Six Top Vocal Group Acapella

Six Top Vocal Groups Perform Acapella at MU

The Center for the Arts at Monmouth University has announced that tickets are on sale for “Doo Wop Explosion II,” a March 4 concert event that showcases several generations of top vocal talent from Philadelphia, New Jersey, and NYC’s boroughs inside our flagship performance space, the Pollak Theatre.

A sequel to the first successful Doo Wop Explosion event in 2016, the Saturday evening serenade transforms the enhanced Pollak Theatre — a room that boasts nearly 700 new seats, improved sight lines, and a newly enlarged stage area — into a street corner from the old neighborhood. It’s that magical musical laboratory where the harmony-based vocal traditions of the urban African American communities coalesced into an exciting new sound in the postwar era; one that would soon come to be embraced by young audiences and performers of many different ethnic backgrounds.

More than anything else, the music known as “Doo Wop” draws its passionate power from the awesome glory of human voices working in perfect harmony. It is delivered acapella-style without benefit of instrumental accompaniment, and graces everything from the most heartbreaking love ballads and soaring songs of devotion, to the crazy rhythms of the wildest early rock and roll. More than mere artifacts from an oldies jukebox, the sounds of the great vocal soul groups continue to inform and inspire many of today’s top pop acts.

Headlining the powerhouse program of six premier groups will be Pookie Hudson’s Spaniels, inheritors of a legacy that began with their late colleague, Spaniels lead singer Pookie Hudson, and the signature swooner that defined the entire doo wop era, the 1956 million-seller “Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight.” Originating on the streets of Brooklyn, Vito & the Salutations scored regional hits in the early 1960’s with their recordings of “Gloria,” “Unchained Melody” and “Your Way.” Rick Anthony has been handling most of the group’s leads for the past 15 years, as the original Vito is no longer with them. The group also contains long time member, Shelly Buchansky, who sang on “Unchained Melody” and many of their other hits.

While musical memories will fill the air, the evening is hardly all about nostalgia, as several next-generation acts aim to prove that the Doo Wop tradition remains in good hands. Returning for an encore appearance at the Pollak is Philly’s Quiet Storm, a group that’s attracted a coterie of fervent fans (known as “Storm Chasers”) who follow them from gig to gig — and another group from Philadpeia, A Perfect Blend who have been singing since 1990, and had previously won the talent contest on the nationally syndicated “Showtime At The Apollo” TV show.  Piscataway’s own Re-Member Then, who memorably backed the legendary Larry Chance at the 2016 show, will demonstrate the stuff that’s made them two-time winners of the Acappella Showdown competitions at the Meadowlands. They’re joined for the first time by The Copians, an all-star outfit drawn from former members of several standout Philly vocal organizations.

The follow-up explosion continues a partnership between Monmouth’s Center for the Arts and our friends Charles and Pam Horner of Classic Urban Harmony LLC, the musicologists and collectors who curated an acclaimed 2015 salute to the sounds of Asbury Park’s West Side, inside the Pollak Gallery. This is music that’s too vital to keep confined to a museum, however, as the Horners return to campus with a celebration of people-powered soul in all its living, breathing, versatile glory; one that carries the “remember when” into the here and now.

Tickets for Doo Wop Explosion II are priced at $25 and $45 (with a Gold Circle seating option of $55), and can be reserved through the Monmouth University Performing Arts Box Office at 732-263-6889, or online at Gold Circle tickets also allow access to a meet and greet reception with the artists, to be held prior to the 7 p.m. concert (please note that the scheduled lineup for the March 4 event is subject to change).

Tickets for other upcoming Performing Arts events — including another acapella group Sweet Honey in The Rock (February 24), and the return of the vocal ensemble Bravo Amici (April 2) — are also on sale now. To schedule interviews, please contact Kelly Barratt at 732-263-5114.

IMAGE COURTESY of The Center for the Arts at Monmouth University