Afro Blue Band Headlines Strathmore Festival Finale

Stacey Palmer | 7/12/2012, 3:23 p.m.

Three powerhouse vocal groups Cluster, Afro Blue, and The Glue will showcase their talents to conclude the VoCAL Nation festival at Music Center at the Strathmore, Sat., July 14 as part of the second annual gathering. The concert marks the United States premiere of Cluster, following a successful run on X Factor Italy and the return of D.C.'s own Howard University-based Afro Blue Vocal Band. This will also constitute Afro Blue Vocal Band's first local performance since rising to national prominence on NBC's The Sing-Off. The a cappella festival, comprised of performances and workshops for national and international post-collegiate, professional a cappella groups, provides a forum for vocal performers to experience how groups around the world are expanding the genre.

The Afro Blue Vocal Band is a 10-member vocal jazz a cappella ensemble that was formed at Howard University and is comprised mostly of Howard graduates. The ensemble has performed alongside such artists as Smokey Robinson, Geri Allen and Bobby McFerrin. Most recently, the group gained a national fan base as one of 16 ensembles in the country to compete on NBC's The Sing-Off, where they finished in fourth place after an extended presence on the show. Member Danielle Withers said that the time on The Sing-Off allowed them to stretch their skillset, especially on such songs as Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come.

"We were really, really excited about that song. A Change Is Gonna Come is really an amazing song for a lot of different reasons. Some people say it's the soundtrack of the civil rights movement. With Afro-Blue coming from Howard University, a historically Black college, we felt like it was very humbling and amazing to have been given the opportunity to sing a song that meant so much to the civil rights movement and sing it on a nationally televised show in a primetime slot on NBC," Withers said.

Their musical style, which is based in jazz, has lent itself to a signature sound that incorporates other genres including R&B, gospel, pop, hip-hop, and funk. Whether dishing out a jazz standard in their dazzlingly reminiscent fashion or putting a flavorful spin on a modern hit, ABVB provides quality music through its adventurous arrangements with charisma and charm to spare. Though newly formed, their polish and style is comparable to that of a group seasoned professionals.

The Strathmore is an established arts presenter and cultural destination that nurtures art, artists and community through creative and diverse programming of the highest quality, and is home to the Music Center at Strathmore, a 1,976-seat concert hall and education complex. For additional information on ABVB visit their website at www.afrobluevb.com

For more information on the VoCAL Nation festival or to purchase tickets, call (301) 581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org