Bexleyheath acappella group hitting the right notes
PUBLISHED: 09:30 17 January 2013
It's official - Bexleyheath has the best acappella group in the whole of the UK.
Now the 40 members of the all-female troupe will travel to the tropical islands of Hawaii in November to compete for the international title, battling it out against 31 national winners across the globe.
For a group only formed in 2009, Viva Acappella have enjoyed astounding success, with their dulcet tones attracting significant acclaim.
Despite working full time, musical director Gaynor Dugay makes the 160-mile round trip from her Suffolk home at least once a week to practise.
The 50-year-old said: “I was living in Orpington when the group formed but moved to the country soon afterwards so had to make a decision on whether I stayed. This is a great group with huge potential. If I’d left to join another group more local to me I would always be wondering what we could have achieved.”
Viva Acappella began with 15 girls who belonged to various other choruses in the region and members come from all over Kent and the South East.
The group quickly grew in popularity and reputation and by the time they sang their way to national victory in Birmingham last May, they had almost tripled in size.
Despite this, they were still one of the smaller choruses- with the competition split into small, medium and large groups.
Michelle Daniels, 34, was seven months pregnant when Viva Acappella scooped first prize and said it is virtually unheard of for small groups to win.
“It was a great performance,” she said. “We were competing against choruses with 100 plus people.
“It was a huge surprise and none of us can wait to go to Hawaii – I don’t think anyone in the group has been before. We’re lucky because previous international competitions have been held in Denver and Houston, so this is a little more glamorous and exotic.”
Acappella involves singing without any accompaniment from musical instruments, putting a lot of pressure on the voices of the participants.
The group tries to keep its act fresh and current, so includes a range of pop, rock, show tunes and ballads in its repertoire.
Michelle admits Viva Acappella is keen to move away from the idea that acappella is linked to barbershop music – which brings connotations of men in stripey outfits and hats. The mother-of-four said: “We wanted to make performances more visually exciting for audiences which is why our choreography is very important. The show we put on is as crucial as how our voices sound.”
The group, which only had 30 members when it won in Birmingham, is always looking for more members. Gaynor, is a firm believer in the benefits of joining an organised musical troupe.
She said: “It’s a great opportunity to get away from the stresses or issues in your personal life. It is for me anyway. We have a great time and are a very close-knit group.”
Viva Acappella meets every Thursday evening in the Veterans Club of Bexley in Danson Road, Bexleyheath at 7.45pm to 10.30pm.
n Call Cherie on 07427 648145, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vivaacappella.co.uk for more information.See Viva Acappella in action on our website www.bexleytimes.co.uk