song structure and chords. Most songs gravitate between two chords these days, and jazz music is like a mural of music structure in every way. And i think sometimes, when people aren’t familiar with something, it scares them. It’s not what their ears are accustomed too. However, I’ve received countless messages via facebook and twitter from people saying that said they never liked jazz before, but they love what Afro Blue is doing.
Tee: That actually leads into my next question. Why do you think Afro Blue has changed people’s perceptions of jazz and what is some feedback you’ve heard?
Danielle: We’ve put a personality behind jazz music and we’ve been blessed with this amazing platform with which to share it. Because jazz isn’t seen as commercial, we don’t see jazz artists performing on the VMAs or other similar platforms, and it can be difficult to put jazz out there. With The Sing Off as a platform, on NBC in a prime time slot, we can share this music with people who wouldn’t normally see it. Jazz isn’t as exposed as it used to be, and we’re showing the world that jazz still exists and it’s cool and here are a bunch of 20 year olds that love and you can too! You can be as excited about as we are. It proves to the world that complex music can be just as cool as the simple stuff.
Tee: Tell us some dirt about The Sing Off judges?
Danielle: *laughs* There is no dirt. They are 3 amazing musicians that we’ve all looked up to growing up and we still look up to them now. We tend to put celebrities in this magical place where they are untouchable, but they are really cool people and down to earth. They’re really friendly and we’re glad to have met them. They’re really amazing people that make really amazing music and just so happen to have grammy nominations and awards.
Tee: What was your favorite song, or episode on The Sing Off?
Danielle: My favorite episode was definitely the hip hop episode. It’s my favorite for two different reasons: 1) This was the point in the competition that the groups had established REAL friendships with each other, people had really settled into what exactly the competition was and we were all in this “we’re all in this together” mode. It was at this point where it got really fun to work with other people in other groups. 2) Killing Me Softly was my FAVORITE arrangement that Afro Blue did. This song was a true portrayal of who we all are musically, as both as arrangers and musicians. Killing Me Softly was a lot of fun to arrange and to sing. We loved it.
Tee: How did you come to join Afro Blue?
Danielle: Afro Blue is an audition-only class offered at Howard University. Initially it was only for upperclassmen, but as a freshman, I accidentally registered for it. Mrs. Miller, the director of Afro Blue, allowed me to audition anyway, and she was so impressed, she allowed me to join. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Tee: Who does Afro Blue look to, musically,or otherwise for inspiration?
Danielle: We look to The New Group, Manhattan Transfer, New York voices, definitely Take 6. We also look to the different musicians that inspire us as individuals.
Tee: What is your favorite song to perform with Afro Blue?
Danielle: American Boy is my most favorite, as it relates to The Sing Off, but it’s kind of difficult to pick just one with Afro Blue. If I had to pick, however, I’d say Everyday I Have the Blues arranged by Mrs. Miller, but it’s a transcription of the Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross version. I love singing songs with Afro Blue where we vocally imitate musical instruments. Everyday I Have the Blues is a great example of that, and that’s why I love it.
Tee: What is the one thing you feel people should know about Afro Blue?
Danielle: People should know that we’re a lot of fun, we’re really silly, we love each other, we LOVE music. All in all, we just LOVE what we do. “Life is short, but art is long.”