Matt Greenberg on the Inspiration for "History of Harmony" - Chicago a cappella


I’ve always loved vocal harmony. From the first Carpenters record that came into our house when I was a kid (Close to You…autographed!), I was hooked on the lush sound of layered voices. Later, I discovered the music that my parents grew up with in the early 1950s, blissed out to the dreamy harmonies of 1970s pop hits on “American Top 40,” and even formed a quartet in high school to emulate the Manhattan Transfer. No surprise, singing in choir became an important part of my life, inspired in part by my early fascination with those pop vocal harmonies. So, the theme of this concert is, in some ways, the reason I have spent most of my professional life at Chicago a cappella.

In the fall of 2022, as I began thinking seriously about how to put this program together, I stumbled across Deke Sharon’s website. Of course, I knew Deke was the guy almost singlehandedly responsible for the popular success of contemporary a cappella over the past 30 years. What I didn’t know is that he’s also a bit of a historian, and in fact he created a seminar called “History of A Cappella, 1900-Present.” I figured his participation was a longshot, but I was thrilled that 20 minutes after I reached out, he responded, saying “This sounds like a fantastic project, count me in. I’m busy, but I can find time for something this creative and momentous.”

I’m deeply grateful to Deke for his generous and creative partnership in putting this program together, to John Trotter for giving it the green light and being a supportive sounding board, to Paul Langford for leading the musical work with care and skill, and to the talented singers of Chicago a cappella for bringing it to life on stage.

Here’s to harmony!

—Matt Greenberg

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