Naturally 7 to perform at Keith-Albee

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naturally7_2889_wht-1000px-wide Naturally 7, an a capella group, will perform at the Keith Albee Theater Nov. 17. The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Choir was originally slated to perform that night, but the group was forced to cancel its North American tour.

World renowned group Naturally 7 will be performing at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Thursday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

In 2009, the group began to make their way in the industry when they performed to a packed house at London’s Pigalle, which included Coldplay’s Chris Martin and musician and producer Brian Eno. The next day, by invitation, the group joined Coldplay and Eno in the studio for a recording session. Since then, they have had performances and television debuts, such as being on Ellen, The Today Show and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The music group has a distinct a cappella style called “vocal play,” which is the art of becoming a musical instrument using the human voice. They simulate the sounds of an instrumental band using only their voices, mouths and distortion effects.

“After we got together and were singing a capella, people would often compare us saying ‘oh, well, you’re kind of like this group’ or ‘you’re kind of like that,’” Rod Eldridge, a member of the band, said. “That’s when we decided we wanted to be something unique and that’s how vocal play kind of grew out of traditional a capella.”

Roger Thomas recalled as a child, his brother, Warren Thomas, always wanted a drum set but their mother told him no, as it was too noisy. To compensate not having real drums to play, Warren learned how to make drum sounds by finding different ways of making the kick, toms, snare, cymbals and other drum sounds. Roger approached Warren with the idea from their childhood, and asked if he could become the voice of the band’s drummer to accompany Naturally 7.

As the idea evolved, other band members found unique aspects of their own voices to conclude which members would be which instrument.

“Some songs can be challenging depending on what musical elements make up the song,” Eldridge said. “A piano, for example. A piano is a very difficult song to recreate vocal play by. I would have to figure out what other sound can I make that could take the place of the piano but you don’t want it to take away from the song. You want people to say ‘yeah that is a great version or great interpretation of that song.’”

The group currently consists of Roger Thomas, who is the musical director, arranger, first baritone and rapping; Warren Thomas, who is the drums, guitar and third tenor; Rod Eldridge, who is the first tenor, scratching and trumpet; Rickey Cort, who is the fourth tenor and guitar; Dwight Stewart, who is the second baritone, vocals and trombone; Garfield Buckley, who is the second tenor and harmonica; and Kelvin “Kelz” Mitchel, who is the bass guitar and trumpet.

They have performed on tour with music superstar Michael Bublé, performed as special guests for the band Coldplay, and have recorded a duet with Ludacris on Quincy Jones’ recent studio album.

“We are currently working on a brand new album which will be out early next year,” Eldridge said. “We hope people are looking for that and hope people are looking for us on social media because we are planning to do a lot more with that.”

Tickets for the performance are free for full-time Marshall students and half-off for part-time students. Tickets are available in the box office located in the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse on the Marshall University campus. Box office hours are Monday through Friday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Krislyn Holden can be contacted at [email protected]

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