Disney enters a cappella world with local assist
Fairmont teacher advising company on its move into genre.
Brody McDonald
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By Don Thrasher
Contributing Writer
ENTERTAINMENT

Fairmont High School’s music department has a new relationship with the Disney Company. The most visible aspect is the school’s group, Eleventh Hour, opening for the new Disney act DCappella at Taft Theatre in Cincinnati on March 1.

However, the behind the scenes news is equally exciting with teacher Brody McDonald, one of the nation’s leading figures in modern a cappella, advising the Disney Company on building student engagement for their move into the genre.


“Disney is always trying to find new ways to get Disney on the minds of new demographics and new people,” said McDonald, the author of the 2012 book, “A Cappella Pop: A Complete Guild to Contemporary A Cappella.” “There were so many independent YouTubers making a cappella Disney medleys that ‘A cappella Disney’ became this enormously searched term. It was other people doing stuff with their material and they realized they should be doing that, too.”

To form DCappella, Disney enlisted Deke Sharon, who has been instrumental in taking a cappella music to the mainstream.

“Disney had messed around with a cappella a little bit, but it never got anywhere,” McDonald said. “Once Deke got involved things really happened because he brings a culture that makes it a lot easier. People who are a cappella specialists show up for these auditions and, of course, Deke writes all the music and he’s great at that. He’s an essential part of it.

“DCappella’s album came out in November and the first national tour has launched,” McDonald continued. “They’ve done a lot of special corporate gigs and released a few videos. It seems to be off and running.”

Sharon and McDonald co-created Camp A Cappella, an annual summer music program at Wright State University. This relationship led to the local teacher’s involvement with Disney.

“Deke told them they should talk to me about how to get some outreach into the schools,” McDonald said. “They want to get young, academic singers out to these concerts. I helped Disney craft their outreach plan.

“They’re also publishing a DCappella songbook people can purchase,” McDonald continued. “Schools all across America are going to buy this songbook because choir directors love Disney and because a cappella is a big trend. That’s going to carry the a cappella torch forward.”

McDonald believes it’s a game changer for a cappella music.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than Disney building a professional group,” he said. “Even if they’re not the biggest fan, everybody knows Disney but most people are big Disney fans. This could potentially elevate a cappella to its biggest platform ever.”

Contact this contributing writer at donaldthrasherl00@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

What: DCappella, with Fairmont High School’s Eleventh Hour as the opening act

When: 8 p.m. Friday, March 1

Where: Taft Theatre, 317 E. 5th St., Cincinnati

Cost: $26.50-$129 at www.ticketmaster.com

More info: https://dcappellalive.com/