High School/College A Capella: The Best Musical Style You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Nearly a decade ago, in January 1999, I went to visit a friend from my childhood (Brock Harris) in Los Angeles. Brock was teaching a group of high school students something called “A Capella”. I knew that A Capella meant voices only, but it never occurred to me that someone could take modern pop songs and perform them purely with vocals (at age 24 my musical horizons were more limited then they are now). What I saw blew me away – a bunch of young adults, not that much younger than me (most were 18 or so), blending their voices into amazing sounds. The group was called No Strings Attached, and I still listen to their album to this day. Sadly, that seemed to be the only CD the group put out.

Fast forward nine years later, and I enjoy A Capella more than ever. I think it’s partially because it’s nothing but the human voice – no technology beyond a microphone, no vocal auto-tuning (listen to the before and after) for sloppy vocalists, no layering of the same vocalist over and over so they sound fuller…it’s pure vocals, pure music. I tend to gravitate toward college and high school A Capella because they pick cool songs, and have great energy. I recently stumbled across A Capella videos on YouTube, and not surprisingly, there are a lot of them (especially from this guy). This video caught my eye today, and spurred me to finally post about this topic. Check it out:

I tend to prefer all-female, or mixed groups (great female vocals = heaven), but that all-male group video was just too good to ignore – when the rather short, and somewhat rotund fellow steps up to the microphone, you expect a certain type of voice – not the powerful bass-heavy vocals that comes out of his mouth. And it gets even better when he kicks it up to his higher range…simply awesome! If you want to check out more college A Capella, the BOCA albums are a good place to start.