During the creation of Sing With Esther, our global program for choir directors and singers, we made the decision to enhance the arrangement with the addition of vocal percussion, aka “Beatboxing”. While there is a ton of information (and plenty of examples) on the internet (here’s Wikipedia), we thought that we would highlight the work of OUR beatboxer, the very talented Jon Jon Rivero.
Besides his skills as a professional beatboxer and a cappella singer, he also juggles a career as a professional speaker, filmmaker, martial artist, occupational therapist, and founder of Qi creative. I personally met him years ago – we were both attending a convention for professional speakers.
In a conversation earlier in the year, I was discussing Musical Esther with him… and he was blown away. It seems that the story of Esther (the original one, not the musical!) is his young daughter’s favourite, and he reads the story to her almost every night. When I mentioned the Sing with Esther project, and our need for a vocal percussionist for the reference tracks, he didn’t hesitate: “I’m in!”
Here are two versions of one of the songs, Corner Block. The first version is just vocals, without Jon Jon’s magic. It’s a beautiful song, and you’re able to hear some interesting harmonies, especially in the funk-hip bridge:
The next version is the same song, but this time with vocal percussion. It changes the feeling quite dramatically, and gives it an intensity:
Which one do you prefer? (I’m guessing that Jon Jon’s daughter would prefer the second one.) I really like the dimension that vocal percussion can add. Interestingly, when we were putting together the music, Jon Jon provided two versions. It was amazing the difference in feel that each interpretation gave to the music.
We also added Jon Jon’s vocal percussion to the Finale. What was amazing, when listening to this, is the exceptionally wide range of sounds that he is able to produce. Listen carefully!
Jon Jon can be reached at www.JonJonRivero.com.