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Once upon a time, a cappella was all about dapper men in bow ties and waistcoats singing sappy songs about love, cooing to ‘Sweet Adeline’ and reminiscing about being ‘Down by the Old Mill Stream.’

But the days of barbershop are done, and while we may mourn their passing with a twinge of nostalgia, they’ve been replaced with something much more malleable and exciting. Today’s a cappella groups don’t rely solely on oohing and ahhing for their sound; they can uncannily imitate the instruments needed to effectively recreate pop and rock tunes.

“People are using their voices like beatboxing to create a strong rhythmic underpinning,” explains Deke Sharon, founder of the House Jacks band and the father of contemporary a cappella.

As a child of 7, the San Francisco native shared the stage with opera great Pavarotti. Back in his salad days, he was part of the Tufts University Beezlebubs, which has become known in recent years for providing backing vocals for the Warblers in Glee’s second season.

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