HomeAn Interview With Cape Harmony

Amy Malkoff's picture

MP: I came up with the idea after being introduced to Hyannis Sound and their music.  Many of my male friends were excited to audition for Hyannis Sound and I found myself a bit jealous of their opportunity.  I wished that there could be a way that I could participate in such an awesome experience.  Since there was nothing out there, I took the initiative to start something myself and see if others would be interested.  Alyssa’s response takes it from there.

CASA: Are you associated with Hyannis Sound, or just inspired by them, and have you had any contact with them during this process?

AN: I first saw the Hyannis Sound after my freshman year of high school, almost five years ago. I was immediately impressed, because I was already involved in many singing activities at school and in my town, but I had never seen a cappella before. When I transferred to BU last fall, I immediately began to look for a cappella groups I could join. I joined an all-female group called Aural Fixation, and I fell in love with a cappella all over again, because this time, I was actually doing it. I thought about how cool it would be to do this as a summer job. There are no all-female a cappella groups on the Cape, with the exception of groups based at some of the Cape high schools, and Melissa and I thought that should change. There are currently 2 all-male groups, the Vineyard Sound and the Hyannis Sound, and Cape Harmony will be the first all-female group. No, we are not affiliated with either group at this time, but we do hope to be friends with both of them. We admire their work, and we hope to be making some great music of our own and establishing our own unique sound. We have been in contact with some Hyannis Sound friends who were very helpful in offering us suggestions on getting started. We feel great knowing that these groups have already established an a cappella scene on the Cape, and we are glad to be able to join that and add to the fun!

MP: I first heard of Hyannis Sound this past December 2005.  I listened to their CD and was very impressed.  I then went to a show in February and was even more impressed. Their connection to their audience and their passion for performing and creating great music is very inspiring and something that I hope we can accomplish with this group.

CASA: How did you search for your members, how many auditions did you hold, tell me about the audition process?

AN: We publicized to every college and high school a cappella group that we could find by sending emails, putting up flyers, and meeting with some of the groups at our respective schools. We held one audition, and we had 12 very talented girls audition for us. Melissa and I were the judges, along with two of our male friends, John and Andre. John is a member of In Achord at BU, and Andre was a founder of the UConn group Extreme Measures. We saw each of the girls individually, and took them through a series of individual tests: 2 solos, a range test, pitch matching, sight and rhythm reading, vocal percussion, and an interview. We also learned a few songs as a group and sang together and in quartets, to see how quickly everyone learned music. All of the girls did extremely well with this, and we were very happy with the turnout. After the girls had left, the judges deliberated and weighed each girl’s strengths and weaknesses, and we went back and forth until we found the combination of people that we were looking for. Unfortunately, one girl will be unable to join us this summer, so we will probably hold another small audition for her spot right before we get started. This one won’t be as publicized and will probably just include people who wanted to audition originally but were unable to do so.

CASA: Are you planning to house the group for the summer, and if so, how will that work? Do you have gigs set up already, and who is doing that for you? Where will you perform?

AN: Yes, many of the girls are from out of state, so we are definitely going to be living together on the Cape, and we are renting a house where most of the group will live. We have a few gigs set up already, and we are doing all of that work ourselves. We have been invited to sing with the Vineyard Sound, we will be performing the National Anthem at Cape League baseball games, we are hoping to sing at restaurants and other public places, and we are also planning a weekly Saturday night show (locations TBA). We are basically looking to sing anywhere that we can, and we will do both private and public performances for anyone who wants to listen!

CASA: What were the criteria for members? What was the group size you were looking for?

AN: In our members, we looked for a variety of positive qualities. Obviously, a great voice is necessary, but we were looking for well-rounded singers with a great attitude. The girls that we took are talented, energetic and fun, determined, and they love to sing! We are confident that this combination of people will make Cape Harmony’s first season absolutely fantastic!

MP: We looked for enthusiasm, performance, charisma and all around like-ability. We needed girls that are easy going and fun to be around because we will be living in a house together for 3 months! And we also needed people that we felt our audiences could connect with and would be fun to watch on stage.

CASA: What kind of music will you be focusing on?

