By Jonathan Brenneman
Move over, ‘remixed’. Now we’ve got ‘doo-wopified’.
The Doo Wop Project, based in New York and featuring cast members from acclaimed Broadway musicals like Jersey Boys and Motown, perform contemporary songs in classic doo-wop style.
For the uninitiated, doo-wop is a lively and foot stomping genre of rhythm-and-blues singing pioneered by groups of inner city African Americans back in the 1940s, and later popularized by artists like the Belmonts, the Cadillacs, the Drifters, and the Del-Vikings, just to name a few.
A genre known for vocal harmony singing, usually with a tenor lead singer accompanied by a trio or quartet of background singers, doo-wop is also distinguished by its use of nonsense lyrics: in fact, the term ‘doo wop’ itself comes from such lyrics, which are used more as a rhythmic vocal instrument than as words.
While the genre is no longer quite as popular today as it once was, conductor Sean O’Loughlin and his nine-piece band (five vocalists, four instrumentalists) are working to change that in an innovative way: by taking pop hits of other eras including our own, and reworking them into the classic doo-wop formula (‘doo-wopifying’ the songs). This includes hits from the likes of Maroon 5, Jason Mraz, and Michael Jackson.
The end result is a rocking show that can appeal to a multigenerational audience, with catchy earworms for the whole family, grandparents, grandchildren and everyone in-between.
“A few years ago, I shared the stage with the Doo Wop Project for a performance with the San Diego Symphony and was immediately hooked,” said Sean O’Loughlin, Victoria Symphony’s principal pops conductor. “Their combination of vocal excellence, storytelling and musical imagination engaged the audience like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
Come check out the Doo Wop Project, playing two unique shows at Victoria’s Royal Theatre on Saturday May 6th (7:30 p.m.) & Sunday May 7th (2:30 p.m.). Tickets are available at rmts.bc.ca, starting at $29.
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