SoVoSó is a highly visual and imaginative a cappella vocal band that sings a compelling mix of rhythm and blues, world-jazz, pop, gospel, and improvisational music. Culturally diverse, each member of the quintet is a skilled soloist and composer in his or her own right, trained in widely varying musical genres that equally enrich and strengthen the group as a whole.
Originally assembled in 1986 by renowned vocalist Bobby McFerrin, members of SoVoSó performed with McFerrin in his a cappella group Voicestra until 1993. Voicestra toured extensively in the United States, as well as in Brazil and Japan, and appeared on in "An Evening with the Boston Pops, "The Arsenio Hall Show," Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show," NBC's "The Today Show," VH-1 to One, and Arts and Entertainment Review. They recorded the soundtrack for the Oscar award-winning documentary "Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt," and were featured on Bobby McFerrin's CD "Medicine Music." Two members of SoVoSó sang on the 1997 McFerrin release "Circlesongs" and continue to tour with Mcferrrin as part of this ensemble.
The group has evolved and shaped its own musical style since then, renaming themselves SoVoSó ("from the Soul to the Voice to the Song") in 1994. Their innovative sound can be heard on their critically acclaimed CD’s. "World Jazz A Cappella" won "Best Studio Album" from the 1997 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards as well as "Best Original Pop Song" ("Say") and "Best Pop Cover Song" ("Thank You"). Their 1998 release, "Truth and Other Stories" has garnered CARA nominations in the jazz album, jazz song ('Gift of Music") and world beat song ("Be of Love") categories. As evident on these recordings, SoVoSó's trademark is their exceptional ability to transform themselves into a vocal orchestra, highlighted by spontaneous musical inventions. The singers further explore the extended capability of the human voice with such elements as groove-oriented bass lines, syncopated guitar or horn-like vocal riffs, and compelling vocal percussion, all of which support exquisite harmonies and intricate melodies. These elements are captured on the band’s two most recently released albums “Bridges” (2000) and their long awaited holiday album “Seasonings” (2002).
The ensemble's foundation is rooted in the art of circle singing, in which ensemble support for improvised solos is created through inter-locking patterns that are spontaneously composed. In addition to its own style of free-form, collective improvisation. In concert, SoVoSó captivates audiences with their natural playfulness, humor, and unpredictability.
SoVoSó's repertoire consists of original compositions and other songs that present a global perspective: African-American spirituals, blues, R & B, gospel, Afro-Latin idioms, pop, world beat, reggae, and jazz.
SoVoSó also collaborates with a wide range of artists. The group was commissioned to compose music to Maya Angelou's inaugural poem, "On the Pulse of Morning," for San Francisco's City of Poets Celebration. In 1998 San Francisco choreographer Robert Moses commissioned SoVoSó to compose music for his dance "Mother May I." The score won a 1999 Isadora Duncan Award. SoVoSó also performs in “SongCircus” – a thrilling circus and music show produced by Tandy Beal. The group co-wrote and performed with McFerrin the music for "Dirt," a part of the Oberlin Dance Company's "Western Women" Trilogy. Another dynamic collaboration and highlight of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, was SoVoSó's on-stage improvisations with groups from Africa, Russia and Brazil.
First Prize winners and "Audience Favorites" of the 1997 National Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, SoVoSó has shared the stage with Gladys Knight, Michael McDonald, Bobby McFerrin, Maya Angelou, Lyle Lovett, Tracy Chapman, Poncho Sanchez, Diane Reeves, Take Six, Jack De Johnette, Joe Henderson, and the Manhattan Transfer. Noted SoVoSó engagements include the Monterey Jazz Festival, New York’s Bottom Line, Villa Montalvo and the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival.
SoVoSó is a living study in how gifted musicians can come together to make a wholly original sound without compromising any member's individual approach to the music. This closely-knit ensemble creates a transcendent magic where each voice contributes to a higher musical purpose. The result is a spiritual expression with an emotional range that fills the heart and frees the soul.
