Getting Funky: First Annual Richmond Rhythm A Cappella Invitational

Richmond Rhythm

By Liz Butterfield

Originally published November 12, 2010   thehornrva.com

The first annual Richmond Rhythm a cappella invitational flooded St. Andrew’s Church with energy and music this past Saturday.

Richmond Rhythm, which is sponsored by VCU’s R.A.M.ification’s a cappella group, was an invitational a cappella event that featured Note-Oriety of JMU, Low Key of JMU, Cleftomaniacs of William & Mary, Stairwells of William & Mary, Off the Cuff of University of Richmond, and our very own R.A.M.ifications. Tickets were $5 at the door for students and $7 for the public. By the time 5:00 rolled around everyone was pumped, but I don’t think anyone anticipated exactly how great this first iteration of the annual event would be.

Originally named the Compass Singers, R.A.M.ifications today is composed of 20 singers and one vocal percussionist (aka beat boxer). Despite the phenomenal talent and energy of this group, only a couple singers are actually voice or music majors, which only emphasizes the enormity of their dedication to their group as a whole. As Richmond Rhythm was their first sponsored event, there was a lot of anxiety and anticipation for this performance.

The concert started out with “Right Here,” by Note-Oriety of JMU. Each group performed two songs for a total of twelve songs and almost an hour of music.

I found that most of the songs were one of two things: really upbeat or very mellow, with little in between. Take Low Key’s version of MGMT’s “Kids,” for example, was moving, and gave a totally unexpected impression for such a popular song. Likewise, I loved when the all-male Stairwells audaciously performed “Joker” by the Steve Miller Band. I’m pretty sure some of the more conservative members in attendance that night were not prepared for their innuendo in the song, which made it even more fun to listen to.

The greatest thing about this concert was how the groups could put you in one mood one minute, and transform your mood one song later. When Cleftomaniacs performed “9 Crimes,” by Damien Rice, I was genuinely touched. It was not the well-understood lyrics of the song, but the intensity of each individual singer that drew me into their music. A cappella, I have learned, is just as much about singing well as it is about communicating the meaning of a song through choreography and expression. It is amazing to me that a whole group can be so in sync with a single song, but have so much of their own individual groove to contribute.

R.A.M.fications finished off the performance with “When I Used to Love You” by John Legend and “Misery Business” by Paramore. The concert seemed to end quickly, though the groups sang for almost an hour. They were so good that the audience would have enjoyed listening to them for the whole afternoon, if there wasn’t the risk they’d all lose their voices.

There may have been a couple groups that stood out more than the others, but it was the energy of all of the performers that made Richmond Rhythm an amazing concert, and an event to look forward to next year.

R.A.M.ifications will be performing their last concert of the semester Sunday, December 5, at 7 p.m. in the Commons Theater.

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