"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I can't wait to see them," one of the little girls in front of me wailed. She was hopping up and down with a digital camera in hand, trying to see over the SRO crowd. Based on her excitement I would've thought I was at a sold out One Direction concert featuring special guest Justin Bieber -- a girl can only hope. Alas, I found myself in the middle of L.A.'s Universal Studios CityWalk, waiting to see a free show by an a cappella group called Pentatonix.
I remember my brother Nick's reaction when I first told him I made Miami University's all-female a cappella group. "Yo," he started, eyes narrowed condescendingly. "Why would anyone want to sing a cappella? That's, like, the lowest form of music you can partake in."
Well. Agree to disagree.
Nick's judgment of a cappella music stemmed from hard-won musical prejudices: he plays three different instruments in three separate bands, all of which write their own music. To him, a cappella was an imposter genre. Music but not, if you will. "A cappella singers cover music made popular by other artists," he said. "Voices can't do what full bands do." For a long time, he was right.