Ashling Cole - Vocals)
David Worm - Vocals
Sunshine Becker - Vocals
Vernon Bush - Vocals
Bryan Dyer - Vocals)
Zoe Ellis - Vocals
ON PRIMARILY ACAPPELLA RECORDS:
SoVoSo World Jazz Acappella
Truth & other Stories
It's Just Live @ Yoshi's (August 2004)
Crack the Nut! (November 2004)
Then & Now (August 2005)
Precious (German Release)
Rave Reviews from Presenters
[+ Show ]
A festival presenter’s dream...audi- ence loved them and wanted more." _Dan DeWayne, Cal. World Mu...A festival presenter’s dream...audi-
ence loved them and wanted more."
_Dan DeWayne, Cal. World Music Festival
SoVoSó is a great festival act...very colorful and alive.
_Tim Jackson, Monterey Jazz Festival
We were thrilled to host SoVoSó...they drew a full
house and their performance was mesmerizing, riveting
and exhilarating...I'd have SoVoSó back in a heartbeat.
_Greg Phillips, Marin JCC Centerstage, San Rafael, CA
SoVoSó is visually and soulfully stimulating...when
my staff starts raving, that's when you know they’re
really good. _Jan Takeshita, Yoshi's Jazz Club, Oakland, CA
a fresh perspective on the jazz vocal ensemble, with
diversity and flexibility. _Cleveland’s Tri-City Jazz Fest
SoVoSo delivered a first-rate performance that kept
our patrons engaged from start to finish. Their unique
blend of world-jazz-pop music was terrific and down-
right fun. The audience loved it!
_Joan McLean Braun, College of Music Univ of Colorado - Boulder
A splendid show, groovy, lively; our audiences found
SoVoSo not merely entertaining, but uplifting.
_Wendy J. Fanning, Univ of Wash. Cultural Programs
SoVoSó's vocal workshop left our students on cloud
nine...they experienced the possibilities of what
vocal jazz can be and how far you can take it...even
instrumentalists were enriched and inspired by
SoVoSó's creative, unique presentation.
_Yvonne Kuhlman, Luther College, Decorah, IA
We haven’t had such rave reviews since the King
Singers were here six years ago...I am very impressed
with their high degree of professionalism...their easy
manner and willingness to demonstrate their astound-
ing vocal talents proves to me that their message does
truly come ‘from the Soul to the Voice to the Song.’
They are truly world class!
_Marsha Carlisle, Texas Choral Directors' Association
The educational value and experience for our school
ensembles was unmatched. The SoVoSó artists were
knowledgeable and patient. Students have a new
respect for their voices and the ways they are able to
express music and ideas through the voice.
_Susan Stone, Tri-C Jazz Fest, Cleveland, OH
SoVoSo Delivers Soul, Voice, Song
[+ Show ]
By Gary Walker Special to the Herald The acappella sextet SoVoSo kicked off the "Jazz on the Hill"...By Gary Walker
Special to the Herald
The acappella sextet SoVoSo kicked off the "Jazz on the Hill" series Saturday night to a an energetic crowd of vocal jazz aficionados in the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall.
The group – which derives its name from the first two letters of the words "soul," "voice" and "song" – has a unique brand of vocal artistry that is inventive, energetic and soulful.
Singing mostly original compositions, the six-member ensemble’s impeccable blend and style transports the listener to another place. In the jazz-rock tune "Say," the men provided the vibrant percussive sounds and driving bass line as the women sang the plaintive refrain "say whatcha mean, mean whatcha say." The trio of female voices glided through harmonies, dynamics and vocal articulations expertly.
Sunshine Becker was featured in the chart entitled "New Groove." Her crystal-clear voice projected the heartfelt lyric as the ensemble supported the harmonies and rhythms seamlessly. The modulation was super as Becker set up the key change with a two-three note lead-in followed by a dead-on chord in the new key by the rest of the group. Great!
"For I Am the Moon" showcased Destani Wolf in a funk-rock piece with lots of voice clicks and other percussive sounds from the singers. Joey Blake laid down a powerful bass line as David Worm and Bryan Dryer added percussive color to the chart.
