Entertainment Hive 2020

Vocal blueprint for success

By Honey B

Lisa Young has been devoted to singing a cappella long before the hit TV series Glee and movie Pitch Perfect. The dedicated performer is one of five female singers in renowned a cappella group Coco’s Lunch and she loves being part of such an “exciting’’ genre. “I think that being in a small ensemble is an incredible forum for performance, composition and improvisation,’’ she enthuses. “It is really an exciting genre to work in with the voice being the focus. The voice takes the bass line and the percussion element and the leading part or the harmonising part and the responding part. “A cappella has been in the spotlight with Glee and now Pitch Perfect. Maybe we could be in Pitch Perfect 3 – that would be great!’’ While the Pitch Perfect movie juggernauts may be blazing a new a cappella trail, Young and her fellow songbirds have been performing the art form for more than 15 years. “We all sing, play percussion and compose our own music. Our music has a strong world music theme and has African and Indian influences.  “I think our music is very earthy and quite sophisticated. It’s also very rhythmically complex and harmonically stunning.’’ All five vocalists, Young, Gabrielle MacGregor, Sue Johnson, Nicola Eveleigh and Jacqueline Gawler, share the composing duties, which is another strength of the quintet. “When you draw on a pool of composers, rather than just one composer, you end up with an incredibly vast and diverse repertoire. “So we all compose and some compose more than others but the compositions all come through the group.’’ Young is an award-winning composer and her love is South Indian konnakkol music – it is a feature of their Adelaide Cabaret Festival show, Other Plans. “Konnakkol is the stunning vocal percussion art form of the rhythmic vocal language from the South Indian classical music and dance. “In that tradition all of the percussionists can sing what they play. I have been studying this style of music for more than 20 years now and over time I have brought pieces to the group and they have been introduced to the style of music. “We mix the music, so in its original form konnakkol is an entoned artform – it is not pitched. But in my composition I have taken it to a place where I use it like a bass line and then there will be a western harmonic piece written on top of that which the group will break into.’’ Young says the other singers are getting very good at this musical art form as they have been performing it for 10 years together. “We have several pieces that feature konnakkol including one called Thanga and the other is Pha Thin Tha and we are launching our new single, Other Plans, at the Cabaret Festival. “There will also be some other songs influenced by India that are more melodic and more contemporary world music songs that are influenced by travelling in India. We will be doing a lot of songs from our latest album Blueprint. “Then there will be some of our hit songs as well as a strong African influence in some of the music – it really is unique music.’’ While Coco’s Lunch features some intricate and very powerful world music people in its Other Plans show, the group also has a very playful young at heart side with its Coco’s Lunch children’s show, I Wanna Be A Mermaid. “It has really been an exciting career with some good friends, we met at the Victorian College of the Arts, and we have done a lot of kid’s shows for many years. “It’s really fantastic that we could bring both shows to Adelaide because it is really important for children to see live musical shows and hear the acoustic form of music and the voice naturally and the instruments naturally. “And also for children to know that music is not something that just comes out of a CD player and that it is something that is real and live. “Anyone of any age will enjoy the children’s show – the harmonies are still sophisticated and it’s beautifully themed and directed. “Children can come along and dress up as whatever they want to, mermaids, pirates, fairies or whatever.’’ Coco’s Lunch in Other Plans, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Space Theatre, June 10-11, and I Wanna Be a Mermaid, Banquet Room, June 13. Bookings: BASS 131 246
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