Cell Block Tango / Female Acapella Cover

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the six merry murderesses of the Cook County jail. I am honored to show you my proudest creation. Welcome to our rendition of the Cell Block Tango- acapella style! Check out the video on YouTube here on my collaborations playlist!

The Six Merry Murderesses:

Liz (Pop) – Anabel Black

Annie (Six) – Eliza Radyko

June (Squish) – Avery Evans

Hunyak (Uh-Uh) – Rachel McCamy

Velma (Cicero) – Autumn Howard

Mona (Lipschitz) – Avery Stenzel

 

Music Arranged By: Rachel McCamy

Cinematographers: Trent Millspaugh and Matt Willoughby

Audio and Visual Editor: Trent Millspaugh

Sound Technician: Randy Bass

Special Thanks to John Hylton, Lucy White, Jill Millspaugh, Mindy Evans, and Musescore

This video is the product of (roughly) two months arranging (thanks Musescore), thirty hours rehearsing (half hour lunch breaks during school and longer rehearsals during the summer), six hours preparation (mics, stands, cables, and a mixing board into the PA), three hours recording (we had to get the perfect take- the girls were definitely tired afterwards), and an exuberant amount of patience from the girls. It’s thanks to their faith in me that any of this came to be.

Though I had composed and arranged before, I hadn’t had much experience in the directing/teaching field, especially doing it all on my own. Some girls learned better by ear; others learned better by music, so I had to teach each girl their parts based on how they best learned individually. The hardest part for the girls (go ahead- ask any one of them) was the multitasking of it all. Attempting hand percussion and singing at the same time is more strenuous work on the brain than you would think. Despite some of them having never accompanied themselves while singing before, the hand percussion all came together with practice.

The composition itself is not a piece of cake either- let alone for high school students- having the altos sing a low D (thanks Autumn and Avery E) the sopranos sing a high B (thanks Avery S) and the mezzos sing some of the most obscure harmonies you could imagine (sorry Anabel and Eliza).

I picked the best people I knew to play these parts, to be not only a solo and ensemble singer, but an actress and percussionist as well. Because of this, a lot of the girls went out of their comfort zones. Some were more actresses than singers; for others it was their first time performing a monologue. Some were solo singers specifically and had to work more on blending in with an ensemble; others had to gain enough confidence to sing a solo for basically the first time. That was the beauty of it all, the fact that one girl’s strength was another girl’s weakness, that they all believed in this piece enough to rely on one another.

My favorite part of the video is at 5:51- basically where I had the most artistic freedom. Melodically, they’re all singing what the orchestral instruments would be playing, but the lyrics are all words (such as “he had it coming”, “how could you tell us that we were wrong”, etc.) It’s the moment all the girls express their individual voices while simultaneously blending so well together.

Needless to say, I’m so proud of them. All of them.

Autumn, your lower vocal range is killer and you made everything sound so full with your essential presence. Thank you for all your patience and hard work. I had to make you Velma, so you were. And you did it beautifully.

Avery E, your vibrato and control thereof is so beautiful- it’s like you’re a bird. You were my parent’s favorite monologue 🙂 also thanks to your parents for letting us rehearse at your house sometimes, and thank you for your laid-back aura yet firm persistence during rehearsals.

Avery S, seriously? A freshmen in high school kicking Soprano butt like that?! You’re insanely talented and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.

Anabel, I knew you’d be perfect for this arrangement the moment I started writing it. You took your monologue to the stars with your acting, and I was glad to got to arrange with a voice as uniquely beautiful as yours.

Eliza, the way you learned everything so fast was just amazing. Not only that, every single comfort zone you leapt for this; whether it be a monologue for the first time or singing full voice for your chorus, you were incredible. Your future is very bright, love.

Trent and Matt, you exceeded my expectations (mostly by dealing with my OCD audio wise). I know you will go farther through your teachings at Belmont University and beyond. Thank you so much for bringing my arrangement to life!

Randy Bass, eh. You know. Blah blah blah you’re my favorite person blah blah blah love you so much blah blah. “You don’t suck real bad now.”

As stated in the video’s YouTube bio“This video is the product of people believing in me. I will never take that for granted.”

Thank you for reading!

-Ray

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