Deke Sharon has nothing against instrumentalists.
He'd rather just hear the human voice, unadorned.
The San Francisco-born singer and educator is the creative director for the NBC a cappella competition "The Sing-Off" -- whose new national tour plays Wednesday, March 18, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre -- and for the popular film series "Pitch Perfect." His own group, the House Jacks, has won several awards from the Contemporary A Cappella Society, and he's helped out Straight No Chaser, among others.
He loves a cappella, in other words, and with the recent success of "The Sing-Off" champions Pentatonix, Sharon feels like others are starting to share his passion.
"It's exciting because a cappella was the first music, and it's always been with us," says Sharon (real name Kurk Toohey, Jr.), 47. "You go back to Gregorian chant, you go back to Madrigal, even barbershop and doo-wop, and in their day it was people singing current popular music with just their voices.
"So what's happening now is not new; it's as old as time itself. But now the media is maying attention and ('The Sing-Off') has found it's audience, which is really great. I've always felt that if you get a cappella out there, people will love it right way."
The goal now, Sharon says, is to hold onto the moment. He feels that The Sing-Off Live Tour can help, as its three groups -- past season winners VoicePlay and Street Corner Symphony and runners-up The Exchange -- display a variety that will help introduce both larger and broader audiences to a cappella.
"The Exchange comes out with tons of energy, like a high-level boy band with all these current pop songs," Sharon explains. "VoicePlay use a lot of theater and comedy and gets a lot of laughs. And Street Corner Symphony are the coolest, laid-back country-rock guys in the entire world.
"So between the three you get to hear three different sides of the a cappella sound. The songs the groups are singing span 50 years, and each takes a different approach. The human voice is the most versatile instrument in the world. There are no boundaries; that's why we like to sing so much."
Sharon is waiting to hear news about a sixth season for "The Sing-Off," but the tour has been keeping him busy, as has "Pitch Perfect 2," which opens May 15 -- again starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin and others -- and will further thump the non-existent drum for vocal music.
"It's going to be huge," says Sharon, who's also developing a new reality show for Lifetime about high school a capella groups. "The first movie slowly built and grew and grew and grew and found a fan base on DVD and was the most downloaded soundtrack of 2014. I think this one is just going to explode, and I can't imagine we won't be talking about a 'Pitch Perfect 3' or four or five after that."
The Sing-Off Live Tour with VoicePlay, Street Corner Symphony and The Exchange
Wednesday, March 18. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Royal Oak Music Theatre, 316 W. Fourth St.
Tickets are $45 in advance, $50 day of show.
Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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