In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
The origins of the group date back to New York City in 1999 when Roger Thomas started the group with his brother, Warren, and five other talented singers they had come to know over the years from singing around the city. Having been in and out of several traditional male groups over the years, Roger developed an affinity for a cappella sounds and a unique ability to create distinct harmony arrangements. When invited to sing at a major a cappella competition in New York, they won the competition, moved onto the nationals and took away two more wins.
Riding the wave of this newfound success and still unable to decide if Naturally 7 were going to be an a cappella group or a traditional band, Roger had a novel idea: they could be both.
He remembered as a child, his brother Warren always wanted a drum set but their mother always told him no because it was just too noisy. So Warren learned to make true drum sounds, with different ways of making the kick, toms, snare, cymbals, and other drum sounds, to compensate for not having real drums to play. Roger approached Warren with the idea from their childhood, and asked if he could become the band's drummer, so to speak, to accompany Naturally 7 on up-tempo songs.
The idea evolved, and the other band members found unique aspects of their own voices to determine which members would BE which instrument. After all, Roger thought, if the human voice truly was an instrument, it should not matter which instrument it needed to be. And for Naturally 7, it really didn't matter; "VOCAL PLAY" was born. What is the difference between Vocal Play and a cappella? A cappella is defined as singing without instruments. Vocal Play is singing AS instruments, and BECOMING an instrument with the voice.
What makes Naturally 7 special, is that every instrument sound that they sing is created from the human voice. There are no actual drums, guitars, horns, flutes, or any other instrument that is heard when listening to them perform; it's the band members playing each of their vocal instruments.
The group has recorded a number of CD's over the years - "Non Fiction" (2000) the aptly titled "What Is It" (2003), "Christmas... It's A Love Story" (2004) and "Ready II Fly" (2006). The latter contains the YouTube-hit "Feel It (In the Air Tonight"). Naturally 7's now famous Paris subway performance of the song, has received over four and a half million hits on YouTube alone and the number of people discovering the group, adds to that figure daily. The song turned into a Top 3-chart- success in France, Belgium and South Africa and made the single charts in other European countries, such as Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal.
In January 2009, the group released a special album, 'Wall Of Sound' exclusively for the UK and Ireland, to commemorate their participation at the 'Royal Variety Performance'. The album contained known material from previous albums, as well as 5 brand-new tracks and entered the British Album-Charts in the first week after release at #29.
They have appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, performing "Stardust" with Michael Buble. In November 09, the group travelled to Bermuda, taking part in Quincy Jones' 2009 Bermuda Music Festival performing before an enthusiastic crowd!
February of 2010 saw Naturally 7 spend three weeks in Vancouver as performance guests during the Olympic Winter Games and in March they returned as Special Guests on Buble's 'Crazy Love'-Tour around the World!
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Review: When we first heard and saw these seven beautiful singers, on the stage of the 1999 National Harmony Sweeps Finals in San Rafael, CA, they were the NY Regional Champs, a gospel group called "Seven," recently formed as a group and unknown on the a cappella scene. A sublime 12 minute set later they were the surprise winners, and these talented, soulful men have never looked back since then! Their latest release, of many excellent albums and DVDs we've praised in the Singers.com catalog, "Hidden in Plain Sight," is a wonder, and has drawn superstar-like attention. Difficult to pick favorites among these 14 cuts, but a cover of Coldplay's hit "Fix You," an audience favorite on their live shows, also stands out for us, "Galileo" features a wonderful (and actually licensed) sample of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," and the gorgeous, elemental "Mahalia" samples Mahalia Jackson's "Trouble of the World" while giving a nod to the group's spiritual roots. Other favorites are what group front man Roger Thomas calls "Hybrids," where the group takes well-known songs like Wham's "Everything She Wants" and makes it the impetus for their own song, "Life Goes On;" and the group imitates all the instruments on Art of Noise's "Moments in Love," bringing their own song into the mix. "Rhapsody to the Queen" is another favorite of the group's eight originals on the album. It's clear to us how much Naturally 7 has become the cutting edge in the a cappella world by all the reviewers who rave about how 7 showcases the "awesome power of the human voice." This is what we've been talking about for decades when reviewing truly transcendent, envelope-pushing artists. Naturally 7 has clearly risen to this rare, atmospheric level, and we would invite you to celebrate this achievement with us by treating yourself to "Hidden in Plain Sight!"
