Music is the key to the soul. Or at least, that’s what people tend to say. As I sat in the midst of students, faculty and proud parents watching Southampton’s very own Jazzmanix Choir perform their Winter Concert, I began to question whether this was true or not. There’s nothing quite like letting the harmonious voices of over 100 individuals flow through you.
Choir and a cappella singing has become extremely popular since the release of Fox’s popular American teen musical comedy Glee in 2009; thousands of choir and a cappella groups have emerged all over the country. While many of these may be noteworthy, Southampton’s ‘Pop & Gospel Phenomena’ is unique because of its easy going, laughing and inspiring members. The club was founded over 18 years ago and it “strives to provide an opportunity for everyone at the university, and locally, to sing in a relaxed an friendly environment”. In contrast to many choirs, Jazzmanix allows informality that grants personality. Throughout the concert I found myself laughing alongside the audience at choir members acting out love oaths and fist-fights as they sang.
The concert itself began at 7:30 and was divided in two parts: 5 witty a cappella groups made up of 6-9 members and an overwhelming main choir with over 100 members. The ‘A Capella Explosion’ began with a group that calls itself Pentamanix. This group delivered an enthusiastic interpretation of two popular pop songs: ‘Somebody that I used to know’ by Gotye and ‘Coutning Stars’ by One Republic. The second of these was definitely stronger and better tuned but the weakness of the first song was probably due to nerves and anxiety. Olly & The Fun Time Band, the second group had a funny start mixing tenors with altos but, nonetheless was full of good vocals with a very good start. The ending of their second song, ‘Who’s Lovin’ You’ by The Jackson 5 was a very good cascade that faded out. Some of their members were out of tune but the laughter inspired by two tenors holding hands and proclaiming infinite love to one another in “That’s the way I like it/Shake your booty” and the inclusion of party trumpets, festive costumes and members literally shaking their booty to the song outweigh the vocal mistakes. Similarly, The Jazz Cats (4th group) and One Note Stand’s (5th group) interaction with the audience made a very enjoyable evening even better. Their interpretation of Disney’s ‘I’ll make a man out of you’ was impressive and accompanied by aggressive acting and funny proclamations ‘We are men’. There were also slower songs like Sister Act’s (3rd Group) ‘Gospel Medley’ and Jazz Cat’s ‘Georgia On My Mind’ that left me feeling cozy and happy. These last two songs showed another side to the groups, a sweeter side full of strong vocal performances and solos.
By the end of these everyone was waiting impatiently for the performance of the main choir and it did not disappoint. The choir was literally overflowing Turner Simms stage, almost reaching the audience itself. They streamed in from the sides of the auditorium and delivered ten happy pop and gospel songs. I was pleasantly surprised by their overall performance, having thought it would just be a strict and serious concert. Their accompanying band and the inclusion of fantastic solo performances made it even better. I would definitely recommend watching them in their upcoming Winchester Concert.