Naturally 7 delivers a cappella vocal art in Cape Town
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
When New York a cappella group Naturally 7 started out, its band members used to diligently observe musicians in their quest to mimic instruments with just their voices.
The singing ensemble has since gone on to record six albums and have written songs that include sounds of guitars, trumpets and drums produced with just their vocal chords.
Naturally 7 was in Cape Town yesterday as the support act for the Michael Buble concert at Cape Town Stadium.
Founder members and brothers Roger and Warren Thomas said their roots trace back to Gospel music but they have incorporated “hip hop, jazz and even rock ‘n roll” into their songs.
The other members are Rod Eldridge on ‘trumpet’, Napoleon Cummings ‘guitar’, Dwight Stewart on ‘trumpet’, Garfield Buckley on ‘harmonica’, and Kelvin Mitchell on ‘bass guitars’.
Roger, who also raps in the group, said their “vocal play” is always in an experimental state.
“For our next album we are taking a baroque chant and putting a solid hip hop beat on it. It’s something we’ve never heard somebody do,” said Roger.
“In this album we have intros and outros and bridges where we mix these things together. We are keeping the songs cool, inspirational and spiritual.”
He said they aimed to show audiences what the human voice is capable of.
“This is an art form that has been around for a while. On Youtube (website), you find individuals that are very talented doing all sorts of sounds. If you can make someone believe they are hearing a trumpet or guitar, it’s a serious art form,” he said.
He said they wrote songs like any other music band would.
“We’re just like a normal band jamming together. It’s very organic. We remember all the notes and how it has to be,” said Roger.
His brother Warren said they would spend hours watching musicians play their instruments.
“I’ll watch a drummer tune his drums. I record it all in my mind and duplicate it. When I’m making those sounds, I’m sitting behind the drum set,” said Warren.
Kelvin Mitchell added: “We study what the instrument sounds like. We watch individuals who play those instruments.
“When I’m playing the bass I am looking at the guitar. I see it all. Yet the interesting thing is that none of us play those instruments in real life.”
Mitchell said they wanted to make music that would offer a “message of hope and love”.
“We want to understand love. Our music is about showing love to each person. Nobody cares about how much you know unless they know how much you care,” said Mitchell.
Naturally 7 continues their South African tour alongside Buble this weekend.