Looking for beautiful, live a cappella performances
May 16, 2019 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by this Bon Iver video, I'm looking for videos of live a cappella performances, with an emphasis on beautiful melodies and harmonies in contemporary songs.

I would also be okay with minimal instrumental backup a la a Tiny Desk concert or Blogotheque Take Away show. I'm explicitly not looking for typical "rockappella" or "Pitch Perfect" type of performances or recordings/audio.

Links to specific performances are preferred. Thanks!

PS: I have already seen these previouslies (1//2//3), but none of them quite fit the bill (mostly recordings or outdated links).
posted by too bad you're not me to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
It's a minimal instrument link rather than proper a cappella, but Dawes does a great stripped-down version of How Far We've Come. (Same-but-different versions here and here)
posted by AgentRocket at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2019

Untrust Us

I'm assuming that vocal choruses like Scala and Young@Heart are not what you're looking for?
posted by Candleman at 11:51 AM on May 16, 2019

Sara Bareilles has roots in a cappella. You might like this performance with Ben Folds and Caroline Shaw (orchestra comes in 2/3 of the way through). Gives me goosebumps.
posted by yawper at 12:29 PM on May 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

This beautiful, guitar-only First Aid Kit cover of Fleet Foxes launched their career!
posted by quiet coyote at 1:15 PM on May 16, 2019

You may have found this already, but the Yeasayer A Take Away transit segment is a capella and a favorite performance of Redcave of mine.

Their One To One segments as well, especially the Damien Rice one.

It has some instruments, but I like the First Aid Kit cover of You Want It Darker.
posted by Candleman at 1:20 PM on May 16, 2019

This one always moves me almost to tears. Not very contemporary any more (except for old farts like me).
posted by aqsakal at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far! Digging Untrust Us and the Damien Rice links. Just to direct any additional responses:

+ @Candleman - not especially interested in choirs/chorsus
+ Also not interested in people singing operatically (not even sure if this is the right term?), as in the video from aqsakal's link

Otherwise, keep 'em coming!
posted by too bad you're not me at 1:45 PM on May 16, 2019

evinha & trio esperança - aquarela do brasil
posted by 20 year lurk at 2:08 PM on May 16, 2019

If you get outside of English and/contemporary:

Balkan village music, highly stylized/modernized:

I don't know anything about what this Greek song is, but it's such a nice arrangement with a bunch of the Greek vocal ornamentations:

This is a stunning performance (and an incredible video) of one of the psalms by a Georgian congregation led by a Syrian Christian Orthodox priest- I think it's misidentified here but I can't remember which one it actually is. I think I saw somewhere on the Internet that it's Psalm 51 and not 53:

posted by twoplussix at 3:03 PM on May 16, 2019

Imogen Heap with London Contemporary Voices

Árstíðir are singing an old song but it's close enough to the style that I figured it was worth mentioning.
posted by Candleman at 3:13 PM on May 16, 2019

Well, I was going to recommend The Staves, but I see they're right there in the video you linked, so I'll just say you should explore their catalog. Three voices, usually accompanied only by one guitar or one piano.
posted by bricoleur at 3:57 PM on May 16, 2019

The Wailin' Jennys--The Parting Glass (Live)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:18 AM on May 17, 2019

I went to see The Unthanks earlier this week - they might fit your bill. Three women doing vocal harmonies on English and Irish folk songs - esp. Northumbrian music. Sometimes with minimal accompaniment, as here, but they were purely a cappella when I saw them on Tuesday.
posted by rd45 at 1:39 AM on May 17, 2019

A few from Latin America:
La Colmena's cover of Lila Downs' "Zapata se queda"
Sexto Sentido's funky harmonized version of a traditional song for Yoruba deity Elegguá (hang on for at least a minute for harmonies to kick in)
Aymama "Mal das"
Aca Seca Trio: "Panambí Jovhé," "Canto en la rama"
posted by dr. boludo at 12:07 PM on May 17, 2019

Joseph - Wind
posted by fourpotatoes at 4:45 AM on May 18, 2019

Morgan Sorne
posted by ljshapiro at 2:28 PM on May 21, 2019

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