For anyone who is new to the genre, a capella is singing without instrumental backup. It started out as religious music. The phrase a capella means “in the manner of the church.”
Later, a capella became the realm of barbershop quartets and college glee clubs. Rumor has it, the first college a capella group began at Rensselaer Polytechnic (outside of Albany, NY) in 1873. That original group was very different from the Harvard Callbacks and Tufts University Beelzebubs everyone knows today.
Today’s a capella groups are showing a new generation that a capella can be cool singing unaccompanied versions of rap, hip-hop, pop, country and rock hits. Shows like Pitch Perfect and The Sing Off have made the genre mainstream. A capella became cool enough for VH1 to take notice and post this article featuring Straight No Chaser.
Straight No Chaser’s new PBS special Songs of the Decades is airing in many markets right now. If you missed it, check out their videos. Our favorites are Madonna’s “Like a Prayer and Weezer’s “Buddy Holly.”