Fri, Nov 12, 2004 - Page 14 News List

The Real Group, the real thing

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Get real with The Real Group, who will be performing at In Kaohsiung tomorrow.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS

In a world awash with lip-syncing songsters, it's nice to know there are real groups still out there. One such Swedish ensemble consider themselves so genuine, they made it their name. The Real Group will be in Kaohsiung and Taipei this weekend for an entertaining dose of reality.

Pop star Ashley Simpson's lip-synched serenade for a New York audience last week might have gone overlooked if it weren't for the fact that she was on Saturday Night Live.

After discovering their most famous "live" show isn't live at all, Americans learned that all kinds of artists fake it. Before the bubble burst, we thought Britney Spears never ran out of breath in concert because she was in such great shape. Madonna nailed her songs every time, we thought, because she was such a disciplined performer.

Phooey. Fakes. Every one of them.

It would be hard to imagine The Real Group lip-synching a performance. But for that matter, it would be hard to imagine Ashley Simpson singing a

cappella.

The Real Group first sang together in 1984 as classmates at the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm. In the two decades since, they've performed over 1,200 concerts, sold 300,000 recordings and been voted the best a cappella group in the world by the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA).

But if you hear their renditions of jazz standards like Flight of the Foo Birds or Bill Evans Waltz for Debbie you might forget that The Real Group is really an a cappella outfit. The males, Anders Edenroth, Peder Karlsson and Anders Jalkeus often use their voices to percussive effect, while Katarina Stenstrom and Margareta Jalkeus provide the alto and soprano.

They're also joined together as a more traditional quintet to accompany symphony orchestras, big bands and fellow musicians such as Bobby McFerrin, Van Morrison, George Martin and world-famous whistler, Toots Thielemans.

The Real Group's first recording was for the Swedish market and contained songs sung in Swedish. It wasn't until 1994 that their a cappella prowess reached a wider audience, as is evident by the number of awards they began winning at that time, starting with a string of CASA honors: best contemporary cover of Abba's Dancing Queen and best jazz song for Flight of the Foo Birds.

In l996, Margareta Jalkeus was named best Female Vocalist at the CASA awards. And l997 was the year of The Real Group, as far as CASA was concerned. They won best live album of the year, best original pop song and best jazz song. And Margareta won best female vocalist for the second year in a row. In 1998, they won yet another award for best holiday album, a category with some surprisingly stiff competition for a cappella groups.

Their fans in the US are likely most familiar with The Real Group from their recording done for the US market, Unreal, which was essentially a re-release of previous material. The European market saw something similar in the form of Get Real. The group comes to Taiwan with its most recent release, Julen en Her.

Performance notes:

What: The Real Group

When and Where: In Kaohsiung tomorrow at Wenzao Ursuline College of Language's Huayu Auditorium. On Sunday and Monday, they will perform at the National Concert Hall in Taipei.

Time: All show times are at 7:30pm.

Price: Tickets cost between NT$300 and NT$1,500 and can be purchased online at http://www.artsticket.com.tw or by calling (02) 3393-9888 the Taipei Philharmonic at (02) 2773 3691, or reserve your seat through the their Web site at http://www.tpf.org.tw.

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