Home"Shut Up and Sing" to Premiere at Aspen

Amy Malkoff's picture

“The whole a cappella community really pitched in on this film,” said Leddy, who was inspired to write the script by his experiences singing with The Willams (College) Octet and an alumni group in NYC called The Lemmings. “There was so much to do and so little time or money to do it with that it really took a huge effort by people affiliated with a cappella all over the country to pull off successfully.” Everyone from vocal producer Deke Sharon, to Hyannis Sound founder Townsend Belisle, to BOCA producer/distributor Don Gooding, and vocal percussionist/producer Jeff Thatcher gave their advice, contacts, and expertise. “I was really flattered how everyone rallied to the cause so willingly,” said Leddy.

The bulk of the music burden fell to Rockapella founder Sean Altman who was hired as the primary music consultant on the film, as well as his Groovebarbers partner (and Leddy’s fellow Williams College alum) Kevin Weist. Together they helped bring the arrangements together, rehearsed a "supergroup" of singers for pre-records, and ran the actors through their paces to get them camera-ready. “The guys that did the pre-records were phenomenal. Some of them flew in for the gig or drove from out of state. They only had one day of rehearsing and one day of recording, yet the tracks sound amazing,” Leddy said. The pre-record supergroup included Weist and Altman along with Charlie Evett (bass), Wayne Wilkins (baritone), Elliott Kerman (bari/tenor), and Michael Winther (tenor).

“Once we recorded the parts with the supergroup,” explains Leddy, “we brought in the actors from the film and taught them their parts. “ While the majority of the backing parts in the finished film were from the original supergroup singers, the actors recorded their own lead solos. “I think we were all surprised at how great Reg Rogers was at the solo for 'The More I See You.' He really made it his own. And Sandy Chaplin takes Sting’s 'Consider Me Gone' and rocks it.” Three songs are sung live in the film by the cast: Denis Leary’s comedy song “Life’s Gonna Suck When You Grow Up,” a quick homage to Mister Mr.’s “Kyrie” (dubbed “the worst song of all time” by the characters in the film), and a rendition of “Workin’ In a Coalmine”, in which the cast encounters none other than uber-bass Barry Carl in a local prison where the acoustics are ideal for a sing-along.

The soundtrack is a combination of the pre-recorded tracks and several stand-out songs from actual college groups. They include: the UVA Academical Village People’s version of Ben Folds Five’s “Kate;” MIT Logarhythm’s cover of the John Mayer song “No Such Thing; Oxford (UK)’s Out of the Blue doing Coldplay’s “Trouble; and the Tufts Beelzebubs version of Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home,” which opens the film. “In all of these cases, we could have done our own arrangements and pre-records of the songs but I honestly think you could not do any better than what the college groups had done. The level of arranging and singing talent on these tracks is just phenomenal and I really wanted to include in the movie some of the work of the real a cappella groups out there.”

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