Naturally 7 hit all the high notes in style
Naturally 7 have toured the world three times since winning an a capella competition in New York in 1999. During those 21 years they have refined and honed their unique vocal skills to give a mesmerising blend of song and instrumental “vocal play”. They are both masters and interpreters of the great legacies of gospel, jazz and African music.
The group kicked off the 45th Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts last Friday. Massassi Maxwell-Smith, winner of the 2019 On Stage Competition, was the opening act.
She sang two original songs. Mellow Vibes, a slow ballad with a laid-back and well-engineered double vocal track which showed off her vocal range, was followed by Wave Runner, an upbeat reggae number with an intriguing chorus line: “Catch me if you can, I’m coasting.”
She ended with My Mind, another ballad with arpeggiated acoustic guitar reminiscent of Katie Melua. Massassi’s talent continues to grow and I think we’ll be hearing lots more from her in the coming years.
But the highlight of the night was, of course, Naturally 7.
They explored the concept of a “wall of sound” which included multiple statements on the theme of walls. First up was an extended reinvention of the great spiritual Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho, complete with trumpets and bass riffs leading to the message “let’s break these walls down tonight”.
It was followed by their original and politically meaningful Wall of Sound, with groupings of guitar, trumpets and trombone. The group then segued into a performance of The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which launched a brilliant, extended voice-generated, Hendrix-style guitar riff by Rod Eldridge, taking the song to a new level of emotional intensity and bringing the audience to its feet.
Having spent so much time on the road, explained Naturally 7 co-founder Roger Thomas, it is always a great relief to return home. Accordingly William Arms Fisher’s Goin’ Home, sung to the melody of Dvorak’s 1893 New World Symphony, formed the emotional centre of the concert. It was followed by a medley of modern hip-hop, reggae and gospel including Bob Marley’s One Love. With all the audience joining the dance, the 45th Bermuda Festival was off to a great start.
•Naturally 7 performed at the Fairmont Southampton on Friday and Saturday as part of the 45th Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts
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