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Artikel Tagged ‘SoJam’

SoJam 2013 Interview with MICappella

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog editor-in-chief. Recorded November 9th 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

960208_707772989247185_316119057_nYou know that moment when you come back from a trip or took a few days off from the daily grindstone? You will be punished by an even fuller desk, inbox etc. But there are moments like that when it’s easier to cope with that backlash. That’s when you can look back on something so wonderful that it lingers on for weeks and months and contributes to your general happiness with life, your friends, your community. Like for example coming back from a great event, where you met good friends, had delicious food and new inspiration in many different ways. You know what I’m talking of as a matter of fact: It’s my coming back from SoJam 2013. And immediately being drowned by all the things you left behind or didn’t manage to finish before you left as well as by the consequences from those unfinished tasks. But then you face all of this with a big smile. Because you know it was worth it.

So I’m not ashamed of posting some of the SoJam 2013 footage with quite a delay, I’m sure, you will enjoy it anyway. Like I enjoyed my first (and certainly not my last) encounter with SoJam professional showcase artists MICappella from Singapore. Have fun with that little “3 Questions, 3 Answers, 1 Song” interview I was able to do on the NC State University Campus.

Florian Städtler is an an a cappella agent, creative director, A&R director and blogger. He loves to stay in touch with great people from all over the world via his “online communication baby”, Vocal Blog via the blog (that’s where you are now!), Facebook group, Facebook fanpage, Twitter and the Acappellazone YouTube channel. Dave Sperandio (founder of SoJam) once introduced him with the phrase “He runs Europe” – and Florian took it as a compliment.

My SoJam Highlights as a First Timer

by Deborah Rosanwo, originally posted on on November 12th 2013

Deborah Rosanwo

When I said that I was going to SoJam the reactions ranged from” Nice, what is that?” to “All that way for a weekend of A cappella…On your own???”

It is actually Twitter’s fault. Whilst following Vocal Blog I got caught up in an onslaught of overwhelming enthusiastic Tweets from SoJam 2011. Those who know me know that I can also be enthusiastic about things a cappella but this was a completely new dimension and it made me curious to see what the hype was about. The seed for my trip was planted.

As fate would have it, I was in for 6 weeks of hardcore a cappella from September on filled with Choir competitions, the Bonner Jazzchor “Bottle This Moment” CD Release Tour and culminating in SoJam.

So was it worth it? Definitely! Here are my personal highlights:

1) Finally meeting dear Facebook and Twitter friends – Tone Siwela and Tara Marie Ahn - a Cyber SoJam “like”Story. I struck up a great a cappella -based friendship with both of them because of their effervescent 2011 SoJam Tweets and meeting them in person was like a reunion of dear old friends.

P12007692) The Pre- SoJam Meeting in Jimmy V’s with CAL Founder Tom Keyes, the a Cappella Recording Guru Bill Hare, Mr. Vocal Blog himself Florian Städtler, the CASA Ambassador for Ohio and Africa Tone Siwela and Myself …Aca Nerd.  Learning first hand about the history and purpose of The Contemporary A Cappella League and discussing the regional benefits as well as the international relevance.. Extremely informative…especially when interspersed with travelers anecdotes!

3) Chucks! This is THE Burger Temple of Raleigh. Try a Dirty South with Sea Island Red Pea Chili, crispy tobacco onions and Ashe County Mountain Cheddar. The owner won’t hesitate to explain where all the ingredients are bred or grown. Delicious!

4) What does an A Cappella ensemble from Singapore do when it realizes that a great fan cannot come to it’s concert because he can’t close his Chinese restaurant? A flashmob of course! MICappella sang a beautiful contemporary Chinese song after ordering their food.. Much to the joy of the restaurant owner and astonishment of the customers. Extremely cool!

5) UCD MIX. I was excited about the collegiate a cappella competition. I had heard all sorts of things varying from” if you like Beatbox CPR and Octavers ” to ” you can’t beat the enthusiasm of these youngsters”…all of which proved to be true! The ones that stood out that night were however MIX from the University of Denver. They were innovative, had strong soloists, edgy and still the perfect blend, fantastic drama in their choreography and told the story. They practically goldfished me. I could have seen them amongst the Top 3 for the Vocal Ensemble competition at the Aarhus Vocal Festival. I. Was. Impressed. Needless to say, they won! Congrats!

