"A Cappella – As if by Magic" by Emily Dankworth

Emily Dankworth
Photo Credit: Joanna Wallfisch

Emily Dankworth writes about A Cappella, and joining the group ‘Vive’…

Throughout my childhood, I grew up being part of a choir and, whether I loved it or loathed it, I was always within it. It was a part of me. Over a long period of time, I was lucky enough to have the privilege of singing as a chorister in some of the world’s most prestigious spaces – Canterbury Cathedral and The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC. I even wore a cassock! 

There was always something extremely satisfying about belonging to a group which, through blending notes produced solely by the voice, such an alluring sound was created. As I grew up, however, there was a feeling lurking that I needed to go solo, in order to feel like my role as a singer was more established and respected.

As if by magic, I then met James Rose and was introduced into the world of A Cappella Music; singing without instrumental sound. I was invited to dep in the six-part A Cappella group Vive. Vive’s aim is “to re-imagine the close-harmony jazz/spiritual/A Cappella sound”. The day that I went to my first rehearsal was the day that my life changed. I’m not exaggerating. I discovered that every single note you sing is not only the foundation of the song, but also crucial towards the success of its sound. An A Cappella group is completely reliant on you, and you on it. Tonality-wise and emotionally, if one person falls down, everyone is going to fall down. You simply have to be strong enough – and in both respects – to pull yourselves back up.

I am now a permanent member of the group. With the amount of time we spend together. it has grown to become my extended family. Even though it has only been a year, we have spent hours slaving away over the mind-boggling, yet audibly pleasing chords that have been written for us to sing by James and the other writer in the group, Sam Robson. The rest of the talent comes in the form of Ben Cox, Martynas Vilpisauskas and Lewis Daniel, all Guildhall School of Music Jazz students.

The experience recently of performing in The London A Cappella Festival (hosted by The Swingle Singers) has inspired me more than ever to live my life in this community of voices only. The audience seem to be getting it too. I heard lots of comments about the vibe and the buzz of the whole festival and one audience member even tweeted: “Got blown away. Excuse me while I die happy. #LACF.”

So what can you do to get a taste of what I am attempting to portray? I would absolutely advise anyone who has a love of music and the voice to try forming an A Cappella group and reap in the rewards. Find an arranger, ask them to write you something, just see what happens. The sound of six voices (in Vive’s case) that blend together to reach a place that is only attainable if you are all completely in the zone is unlike any other. It gives me a high, an adrenaline rush, an extreme sensation of pleasure which no other form of music has managed to deliver.

A Cappella is on its way up and into the public eye (through the help of Glee, I must admit, and more so in America and other countries than the UK so far) but check out our new album and you will see we aren’t all the same. Pentatonix and The Exchange are other groups which, once you hear them, will help you to see how appealing A Cappella can be, and how it could attract the younger generation. If you’ve never heard it, give it a try.

I have faith and I know VIVE are going to do everything we can to help inspire a new generation and bring something fresh into this industry. Long live the power of voice!

www.emilydankworth.com  /   Vive website

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