From the big stage to the small screen
Barbershop group Embellished was formed as a way of reuniting old competitors.
But less than two years on, it’s not each other they are competing against.
The group’s all-female cast members are making their way to the small screen, featuring on TVZN 1’s new show The Naked Choir.
Embellished has made it in to the show’s final eight groups after auditioning with an a cappella rendition of End Of Time by Beyonce.
Group member and co-founder Brenda Leasi says the spotlight of television cameras proved a difficult one. ‘‘It is very different, none of us had been on TV, let alone reality TV,’’ she says. ‘‘It was very nerve-wracking.’’
The group was founded with the idea to reunite singers she competed against in the Young Singers In Harmony programme.
‘‘I approached head of department for music at Tawa College Marilyn Baigent and David Brooks [of Aotea College] about the idea,’’ Leasi says.
‘‘They were both really supportive, so I put the feelers out there to see which girls were out there who would want to take part.’’
Primarily formed as a barbershop group, Embellished’s transition to a cappella proved a challenge. ‘‘It was quite different … In barbershop, we only have our four parts,’’ Leasi says.
‘‘A capella adds a whole other element in the form of percussion, beat boxing, rhythm and things like that.’’
As well as starrring on TV, Embellished also performed at last year’s Pan Pacific Harmony Festival, taking out the top prize.
Leasi says the group owes a lot of its success to the tutelage of musical director David Brooks.
‘‘He is an expert in what he does… His experience has really helped us. He is a really good barbershop teacher and a very good vocal coach.’’
As well as directing the group, the Aotea College music teacher spends the rest of his spare time as the co-director of Wellington City Chorus.
‘‘When you work with people for a while you want to see the dream continue,’’ Brooks says.
His work for Embellished is unpaid, and Brooks explains that he enjoys the watching the group grow. ‘‘It is always interesting trying something different… it was their first experience with the more a cappella styles.’’
Brooks says they were well prepared for the show, despite their lack of a cappella experience.
‘‘Barbershop is the martial arts of the a cappella world, we knew [the show] would involve barbershop.
‘‘Embellished is designed so that the girls aged 18-25 can keep singing. Let’s keep them singing.’’
Barbershop group Embellished will feature on TVNZ’s new reality show, The Naked Choir.