Vocal Rasta: Set your voice free
Vocal Rasta, a group which is here to create a pathway to break free and express, is an Acapella group. Now people who have no idea about what an Acapella is, let us tell you that it is a group of people who come together and produce music/sound through their voice- no instruments, just voice. So, these people can actually produce sound of tabla, guitar, trumpet etc. you name it, they can do it.
In conversation with Antoine Redon, we got to know a lot about this choir. Antoine himself has been singing and training people in choir groups working on harmonies since a long time. He moved to India some 10 years back with an aim to promote the art of Acapella, stage musicals and to make the art form famous. It has been just nine months that he formed this group.
“IVocal Rasta was a demand for an outreach program for the music festival ‘Sounds of Freedom’ produced by Teamwork , which is a concept of freedom of expression, which we did in November. We performed in 10 different public spaces to promote this festival and the concept worked really well. After this experience we keep getting shows and that’s how we become a group.”
They sing songs that express freedom, gypsy, African and various songs coming from different origins and soon started to compose on our own. “We use only our voice and the word Rasta meant a lot- as in Hindi it meant a road and in Afro reference it meant freedom. Hence, we thought Vocal Rasta would suffice the motive of the group.”
Talking about the training session, Antoine expressed, “If we have 15 people in group, we make three groups with 5 in each. Each group comes with their ideas and works on each song and develops it. the compositions have a Hindi and English parts. Some are structural and some are story telling. We take time in each part. We do warm up to open the voices and when we start with song we teach separate parts to all. The first hearing of the song is very crucial: to learn a song by heart 70% is digested in the first listening”
Since it is a group performance, one of the criteria in the first audition to join Vocal Rasta is to be able to adjust in accordance to other’s voice. The stage presence is also important, which comes after couple of programs. The best place to perform for us is a place with good echo and no need of using microphone. A tomb sort of places. “We always feel better without microphones but if we have to work with microphones we have to do a different exercise and we take more time for sound check.”
“I think Vocal Rasta has a great potential because there are very few groups who are doing any of such work. It is a fresh idea but we have to adapt ourselves to the music today and learn new songs. I think we should introduce beat-box too since it gives a peppy feel.
The difference between Opera and Acapella is that the Opera is a set of performance, one cannot do much of experiment in it but Acapella allows you to introduce your own melody. Opera is everything together- many singers, orchestra and has various adaptations, whereas Acapella is group centric and the group is only the hero of the show.
“We always look for singers who love to explore things, are young and enthusiastic and have time to dedicate. We would love if some men participate with us.”
The group has performed 16 shows including in Sounds of Freedom, Jaipur Literature Fest, Meta Theatre Award and has also performed a song composed by Kailash Kher. So, yes a lot has happened and they are looking forward for more such exposure. So, the next time you get to know that it is the Vocal Rasta who is performing, we recommend you to not miss them because missing them is like missing a wholesome experience. And who knows during the performance you discover the magic you had in you.