After a very depressing afternoon re-watching all 4 hours of Adam Curtis's Century of the Self, which is an educational though masochistic way to pass the time, I stumbled on the video below.
It's a video of the a cappella group Raniere founded a few years ago. (What won't these gurus think of next? Why can't they just stick to pretending to teach yoga, acting, and maybe martial arts?)
Once I got through laughing, this video really angered me. First, I love a cappella music and wish it were exempt from abuse by narcissistic wannabes. (But then, I guess, nothing is.)
Second, I object to the exploitation of the mind-fucked in the service of the deluded. There's not a whole lot of distance between the people on this stage and the people who died in James Ray's fake sweat lodge. It's appalling.
Here's how Raniere describes the formation of his singing group:
In early 2007, Keith Raniere, founder of A Cappella Innovations, reacquainted himself with a cappella through a serendipitous encounter. An online video of a college a cappella group became the conduit of the art’s very essence, inspiring him to call together six of his musical friends and create the a cappella group, Simply Human.
Simply Human, under Keith’s innovative tutelage, enjoyed widespread acceptance and success in its community. The group, of course, was not unlike any other group of people: six individuals from all walks of life, each bringing their own virtues and struggles to a dynamic equation. What they found, however, despite any difference of interest or opinion, was uniting through one of the most elemental human connections: music expressed through the human voice.
The joy and growth manifested by Simply Human’s members—Siobahn Hotaling, Farouk Rojas, Sarah Peters, Mike Baker, Kathy Ethier and Ed Kinum—inspired the creation of four other a cappella groups in its locality. Witnessing these events unfolding intensified a question, a seedling already developing in Keith’s mind.
There are an estimated 15,000 college a cappella groups throughout the country. They spring up all over the place—people spontaneously getting together to sing for the joy of singing, expressing authentically through the human instrument… I think that’s wonderful! Imagine if this flourished throughout corporate America, government and society!
Think of a group of people coming together to sing—they may not necessarily share a lot in common outside of singing, they may not even spend time together outside of singing, but they seem to have a general respect for each other. We’ve all read accounts of soldiers suspending war to honor the human spirit singing a Christmas carol, we’ve heard of the most diverse, sometimes oppositional voices uniting in song—regardless of where or how we lift our voices, when we sing there’s a certain bond, a community—a humanity that is built.
I think the nature of what it means to sing with others will change the way the world is—a cappella is just one of those things.
Our organization is born of this vision—a vision recognizing the differences and commonalities of being human; a vision finding a harmonious, common ground through which we can express some of our most noble qua
Fucking spare me. This is some of the most pretentious rot I've seen in a while, and I spend a lot of my time reading material written by cult leaders!
What distresses me about Simply Human is that it's not what it purports to be. I'm all for amateurs coming together to sing, and even when they can barely carry a tune, the joy of music-making always comes through.
I am very much against some ego-inflated nut using people to further his vision of the world, and that's what I see here.
I'm going to avoid all of the obvious comments and limit myself to remarking that, even though the lead singer has a good voice, this assemblage of the ungainly, the unmusical, and the unrhthymic is not exactly the second coming of the Supremes and the Temptations singing I'm Gonna Make You Love Me. And that the background singers remind me of a cluster of zombies from Night of the Living Dead.
Link to scary video of Raniere's victims, manifesting their exploitation for all to see. Because if they weren't mind-fucked, they'd be in the audience where they belong:
Link to the way it's supposed to sound:
Link to amateur a cappella singers who really are enjoying what they're doing (a must see!):
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/2010 02:35PM by Christa.