6) Hot on the heels of this experience comes the MIX Masterclass with The Swingle Singers…great to see how Excellent can become Superb with a few tips on stage presence  and tuning from the experts. MIX blew me away with their intensity even without stage props, costumes and microphones. We will hear a lot more from them in the future.

7) Canadian party a cappella group Eh440 kept the audience entertained between the competition sets. They gave myself and Tone asylum in their car and we all sat singing Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” in 6 improvised parts on our way to the SoJam After-Party #carjam and even took us in as VIPs! A cappella bonds…just like that!

8) A customised Vocal Jog for Dee around the Sheraton block with Florian Städtler between discussions about EVA and CASA in the quest for an elusive taxi to the North Carolina University campus for the workshops on Veterans’ Day…. an almost impossible task but we made it.

9) MICappella… Asian a cappella took the stage by storm last Saturday. Not only are these guys cool to hang out with, their mix of Pop, Rock and Ballads interspersed with the dispersion of myths about Singapore … (They are neither in China, Malaysia  nor in Japan!!) , crowd approval gestures Asian style, a bass from hell, a mad beatboxer and strong vocalists catered for a fired up audience and good vibes all around. The modern day ” hold-up-your-flashlight-on-your-smartphone” during a chinese ballad was literally a brilliant moment for all.

10) And then came the Swingles. All of a sudden there was a refined, pure, clear, beautiful sound encompassing us all like a tunnel of light shining into a clearing in the forest. The bass and the vocal percussion were defining but non intrusive, balm for my ears… Sara Brimer’s soaring soprano, Clare Wheeler’s unbelievable scats, Oliver Griffiths soul- wrenching tenor, Jo Etson’s refined mezzo… I was moved to tears by the Swingles for the first time and I have seen the Swingles at least 4 times in the last 2 years. Their performance was a display of elite a cappella, aristocracy if you wish, hand picked and handed down over 50 years of the group’s existence. Yes, the Swingles totally own their art form!

PS.  Sunday morning brunch in Jimmy V’s … scrambled eggs, sausages and bacon, scones, bagels, fresh fruit and yoghurt and coffee served in a real cup for the first time in 5 days! How I had missed that. And no, I will not diverge into a German rant about Schwarzbrot but this brunch really compensated for all the fast food and coffee to go.. I could laugh and sing again!

Mit freundlichem Gruß

Deborah Rosanwo


11 People I haven’t met but want to meet at SoJam 2013

by Florian Städtler, founder and editor-in-chief of Vocal Blog

Florian with Kaspers SoJam X passHey, I can’t believe it’s November yet and even more incredible: I’m going to be back at one of the finest events on planet a cappella: SoJam A Cappella Festival 2013 is only a few hours away! And I should rather try to get a few hours of sleep before trying to catch my bus to a train to a plane to another plane to Tom Keyes‘ car to Durham, North Carolina.

During SoJams 2011 and 2012 I was lucky to meet a lot of wonderful people from the US and elsewhere. It would be a very hot potatoe to post a select ten of the many great folks I’ve already met at SoJam or somewhere else in the world. So I’m going to tell you (and actually also the mentioned people, too), who I haven’t (really) met and talked to in person yet but would love to: For a drink and/or a little Vocal Blog video chat on the SoJam campus.

