Why this a cappella mastermind is in town this week

The father of modern a cappella, Deke Sharon, who is associated with the popular television series, The Sing-Off, and the Pitch Perfect films, is back in town for his annual Camp A Cappella at Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED

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The father of modern a cappella, Deke Sharon, who is associated with the popular television series, The Sing-Off, and the Pitch Perfect films, is back in town for his annual Camp A Cappella at Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED

Deke Sharon is considered the father of modern a cappella, and rightfully so. The singer, producer, director and educator, who is back in town for his annual Camp A Cappella at Wright State University June 25-30, made it his mission to take his beloved vocal music to the mainstream.

“By the time I graduated from college I felt like a cappella would be huge if people only knew about it,” he said recently, speaking from his Bay Area home. “Literally, everyone laughed at me, all the way down to my high school choral director. You’d think he’d be the most supportive person in the world. I had a bee in bonnet so I graduated from college and never did anything else.”

Today, Sharon is associated with a cappella franchises like the popular television series, “The Sing-Off,” and the “Pitch Perfect” films. His new series, “Pitch Battles,” recently premiered on England’s BBC One.

Sharon was already making strides to popularize the music before those big hits. He was in college when he started the Contemporary A Cappella Society. He also started a publishing company and founded the International Championship of College A Cappella, which was the inspiration for “Pitch Perfect.”

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“I did everything I could to get more people singing,” Sharon said. “My life’s work is to spread harmony through harmony. I really do believe, especially right now, we need more vocal harmony in the world. When people sing together, they learn to bridge differences and to listen and understand. That’s a powerful yet it was a tradition that goes back to the beginning of prehistoric times.

“People sang sea chanteys on the decks of ships, work songs out in the fields and pub songs in pubs,” he continued. “There was music everyone because we had to create our own music. It’s just not like that anymore so I’m just trying to get us back to that.”

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Sharon co-created Camp A Cappella with Fairmont High School teacher and choral instructor Brody McDonald, the area’s own champion of contemporary vocal music.

“I met Brody at ‘The Sing-Off,’ when he brought the first ever high school group on the show,” Sharon said. “His work with them is amazing. He basically taught himself this new style, which he did incredibly quickly. He took to it like a duck to water.

“Shortly thereafter, we started musing on the idea and I realized the camp could happen with Brody,” he added. “I can bring some big guns to this and he has the infrastructure and the scholastic knowledge.”

Artist info: www.dekesharon.com

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