Songlist: Tempus Fugit (Motus1), Keep The Customer Satisfied, Rhapsody of the Queen, Can't Take The Credit, Galileo feat. Queen, Moments (Ive Been Loved), Life Goes On, Put You On To This, Fix You, Need You With Me, Mahalia, Take It (Golden Gates), Run Away, Eppur Si Muove (Motus V)
Wall of Sound
Review: Here is a "best of" collection from one of the most innovative a cappella groups performing today.
Songlist: Wall of Sound, Feel It (In The Air Tonight), As Tears Go Bye, Gone With the Wind, Broken Wings, More Than Words , What I'm Lookin' 4, Closer Now, Heaven Knows, It Is What It Is , Let It Rain (Harmony Mix), U Can't Hear Me, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Say You Love Me, Amazing Grace
Joy To The World
Review: In 1999 Naturally Seven had been singing together as a group only a short time when they won the NYC Harmony Sweeps Regionals, then stunned the a cappella world by winning the National Finals in San Rafael. They were quickly signed by PAC Records to record their excellent debut CD, "Non-Fiction." Touring extensively in the US, they went on to create big followings in Japan, Switzerland, Austria and particularly Germany, while recording 4 more CDs, one of them "Christmas...It's a Love Story." 28 songs, featuring Nat 7's trademark complex, butter-smooth Gospel harmonies - some favorites: the wonderful originals "What Day Is It?," "Love Story," "No Christmas Without You," "In Your Eyes (Baby Girl)," "Can I Play My Song" and "If the Lord Allows;" and the traditional carols "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing," "What Child Is This?," "Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night." Also nice are "Rejoice," "Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony 5th Movement (The Shepherd's Song)," "Pachelbel's Canon in D," "Stille Nacht" (German), "Kiyoshi Kono Yoru," (Japanese) "Nuit de Paix," (French) and "Noche de Paz" (Spanish) and "That Thing/We Wish You A Merry Christmas." These seven young men have produced an amazing body of work, and one of the best Holiday CDs of the year!
Songlist: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Love Story, Hark, The Herald Angels Sing, What Child Is This? (Greensleeves), No Christmas Without You, In Your Eyes (Baby Girl), O Little Town Of Bethlehem, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, We Three Kings, Silent Night, Kiyoshi Kono Yoru , Nuit de Paix , Noche de Paz , O Holy Night, Happy Christmas (War Is Over), Two Friends, White Christmas, Joy To The World
Review: Naturally 7 brought their unique style of Vocal Play to Montreux in 2007. These seven incredibly talented singers from New York manage to sound like a full band without the use of any instruments other than their voices and have been wowing audiences around the world. This concert marked Naturally 7's first appearance at the festival and their distinctive arrangements of tracks such as :In The Air Tonight", "Broken Wings", and "Sounds Of Silence" marked a new chapter in their ongoing success story.
Songlist: Fly Baby, Can Ya Feel It?, Broken Wings, Another You, What Is It? (Excuse Me), Say You Love Me, Simon & Garfunkel Medley, Back to The Essence / Solos, Feel It (In The Air Tonight), Open Your Eyes
I Can't Doo Dat
Review: Since we were first blown away by seven-man Contemporary Christian a cappella group Naturally Seven (then simply called Seven) at their win at the 1999 Harmony Sweeps Finals, they have released some very special recordings, "Non Fiction," "Live in Berlin," "What Is It?" and "Christmas A Love Story." "Ready II Fly" is a cut above even those winners, 18 stunning songs that make us look for the "all sounds made by the human voice" disclaimer, and we of course find it. Naturally 7's Christian ministry has tremendous depth and feeling, but what we especially appreciate here is songs like "I Can't Doo Dat," which addresses the issue of women fans approaching these beautiful black men for sex after a concert; "True Friends (and Family)" that speaks to their importance and of acting with integrity; "Cool," which sings of the impressive power of having God in one's life; and "Forever For You" which celebrates the concept of an endless love, for God and one's partner. Lyrically, this is powerful stuff - I think of it as life-changing wisdom being passed on by the ultimate musical role models. "Can You Feel It," "Open Your Eyes," "Feel It in the Air Tonight," "Fly Baby," "Let It Rain" - these are some of the best, most cutting-edge a cappella cuts we have ever heard. "Ready II Fly" is highly recommended, and one of the best of the year. And if you ever have a chance to experience N7 live in concert, even if you have to go to Germany to do it, don't miss it!
Songlist: Can Ya Feel It?, Open Your Eyes, Feel It (In the Air Tonight), Harder Than That, How Could It Be?, Forever for You, Cool, Never, I Can't Doo Dat, 4Life, Tradition, Fly Baby, Let It Rain, What I'm Lookin' 4, New York, Comfort You, Close2Me, True Friend (and Family)
What Is It?