  1. Mallory Zuckerman – because she asked me to come and made all the arrangements. Thank you for addressing me so nicely with “My dear” in every single e-mail ;)
  2. Dave Longo – of course we somehow “met”, but did we ever have time for a proper chat? Hope he won’t be too busy, but it would be great to talk about US and EU a cappella worlds
  3. Jasleen Marie Sperandio – because I’ve seen more beautiful pictures of her than of any other Facebook friends. And she’s the perfect reason to invite oneself to the home of my friends Lena & Dave Sperandio
  4. A Durham hairdresser – because I want to get my first ever US haircut…do I have to be nervous? I tried to get one over here, but was too late and I don’t know if the US Airways flight attendants would do me that favor.
  5. Deborah Rosanwo – because I absolutely want her to join the European Voices Association team. And as we never managed to really talk in the country we live, we will use a trip across the pond to finally talk about the future of European a cappella
  6. Ein Ein, Calin, Juni, Peter, Eugene, YK, because I have neither met Micappella nor seen them live on a stage. As a German I particularly like the name Ein Ein. For us Germans that sounds like a double No.1 :)
  7. Eh440 - because I have to admit that I had not heard of them before seeing them on the SoJam website. Make me less ignorant, Canadians…and say hello to the Vocal Blog readers/viewers
  8. Patrick Hockberger – not only because his name sounds quite familiar for people from German-speaking countries, but I think his bio sound really interesting. So does his workshop title “Business Plan Contest”. Must have this man on the blog.
  9. Revati Murthy – her background, cross-cultural and multi-stylistic, makes me very curious. And I haven’t met anyone from India yet, who I can talk to about vocal music
  10. Dave Bernstein – because we have co-blogged, e-mailed, FB-chatted etc. etc. quite a lot, but: No face-to-face meeting yet. So this is our chance, can’t wait!
  11. YOU!! – Who I haven’t thought of. I’m looking forward to coming to know many more people that I can learn from and who are willing to share their aca-knowledge with the rest of the world. Don’t be shy, let me know you are at SoJam 2013!

Time to hit the hay now – less than five hours until my alarm will tell me: It’s REALLY that extraordinary, unique time in November now. See you in North Carolina!

Florian Städtler is founder of Vocal Blog, co-founder of Acappellazone, vocal music agent and Chairman of the Board of The European Voices Association. And he’s a BIG FAN of and wants to thank all the people who work their a…es off to make this happen. Follow Florian on his worldwide a cappella trips via Twitter, hashtag #VBontour.

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SoJam 2013 – Greetings from the ElectroVocal Dressing Room

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog

my first trip to Helsinki was a kind of SoJam deja-vu: It was in Durham in November 2012, that I really came to know the amazing people that gave themselves the mysterious name FORK. And we had such a good time, being this tiny European minority. As the no.1 US a cappella festival will go ahead in only a couple of days (in its 11th edition), we thought it would be more than appropriate to send a video greeting to all those who are going to go to SoJam. As you know, FORK won’t join the party this time, which makes them very sad, but they are so terribly busy drinking all that champagne, optimizing their make up and working out to fit into these baroque or leather & lace dresses, that can be seen in their ElectroVocal Circus show in Helsinki.

I was lucky to be able to come to Helsinki to the this spectacular theatre pop & rock show at Aleksanteri Theatre in the center of the Finnish capital. And I’m delighted to present a little hello from our four heroes, dressed up to the nines, right before entering stage for their final EVC show.

By the way, if you happen to be in Helsinki right before Christmas, there is another week of ElectroVocal Circus shows and I can tell you: It’s worth the trip.

Florian Städtler is founder and editor-in-chief of Vocal Blog, co-founder of the vocal music online shop Acappellazone and Chairman of the Board of the European Voices Association (EVA). He loves the fact, that the most talented people in vocal music contribute as writers or advisors to Vocal Blog. Are you one of them? Then drop us a line at

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My X Favourite SoJamX Moments

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog

Christopher Diaz, Florian Städtler, TeKay, Aaron Sperber

There are few places where time flies the way as at this particular kind of superjampacked festival events like CASA’s festival flagship SoJam. The tenth (or Xth if you like) edition is over, everybody hugged everybody at least 2-3 times, the last men and women standing (well, more or less) crawled to a Downtown Raleigh Whiskey Bar (Aaron Sperber/The Exchange: “I hate Whiskey – but you must join us!”) and the married ones and other “soft-cxxxs” (idiom introduced by the Australian delegation) went home or to their hotel rooms.

It’s late at night, but I had countless wonderful and/or interesting conversations, which meant there was little time to drink, which means, that my beer consumption would make every German fellow countryman feel ashamed. Well, at least I can still remember that the local dark beer (Bad Penny Jenny…? So much for my remembering details) was very tasty. And two glasses of that “liquid US bread” plus a Raleigh Times Burger is the ideal doping for a late night Vocal Blog Post. Hello vocal music world,  here are my X Favourite SoJamX Moments, hope you’ll enjoy them.

