Photo and video by Matt Hembree (C’20)
By Luke Gair
On Saturday, November 18, two of Sewanee’s a capella groups performed alongside the Grammy-winning Fairfield Four as well as the world-renowned barbershop quartet, Rooftop Records. The performance by the four groups concluded a day of intensive a capella workshops where Sewanee’s groups worked with the two esteemed quartets. The Guerry Hall Auditorium was filled with excitement when the University’s all male group, Key of D, went on stage to perform.
They managed to get a few laughs from the audience while singing NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye,” topping it off with dance moves and classic hand gestures from the 2000 music video.
Jonathan Herring (C’21) consistently left the audience blown away after his several solos, where he would hit high notes and sing with fervent intensity. Herring loved “working with both the Fairfield Four and Rooftop Records” and he found it “exhilarating being able to perform with them.”
Cambiata, Sewanee’s a capella group featuring both men and women, performed “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” and “Seven Bridges Road.” Although they performed both of these songs at their previous show on Family Weekend, there was a serious difference in both their harmony and group dynamics.
After a day of working with both of the visiting quartets, Dana Garcia (C’21) found that “working with both groups was an incredible opportunity.” She continued by telling how they were “all so happy to work with us and it was evident that they cared and wanted to make a difference. In a matter of hours, they managed to transform our stage presence, energy levels, and vocal ability. Cambiata performed better than ever. I am so proud of how much we improved in one day.”
With an accumulation of five medals in the International Collegiate Quartet Competition, Rooftop Records had a strong, personable presence on stage. Their most memorable performance was of Josh Turner’s “Your Man,” where the group’s bass singer Jackson Pinder sung lead. He was able to stifle a few giggles from audience members when he would give the occasional wink to women sitting in the front row. It was clear why they were so critically acclaimed after hearing only a few of their arrangements.
Mostly known for their contributions to the hit film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Fairfield Four has a significant sound to their performances, one that has led to them winning three Grammy Awards. Although they had several unforgettable songs, the crowd went wild during their performance of “Amazing Grace.” Their music was different than Rooftop Records, showing a heavier focus on a more soulful and gospel-driven sound.
The night was chock-full of sheer talent and exciting performances. It was evident Sewanee’s a capella groups put valiant effort and time into assuring the audience a great performance. Although it may be a while before Rooftop Records and the Fairfield Four return to the Domain, their performances left the show’s attendees with unforgettable memories.