AN: We will be doing many different types of music. Most of our songs are popular songs, but we also have some rock, jazz, country, and oldies in our set. We will performing songs by various artists such as Billy Joel, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Natasha Bedingfield, Stevie Wonder, Dell Vikings, The Spice Girls, Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Imbruglia, Ray Charles, The Jackson 5, Guster, The Beatles, and many others! Depending on how quickly we learn songs, we may be adding more to our set as the summer goes on.

CASA: What do you think sets you apart from other girl groups?

AN: For one, we are different from most other a cappella groups because we perform in the summer and not just as an extra-curricular activity. An overwhelming majority of a cappella groups come from universities and colleges, and although we are all college students, we are not representing a particular school. We are entirely self-run, and once the group gets together to start the summer, everyone will have some kind of a job or responsibility to make sure that the group runs smoothly. We are unique for so many reasons: we are the first all-female summer group on the Cape and we are full of girls who are willing to take the risk of being the first members of a group that is brand new. When we were putting all of this together, we would experience periods of doubt and worry about not getting enough girls, not finding a place to live, not drawing a crowd to our shows, etc. But we kept planning, and now that we have a group, we are very confident that we are going to be a force to be reckoned with this summer! Plus we are going to have lots of fun!

CASA: Tell me about the two founders?

AN: My name is Alyssa Norton, and I’m a sophomore with a music major/theater arts minor at Boston University. I am originally from Bourne, MA, a town on Cape Cod. I began singing at a very young age, and it’s been such a rewarding experience. My background is mostly in musical theater, but I also have experience in choral singing and a cappella. I am a member and the producer of an all-female group at BU, Aural Fixation. In addition to singing, I am also involved in the figure skating scene at BU, and I am a member of BU’s Symphonic Chorus, which recently sang at Carnegie Hall.I am very excited for the first season of Cape Harmony!

MP: My name is Melissa Paul and I am from Manchester, CT.  I am a graduate of the University of Connecticut, Class of 2006, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts.  My concentration is music and my instrument is voice. I have had experience singing many different types of music.  I’ve sung pop, R&B, jazz, classical, gospel AND even a little country, haha. I was the first ever Uconn Idol and I’ve sung the National Anthem at Uconn basketball games for many years now. I play the guitar and I write my own songs.  I hope to release a CD of original material later this year. At Uconn I was part of The Chordials, all-female a cappella, for four year years and they have been a huge inspiration in my decision to start Cape Harmony.

CASA: Have you had mentors and/or advisors in this process?

AN: We did get some very valuable advice about getting started from some very special a cappella friends. They would prefer to remain anonymous, but we know who they are, and we are very appreciative of their advice. And of course, we have had a lot of support from friends and family. So many people contacted me after auditions to see how they went, and all of my friends and family members are excited that this is really happening. Several of our a cappella friends from school who are not affiliated with Cape Harmony are arranging music for us to sing or have agreed to let us use their arrangements this summer. They are all doing a super job with that, and we are very grateful to them. We are also thankful for the help we received at auditions from John and Andre. The were fantastic, and if they weren’t male, they could totally be in the group.

CASA: Tell me about the chosen members -- what made you choose them? How many people did you audition?

AN: We auditioned 12 girls, and they were all very talented. We really could have taken all of them because they were all very qualified, but we felt that a group of 14 was too big, and we wanted to make some cuts to form just the right combination of people. The girls we chose are just phenomenal; not only can they sing well, but we also considered personality and ability to learn music, and they’ve got it all.

CASA: What are the plans for the future -- do you keep this group going once you graduate?

AN: Our hope is that this group will continue for many, many years to come. We plan to involve all of the girls in the group in some sort of leadership position, so that whoever stays from year to year will be able to teach the new members how to run the group. I won’t be graduating just yet, so I still have 2 more summers after this one to sing with Cape Harmony. Hopefully this summer will set the tone for a lasting tradition of all-female a cappella on the Cape.

MP: Our goal for starting this group is to make it a staple of Cape Cod entertainment for the future. We want this group to grow over the years and we hope to become something like the Vineyard and Hyannis Sounds are today. My intentions in forming a group like this are to give young female singers the opportunity to experience the incredible rush that comes from singing a cappella.  One of the most beautiful sounds in the world is the sound of human voices in perfect harmony. It truly brings tears to my eyes and being a part of that experience and a part of that sound is like no other feeling in the world. It’s why I sing. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I will be able to continue with Cape Harmony after this summer as the real world after college beckons, but I will definitely be in touch and help in whatever ways I can.