I. Angus Barn – the “SoJamX Appreciation Dinner” took place at a VERY American restaurant. Filet Mignon and a piece of cheesecake that was the equivalent of three European families’ weekly nutritional needs. Spectacular interior design. Surprise guests that made me happy: Aaron Sperber and Christopher Diaz from the up-and-coming “The Exchange“.

II. Scott Hoying – The tallest of five front(wo)men of the States’ latest a cappella wunderkind, Pentatonix. We skyped briefly short after their glorious victory at NBC’s Sing-off and it was nice to meet him in person. Do I have to mention that it was at the “SoJam VIP Luncheon” consisting of massive amount of Southern-style barbecue that made me swear to not eat again before the end of this weekend?

III. Thomas “TeKay” King – Many answers to the unavoidable but continuously asked question “How did you get into this a cappella thing” are rather banal: “Sang in a choir…started it while being in college…actually hated a cappella, but had nothing better to do…” When someone answers that his vocal music career begun in the late 80′s, i.e. the “Dark Ages before Deke Sharon invented music”, you better listen. Especially, when this person picks you up from Raleigh-Durham Airport and drives you right to the next eating event.

FORK on the SoJamX red carpet.

IV. FORK – and I mean all the seven members including their manager Linda, their sound engineer Greg and their lighting wizard Tobias. Kasper and I had a wonderfully tasteless oatmeal at the local Starbucks. And maybe the greatest moment for my self-esteem: I did not order chicken wings or Nachos at 1:30 am at the Sheraton hotel bar. A wise decision as it took the barkeeper 35 minutes to “prepare” them and – according to the Finnish gourmets – they tasted almost excactly but not quite unlike the Starbucks oatmeal.

V: Dave Sperandio – the most wonderful festival founder of all. Although he seduced me with 2.5 tons of Mr. Bojangles fried chicken and wild rice at the staff room. I forgot all dietary resolutions and did my duty in intercultural food and beverage exercises.

VI. The Sunday morning bagels – my US friends will forgive me that I believed – at least until Sunday morning at SoJamX, that American people are completely able to produce real bread. The bagels at North Carolina State University proved me wrong and I apologise for my obvious bias and ignorance. The walnut and honey cream cheese was another calorial detail I don’t want to miss here.

VII. Pentatonix – as one of the three groups of the “SoJamX professional showcase”, Pentatonix exceeded the hyped-up expectations. It is one of those incomprehensible wonders of the media and music industry, that one of the freshest and most innovative vocal groups that America has ever produced is the result of  mainstream reality TV show by NBC. From the a cappella gourmet’s standpoint, Pentatonix is kind of a Rotary Sushi Bar 2.0 of A Cappella.

VIII. Benjamin “Professor” Stevens – the CASA’s educational mastermind’s lecture on “Essential Listening” is cult. And according to US guitarist Mick Goodrick’s bon mot  that “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture”, this treat of a speech is a lecture through music and a masterpiece of subtle rhetoric. We have to bring the “Professor” to Europe somehow. Delicious, better than any 5.000 USD bottle of wine in the Angus Barn’s wine cellar.

IX. My SoJamX Souvenir Shirt – one reason to come to SoJam for the second time is that nowhere would one find a higher percentage of all US a cappella activists and professionals than at in North Carolina’s capital. And also I had to stop people from hugging and harmony by my ridiculous fan behavior, I’m now a proud owner of a unique piece of SoJamX merch, a festival t-shirt covered with the signatures of all those who have gained a total of 1.57 tons of additional weight due to the Southern festival diet, lack of exercise and hectoliters, sorry, gallons of beer, wine, champagne and (OMG – the day after…) gin & tonics.

X. The Monday After  (yet to come) – tomorrow, I will eat healthy, work hard in my mobile office, do a proper Raleigh Vocal Jog and….will forget about all these stupid self-imposed rules as soon as someone offers me a “proper” steak, a “Tower Burger” or some other Southern delicacy. Thank you SoJamX, for giving me four wonderful days and taking care of an a cappella tourist (Yes, I had no actual job this time, only felt strange very briefly). And for a good reason for a proper workout when I’m back in good old Freiburg.

Florian Städtler is founder and editior-in-chief of Vocal Blog, co-founder of Acappellazone and Chairman of the European Voices Association. He rarely drinks gin tonics, but makes exceptions for special occasions like late night business meetings with Scandinavian business partners.