HomeQ&A with Rockapella songwriter Scott Leonard

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From famous Almond Joy and Foldger’s House jingles to appearing on “The Tonight Show,” pop vocalist group Rockapella has more than 17 albums and one on the way. 

Scott Leonard, chief songwriter, revealed what it’s like performing for a college audience, the challenges of working without instruments and some of the group’s most memorable gigs. Rockapella will perform at Wilson Hall on Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. 

How does the group engage with the audience during a show? Our shows are very loose and interactive. When there’s no instruments, getting together is very immediate and spontaneous. And Rockapella has always had a sense of humor. Every show is different, and the audience is encouraged to participate.  

How has Rockapella changed from when you first started the group? There’s much more dancing. We’ve also gravitated toward more R&B-pop music, as opposed to rock. That’s the thing about Rockapella — it should really be called “Groove-apella” or “Pop-apella.” 

What’s the best thing about performing without instruments? It’s very immediate. There’s no electronics between you and the listener — it’s like a conversation. When we’re up on stage, it’s like hyper-listening. We’re really in tune with each other. There’s no other noise going on, so it’s really pure. 

What’s challenging about performing without instruments? Staying in tune. When you play with instruments, you have built-in tuning — you’re in key together and you all know what you’re in. But when you’re singing, there’s no part of your throat you can just pluck like you do on a string of a guitar or a key on a keyboard. We have to lock together, listen and stay in tune.

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