#10 Well On My Way
The story behind Well On My Way always makes us laugh. Acappella was sound checking for a youth rally in central Arkansas when I pitched another song idea to the guys. The lyrics were, “Listen well I’m on my way, I’m singing every day . . . “ in a moderately slow tempo. The folk-country direction of the music was not quite appealing, so I stuck the lyrics back in my pocket and joined the sound check. During sound check, I started another song idea and coached the guys into singing a very upbeat jam of “Sing! His! Praises! Sing His Praises!” which we repeated over and over for an extended time. All of us enjoyed that song fragment but determined it needed lyrics and verses. After retreating to the green room, I pulled out the lyrics from my pocket of “Listen well I’m on my way . . .” and converted them to a rocking melody appropriate for the new “Sing His Praises” motif. Thus, Well On My Way was born and later recorded for the Sweet Fellowship album. It has become a favorite concert closer, complete with customized hand claps and audience participation.
#9 John The Revelator
I should probably not tell you this, but many of our songs have been ruined from bored singers on the road making humorous parodies of our concert repertoire. The words, “John the Revelator, he saw Jerusalem coming down,” did not escape such parody. Since Acappella set up their own heavy sound system on tour, extra assistance was always encouraged and welcomed. Huge sub-woofer “bass bins” were so heavy that they required two men to carry each speaker cabinet. A volunteer named John, who happened to work for a local hotel, offered to help carry our speakers. To our amazement, John lifted one of the bass cabinets all by himself and quickly carried it into the concert hall. Afterwards, he took the other heavy speaker in by himself, declining any assistance. We could not believe our eyes. From that time on, we began to sing, “John the elevator man, he worked at a big hotel…” We apologize if this “behind the scenes” story spoils this song from the Conquerors album for anyone.
#8 A cappella
As Acappella began to work with major record companies, music consultants suggested that we add instruments with a backup band. This idea was not entertained for one second due to our relentless commitment to being all vocal, a la, “a cappella;” — so much so that we chose this to be our name. In fact, one of our slogans was, “Acappella is Acappella.” I remember in the late 70’s how a major music executive told me in his office, unequivocally that “A cappella music will never be commercially successful.” Tell that to Pentatonix! Some churches rejected our music because it sounded too much like instruments. Well yes, we celebrate and demonstrate the fact that the human voice is the greatest “instrument of music” ever created and is astonishingly versatile. Rodney Britt can’t open his mouth without sounding like a bass. Some of our vocalists specialize in the art of vocal percussion. This song appears on the Conquerors album well ahead of the vocal innovations evolution that was yet to come.
Speaking of vocal percussionists, Acappella singer, Robin Brannon reminded me of a unique memory during one of our tours in Brazil, which happens to be the most visited nation for us outside of the United States. Many of the concert goers were shouting titles of their favorite songs, even though most could not speak English. As you know, things can easily get lost in translation and such was the case with their request of the song, “Hush” from the Set Me Free album. We distinctly heard the crowd shout, “Hush!,” “Hushy!” “Hushy!” “Shut-Up!”. Even though hush can mean “shut up!”, the song seems to lose some of its intended flavor if we sing, “So ‘shut up!’ don’t you worry, don’t cry.” If you have followed Acappella for several years, you will know that the arrangements will develop over time with new embellishments. One of my favorite examples is what I call the “trumpet trio” of the words, “God is standing by” which enters at the end of the audience-participation section of this song, as heard in this video.
#6 Sweet Fellowship
There is a bond that can only come through singing together. In fact, a recent study revealed how singing together can affect the physiology of people so their hearts begin to beat in sync! How cool is that? When we sing and harmonize, our hearts start to synchronize! That’s one reason why we are dedicated to the parallel priority of Acappella Ministries’ “Praise & Harmony” efforts which equip entire churches and train every member how to sing, especially those with no musical training. Singing has always been important to God’s people. Fortunately, singing should not be limited to the trained musicians, as the Scriptures encourage every believer to experience this joy. Singing brings unity. Sweet Fellowship is a popular and simple album. Acappella’s concert model features many fascinating combinations of “musicianaries” who have toured with us over our 35-year history. Our collection of veterans are uniquely bonded through music ministry and are honored to continue presenting concerts around the world.
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