Barely two weeks after the 2nd Philippine Popular Music Festival songwriting competition crowned its champions on July 20, the indefatigable composer Ryan Cayabyab is again searching for new music talents—this time, a cappella singing ensembles.
Through Akapela Open, Cayabyab hopes to promote appreciation for the otherwise underrated art of vocal harmonizing, as well as to build a community of contemporary a cappella singers.
“We don’t see a lot of a cappella singers or groups in mainstream music. We want to provide them with a venue,” Cayabyab told the Inquirer recently. “One of our goals is to tour good a cappella singers around the country, and hopefully pique the interest of more people.”
Cayabyab pointed out that aside from groups such as Tux, The CompanY, The Opera and Akafellas, not a lot of singers dare try performing a cappella (without musical accompaniment), because it’s difficult and requires immense technical skill and talent.
He explained: “The members of the group should have genuine musicality. They should hit the right notes and have good rhythm. The delivery or choreography is just as important. And beyond the singing, a cappella is also a test of the artists’ creativity in coming up with good song arrangements.”
Cayabyab’s fascination with the genre has spanned over three decades. He said he had always been a big fan of pop- and jazz-flavored a cappella pieces—so much so that, in the early 1980s, he used up his savings to produce his first a cappella album aptly titled “One.”
“I am the original a cappella boy!” he said, laughing. “I sang, arranged and produced all the songs in that album, even the female voices! It’s really one of my passions; the album was a gift for myself… You could say that it’s a collector’s item now.”
After “One,” Cayabyab released two more a cappella albums, “One Christmas” in 1991, and “One More” in 2001. “I wanted to release one every 10 years, but I stopped in 2011 because I couldn’t sing anymore,” he said.
Aside from his love for the genre, Cayabyab said the popularity of TV shows like “The Sing Off” and “Glee,” as well as the movie “Pitch Perfect,” inspired him to push through with the project he had long been planning.
“I’ve always wanted to spearhead a competition like Akapela Open. But, admittedly, we couldn’t find partners for the project. I’m grateful that the PLDT Smart Foundation, and the One Meralco Foundation are helping us with this,” Cayabyab said.
The competition is open to both amateur and professional singing groups with a minimum of three and maximum of 12 members, who are 18 years old and above. The groups may be all-female, all-male, or mixed voices.
Applications and the first round of auditions will be done via the competition’s official website (www.akapela-
open.com). Groups are requested to upload a video of themselves performing original pop, R&B, jazz, hip-hop, rock, folk a cappella arrangements. The grand prize winner will receive P250,000.
Deadline for submissions is Sept. 7.