Review: The seven deeply spiritual young New York men who called themselves "Seven" and became 1999 Harmony Sweeps Champs now are called Naturally 7 were often asked, "What is it you're doing?" Instead of answering, they wrote a song: "What Is It?" which became the title of their second CD. If the first ("Non-Fiction," on PAC Records) was still highly jazzful and musicologically composed, the second offers a new quality of pop music, striking sparks as soon as you hear it, with an organic fizz to it. Naturally Seven summon up soul, rap, rock and folk from their throats in harmonious balance; their repertoire consists half of their own compositions, half of cover versions. At first listen, we were certain that the group had gone top 40 and was using a hot soul band, until we read the disclaimer "All Sounds A Cappella, all musical sounds crated by the human voice." Listen to the title tune, the Kool & The Gang-flavored "I Wanna Be Where U.R. (Rescue Me)," or "No Fool For You," and you'll hear the a cappella envelope being seriously pushed. 14 songs, hard to pick favorites, but a funky "Broken Wings" cover, "Another You," "Get Ready," "Say You Love Me," "Closer," "Back to the Essence" and "Grace" work for us. The fact that for several years the group has been been busy creating a huge following in Germany, Switzerland and Japan is our loss in the US. One of the best, most influential CDs of the year, on many levels, Beautiful and extensive liner notes.
Songlist: So The Question Is, What Is It? (Excuse Me), Gone With The Wind, Broken Wings, Another You, Music Is The Key, I Wanna Be Where U.R., More Than Words, No Fool For You, Get Ready, Say You Love Me, Closer, Back To The Essence, Grace
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Review: The first recording from the 1999 Harmony Sweepstakes winners, who enthralled the audience will their radiant countenances and joyful energy. These young singers from New York, though having performed as a unit for only a few short months, displayed an impressive maturity and sophistication. Their gospel background has been good preparation for the brilliant rainbow of tonalities that characterize their technically ambitious, yet passionate approach. The original compositions were written by the group; they also write their own arrangements. With seven voices, they have a palette to choose from that is deep, intense and brilliant. Definitely influenced by Take 6 (their rendition of 'Bless This House' attests to this), their sound is more urbanized, funkier, immediate, as heard on the vocal percussion driven 'Train.' Lyrically, 'Non-Fiction' espouses themes of salvation and redemption, but songs such as 'Last Days,' and their incredible interpretation of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' require no affiliation, aside from a love of captivating harmony.
Songlist: Opening Meditation (The Path I Take), Theme From Mahogany, Sit-Back-Relax..., WDRG-AM, Bridge Over Troubled Water, All Of You, ...At The Tone, Born To Worship, Last Days, Blessed Assurance, Y'All Hear Dat, Train, Last Days (Reprise), Bless This House, Closing Meditation (The Path I Take), Have I Ever Told You (Bonus Track)
Review: When we last saw and heard Naturally 7 live, they were called "Seven," dressed in matching dark suits and confidently blowing away the Harmony Sweeps Finals competition on a San Rafael stage in 1999. "Live In Berlin" was recorded live at the "Meilenwerk" concert hall in Berlin, March 13th, 2004, and the guys are looking fine, dressed like rap stars at a music awards show, but the story here is the amazing talent of these men, and their music. 12 songs: "Sit Back, Relax" welcomes us in, and Jamal Reed's guitar solo on "BMG (Be My Guest)" is one of the best we've heard. Their opening number at the Finals, "Bless This House," is even better than we remember, as is "Amazing Grace," and a stunning "Simon and Garfunkel Medley" reminds us of their show-stopper "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The good stuff keeps coming with "Say You Love Me," "Back To The Essence," a stunning arrangement of "Another You," the title tune of their second CD, "What Is It," "Have I Ever Told You" and "Music Is The Key." Throughout there is great camera work, close-ups of the group and the appreciative audience. There is some very cool bonus material: "First Time in Japan," "At Telecom," an interview with Nat7 at the hotel lobby, "Photo Gallery" and "Biography." The guys are stars, and this amazing DVD leaves no doubt of that! In Dolby Digital 5.1
Songlist: Sit Back - Relax, BMG (Be My Guest), Bless This House, Broken Wings, Say You Love Me, Back To The Essence, Another You, What Is It?, Simon & Garfunkel Medley, Amazing Grace, Have I Ever Told You?, Music Is The Key