Wolf’s soprano voice shimmered with expressiveness as she moved through this haunting tune. Turning the bass line duties over to Bryan Dyer, Joey Blake was featured in the crowd-pleaser of the evening as he sang a great interpretation of the traditional spiritual "Down by the Riverside."
Adding a shuffle-style pulse to the piece, Blake sang the soulful melody conveying passion and spiritual enlightenment.
Twice during the performance the sextet performed an improvisational piece in which everything was created on the spot. They would begin with Blake laying down a bass line or David Worm articulating a variety of percussive sounds to a moderate pulse. Layered above the bass and percussive lines were the ladies as they entered with either improvisational scat singing or a simple melody and lyric. From there they would use their collective ears to play off of one another. The result was creative, lively and fun. It should be noted that it takes great musicianship to pull this off, and they did it effortlessly.
The group closed out the program with an in-the-groove funk tune called "Boom, Baby." Imitating and voicing sounds such as electric guitar, cymbals, drums and bass, the ensemble had the crowd moving to the contagious beat.
Learning to See the Beauty
[+ Show ]
SoVoSó CD "Then & Now" review Learning to See the Beauty The range of sound the human voice is ...SoVoSó CD "Then & Now" review
Learning to See the Beauty
The range of sound the human voice is capable of
producing is truly astounding and fully explored by
the Oakland-based a cappella ensemble SoVoSó. The
group has been together since 1994 and has accumulated
over a dozen nominations and no less than nine
Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards for previous
projects including Best Jazz Album for Truth and Other
Stories. Their sixth and newest CD, Then & Now, is
bound to be another highly awarded venture. As the
title implies, the “album is a retrospective of who we
were, and are now.” “Then” is represented here by six
previously released songs included in the thirteen
song set. Then & Now is independently recorded and
Sunshine Becker’s glorious voice shines in my
favorite song from the CD, “Wanting Memories.” It is
a lovely melody with lyrics that ask us to learn to
see the beauty of the world. I feel the song is
telling us to see and accept the world for just what
it is, regardless of the transient nature of
relationships or the filter of how we, or the world,
look to others. Sunshine is such an appropriate name
for someone with a voice that warms the soul and
brings light to the world. “Life & Love” is another
pretty piece featuring the vocals of this talented
lady, and a profoundly moving spiritual message.
“One Planet” is a song about one of the great hopes
in life, coming together and stopping mankind from
destroying themselves and this planet. The lyrics are
moving, but the “drums” are amazing! Martha Mims
reported that when she saw SoVoSó live at the Vallejo
Jazz Festival in August, she kept “looking for the
drummer,” until she realized that one of the group was
doing the “drumming” with his voice. It is an amazing
thing to hear and try to visualize the music being
made with nothing more than vocal chords.
The group’s original arrangement of the classic
“People Get Ready” is fresh and hauntingly spiritual.
International Reggae Artist Rankin’ Scroo performs on
“Hurt So Bad.” “For the Forest” deserves special
mention. It was written as an improvisation for the
Headwaters Forest Project and includes what sound like
dolphin “voices.” But again, the amazing sonance is
As a whole, the CD is meditative, reflective, full of
hope, with lyrics about making the world a better
place. I listen to the CD a lot at work and while
writing. It has a calming effect on the nerves, so is
perfect after a stressful day, or any time you crave
something a bit more sophisticated for your listening
pleasure. And it is a pleasure.
Then & Now, and five other SoVoSó CDs are available
at www.sovoso.com. Two holiday albums are among the
offerings and with Christmas approaching more rapidly
than I’d like to admit, you better get online and
SoVoSo's set list if different for every performance and is written right before the band goes onstage. The set includes mostly original material from previously released records, new material, some cover songs and spontaneous improvisational pieces never sung before.
COVER SONGS PERFORMED:
Use Me Up
How High the Moon
Fight the Power
Yah Mo be there
People Get Ready
There are no upcoming dates at this time.