The Western Brown a cappella group pauses for a photo with Deke Sharon (back row, center) during their singing and performing workshop.
The Western Brown High School a cappella group has been making music with just voices since 2012. The group recently got to work with one of the most famous of modern voices, singer and composer Deke Sharon.
The group traveled to Macedonia, Ohio on March 18 as part of 15 schools attending the Nordonia High School Acafest. The group got to spend time working one on one with Sharon, who is noted for the singing in the “Pitch Perfect” movies and for composing the first a cappella Broadway musical called “In Transit”.
Sara Jordan is the Western Brown Choir teacher. She said she and her group considered the trip a once in a lifetime experience. “We were really excited and we were only one of five schools that got to work with Deke Sharon. He kind of critiqued us and gave us feedback. He was an awesome guy and really fun to work with. We also got to go to some master classes, some recording classes and got to work with other high school a capella groups and hear what they sound like.”
The group was also able to take master classes with “The Exchange”, a nationally known a cappella group that appeared on the NBC show “The Sing Off” in 2010.
Jordan said that the learning experience didn’t stop there. “We also attended a class on video production in case we want to make a video about our group and we ended the night with a concert by all of the high schools and then “The Exchange” did an hour and a half concert which was the most amazing concert I have ever been to.”
Senior Tia Newberry said that she enjoyed the experience very much.
“We had a lot of fun. We learned a lot of how to connect with an audience rather than just standing there and singing. Deke Sharon surprised me because I was expecting him to be more uptight, but he was very free and fun. It was a very different experience, but I loved it.”
She said that Sharon showed the group the difference between singing and performing.
“Deke Sharon said ‘You guys sound amazing but you are all looking at the floor or not looking at your audience. He helped us break down the performing and be a better a capella group. We learned a lot about performing, not only with an audience, but with each other.”
Senior Jackson Erhardt also came away from the experience with some valuable insights.
“We learned more about reaching a new level of professionalism when it comes to performing and singing. We’ve always been a pretty good group, but there is always another step you can take to be better performers and singers,” he said. “I think it made the whole group more confident. Just him giving us that credit, it made us a lot more confident when we performed later on.”
Western Brown’s a cappella group has recently performed at the Mt. Orab Christmas Parade, the Grand Opening of Mt. Orab Ford, home football games and concerts, and at the Mt. Orab Gardening Club 50th Anniversary celebration.