Review: Naturally 7. Hamer Hall. Melbourne 4th September 2015
Our resident vocal consultant, Emmanuella Grace was delighted to attend the Melbourne show of New York based vocal group Naturally 7 and offer us her thoughts.
I’m not sure if Naturally 7 make all their audiences feel so special but this gig felt like a definite win for Melbourne. Apart from the regular compliments from the stage directed at the southern city, it was a Melbourne based quartet On Church Street whom the band chose to open the show, selected from many aspirants in an Australia-wide competition to be their support act. Additionally, it appealed to my culinary pride that Melbourne was the only Australian city, in 5 weeks on the road, to host the band for a home cooked meal. The band gratefully mentioned that a number of times throughout the show too.
Naturally 7’s performance is a lesson in all that the voice is capable of. Forget what you thought you knew about singing, this is something else. The band described their approach to making music as Vocal Play, which they expressed literally as they mimed playing the instruments they were vocalising. The band demonstrated tight harmonies and absolute synchronisation, at times stepping away from the support of microphones and loop machines to prove they were equally capable when singing un-amplified, a cappella.
Personally the highlight was their perfectly balanced and very moving cover of Cold Play’s Fix You. It has been said that great chefs know when to stop adding ingredients to their dish; Naturally 7 have a knack for knowing exactly how much to bring to the vocal mix. The musical arrangements were brilliantly arranged, with segues between songs and even genres navigated smoothly and meshing naturally, such as their mashup of their original song Jericho that narrated the evolution of the group with musical influences spanning Baroque to Gospel, Reggae to Rhythm and Blues.
Naturally 7 has previously toured with artists such as Michael Bublé. Their current tour is in support of World Vision, an organisation “dedicated to working with children, families, and communities to overcome poverty and injustice”. The band tastefully raised awareness throughout the show, sharing stories and videos of their experiences travelling with World Vision. One of the most poignant moments of the show was the heartfelt dedication of the song Gone Too Soon to their friend, Melbourne Indian Dancer and Choreographer, Nikita Chawla, a horrifying reminder of the violence and injustice that happens even in our own back yards.
Given the rigours of their touring schedule, travelling between Australian cities via bus, the energy Naturally 7 brings to their performance is nothing short of astounding. Their energy is contagious, by the end of the second half of the show the entire auditorium was on their feet, dancing and singing with abandon, including the octogenarian couple in front of me.
The virtuosity and scope of the Naturally 7’s repertoire and performance served as a timely reminder of what can be achieved through hard work and camaraderie. Above all, as a singer and vocal coach I was reminded that to make great music, the most important skill is listening.