HomeBlogsbspaldin's blogAn Interview With OneVoice's J.D. Frizzell

One of the best parts of the High School A Cappella Blog is that I get to talk to a lot of fantastic directors.  In April of this past year I had the pleasure of meeting J.D. Frizzell while his group, OneVoice (from Briarcrest Christian School in Eads, TN), was in New York City competing in the ICHSA Finals.  You can tell right off the bat when a group has a great director by the way their group performs and presents themselves.  And let’s be honest, they were competing as one of the top 10 high school a cappella groups in the country, so that’s a no brainer.  J.D. is a director that all of us high school a cappella directors should be taking a look at.  Enjoy an interview that I had with him about his choral program and OneVoice.

1.  How long have you been involved in contemporary a cappella?  Can you 
tell me about your background in music?

I was in a vocal jazz/a cappella group back in high school.  It was an
 extracurricular group from my school choir.  I remember singing a lot out
 of the Deke Sharon books.  I also sang in the concert choir in high 
school.  I have a bachelors of music, a masters of music composition and
 theory, and a masters in choral conducting, all from Southern Miss.
 There, I was a founding member of vocal jazz ensembles and ended up 
directing one in grad school. Mostly, we did our own arrangements and NY 
Voices charts.

2.  How long has Briarcrest been involved with contemporary a cappella?
 Am I correct that OneVoice was originally a jazz group?  If so, why the 
switch?

Briarcrest did not have any popular music before I came.  Seeing a need to engage the students with something they perceived as more relevant, I started OneVoice my first year.  We rehearsed once a week on Tuesday nights.  I think we did a couple of King Singers arrangements.  It was nothing groundbreaking, but it was a big step for our school, and the kids loved it. The next year, I talked the administration into having a curricular course for the group.  That year, we did a lot with our sister instrumental group, but dabbled in some a cappella.  The third year, we hosted New York Voices for a collaborative concert, which was an amazing event.  However, I realized that raising $20,000 to put on the level of jazz I wanted was not sustainable, so I turned to a cappella.

3.  Is OneVoice a class or extra curricular?

It is a class. We meet every day.

4. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to your new CD, “Another Level”, and I must say it’s awesome!  Easily one of the best high school CDs to date.  So if you’re reading this article go and buy it now! http://acappellarecords.com/artist/onevoice/album/another-level

What got you into recording a CD?  

Thank you so much!  We are flattered.  I can tell you one thing for sure– we have had some less successful attempts at a CD before. Dave Sperandio came last year to work with us on a couple of tracks from our school’s pop music CD, but as he will tell you, we really had no idea what we were doing when it came to recording a cappella.  The CD we put together that year was still mostly accompanied by our school’s commercial music band, now known as SoundScape.  It was a good high school CD, but we knew that it didn’t represent what we were doing.

That summer, Dave and I worked at length on a plan to make “Another Level”. It would be our first all a cappella, full-length CD, and I wanted to do it right. Being a treasure trove of a cappella wisdom, he charted out a timeline for us from conception to finish. We recorded 4 tracks in December and four tracks in March. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how above and beyond Dave went to see the project through to its fullest potential.  He is a fantastic musician and engineer, and maybe even a cooler person.

5.  Tell me a little bit about your choral program and how OneVoice 
functions as a part of the program.  Do you also have classical choirs?

We do have three ”classical” concert choirs– a 9th grade concert choir, an intermediate choir, and honors chamber choir.  All of the members of OneVoice have to be concurrently enrolled in Honors Chamber Choir and OneVoice to participate.  I can’t stress enough how important the fundamentals learned from concert choirs are to the sound of OneVoice.

6.  What have been some of your best experiences with OneVoice? Has this group helped to grow your overall program?

Performing with NY Voices was absolutely amazing.  We also enjoyed competing in the ICHSA finals this year.  However, the most influential
 experience we’ve had was going to SoJam.  The kids were never the same 
after that.  Finally, we brought in Tony Huerta to coach the group and do 
the sound design for our end of the year concert.  Tony, who is an
 absolute beast, is the founder of Urban Method and is the sound engineer 
for Take 6. OneVoice has been a driving force at our school and in our 
community.  Our choral program, which starts at the elementary level, has 
doubled in size since OneVoice’s inception four years ago.

7.  Anything else that you want to tell me about your group?  Any
 questions you wish I would have asked?

I completely forgot to mention one of the biggest influences on me 
becoming involved in a cappella.  His name is Matt Velker, and he is a
 CASA volunteer.  Matt and I have been friends since high school choir, he was
 the best man at my wedding, and has consistently encouraged me to be more 
involved in a cappella with OneVoice. He has been an integral part of
 every recording session, competition, and trip we have done.

We love being a part of the a cappella community.  Thank you to everyone for being so supportive.  We just love singing!

http://www.facebook.com/BriarcrestOneVoice

About the writer:
Ben Spalding is the head Choral Director at Centerville High School in Dayton, Ohio. At Centerville, Ben directs all of the choirs and the a cappella group Forte. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Kentucky. Ben’s a cappella roots go back to college, when he was a member of the University of Kentucky AcoUstiKats and a semi-professional group called 5 by Tuesday.  His love for music goes as far back as elementary school and music has and always will be a major driving force in his life.

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