“A Cappella Live!,” the touring production featuring singing acts Committed, The Filharmonic, Blake Lewis and Women of the World, has some big connections to Baton Rouge.
Deke Sharon, the show’s creative director, spent months in Baton Rouge as on-site music director, arranger and vocal producer for the hit movie musicals “Pitch Perfect” 1 and 2.
Sharon’s “A Cappella Live!” takes the Manship Theatre stage on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. Love songs, no doubt, will be sung.
“There’s something very personal and warm about the sound of the human voice,” Sharon said. “Of course, and the great thing about 'A Cappella' is that it’s fun and modern, but it’s still safe for all ages. Young lovers and people celebrating their golden anniversary are all welcomed. And there will be a lot of moments when people can sing along and participate on stage.”
A cappella means music performed with voices only, no instruments.
“The human voice is the most dynamic and varied instrument that exists,” Sharon said. “We can sound like so many instruments.”
While working in Baton Rouge during the production of the first two “Pitch Perfect” movies (“Pitch Perfect 3” was shot in Atlanta), Sharon developed a taste for local fried chicken.
“It ruined me,” he said from his home in San Francisco. “I thought I knew fried chicken. But then I tried desperately in San Francisco to find any kind of acceptable fried chicken. It just doesn’t exist here.”
Sharon couldn’t visit local restaurants as often as he’d like, but Frank’s Restaurant, the third-generation family establishment known for its biscuits, and The Chimes, just off LSU's campus, where the “Pitch Perfect” movies were filmed, were favorites.
“When you’re so busy making a movie, you just don’t have those two-hour windows to go and have a nice sit-down meal,” he said. “We found ourselves much more often grabbing something quick or going to ma and pop diners.”
“A Cappella Live!” continues the prolific a cappella career and advocacy that Sharon has devoted himself to since high school. In addition to “Pitch Perfect,” he produced five seasons of NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” wrote more than 2,000 a cappella arrangements and founded the touring and recording House Jacks, billed as a rock band without instruments. His latest projects include DCappella, the Disney a cappella group he co-created.
Sharon learned about the impact voices singing together can make while he was a member of the San Francisco Boys Choir.
“Singing in the churches, I realized the power human voices have when they rise together in song,” he said. “There’s a reason that religious ceremonies around the world are so often vocal and often a cappella. An incredible spiritual connection happens with voices, one you just can’t get any other way. I loved that. I thought that if other people knew about it, they would love it. It took some time to make a cappella the media darling it became, but we got there.”
The “A Cappella Live!” lineup promises a lively, diverse slate of music. Committed, a five-man gospel and pop group based in Nashville, won Season 2 of “The Sing-Off.” The group’s been nominated for Grammy, Dove, Stellar and NAACP Image awards.
The Los Angeles-based Filharmonic, a quintet of young Filipino-Americans, appeared in “Pitch Perfect 2” and on the “The Sing-Off” and “The Late Show with James Corden.”
Singer-beatboxer Blake Lewis, who’ll be performing solo with vocal loops, placed second to Jordin Sparks during Season 6 of “American Idol.” His pop and dance hits include “Break Anotha” and “Heartbreak on Vinyl.”
Women of the World brings singers from Japan, Italy, Haiti and India together in a quartet that performs in 34 languages.
Sharon modeled “A Cappella Live!” on the traveling pop and soul revues of the 1960s.
“It’s been a labor of love,” he said of his a cappella life. “ ‘A Cappella Live!’ is great because, as wonderful as it is to see a cappella in movies, on television or YouTube, it’s tenfold better when you see it live. The power and energy in the room is impossible to replicate on a screen.”
'A CAPPELLA LIVE!'
7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14
Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.