To listen to Signature Sound Acapella is to bless your ears. Their event Art of experimental acapella – Then, Now and Always showcases their immense talents, which have been present since 2012, when Thandisile Nqowana and Sonwabiso Damana formed the group in Makhanda. This particular set primarily focuses on South African music, as the members cover songs by South African musical legends.
The South African artists covered include Zahara and Lira, but with Signature Sound Acapella’s original interpretations and harmonic arrangements. The members repeatedly switch between the role of lead singer, which works to display each individual singer’s talent and keeps the audience engaged through the entire set. The carefully considered setlist means there’s something for everyone across the nine songs performed, which even includes a cover of John Legend’s ‘Ordinary People’.
In the place of applause from a live audience (which viewers at home will feel compelled to give anyway after hearing the performance), the members chat amongst each other in the intervals between songs about their journeys to joining the acapella group and how the pandemic has affected their lives. The feeling evoked by this setup is one of community, which the audience is inevitably drawn into.
Anti-racism is as much of a key component of the performance as South African music, with the members all wearing black clothing and the final song is dedicated to black people ‘occupying space’, with one member unequivocally stating ‘black lives do matter’. This event only provides a glimpse of what is at the core of Signature Sound Acapella, which is a deep seated pride for South African music and the ‘power of black music’ as a whole.
The group’s aim with this performance was to ‘prove we can perform virtually’, and they’ve undoubtedly achieved this. I can only imagine what their harmonies sound like in person.
If you’re a music lover, then there’s one must-see event at Brighton Fringe, and it’s Signature Sound Acapella.
Tickets to stream Signature Sound Acapella: Art of experimental acapella – Then, Now and Always at Brighton Fringe are available now.