“Music is a very psychological art form and you really get to explore the human condition and explore what it means to be alive and to be human and to feel in connection with other people,” says Chesney Snow. “One of the things that makes Vocalosity — and really a capella as a whole — so extraordinary is that it’s all about discovering your connections with someone else … you’re always back-up to somebody else. The collaborative process is something that makes it rather unique.”

Snow is a New York City-based performer who will be returning to his native Wisconsin as one of the stars of Vocalosity … The Aca-Perfect Concert Experience, the all-new live concert event that features an all-star ensemble of diverse young vocalists singing some of today’s chart-topping hits at the Overture Center in downtown Madison on Jan. 28-29.

“It really touches a bit of everything and these performers are some of the best I’ve ever worked with … and I’ve worked with a lot,” Snow tells Madison365 in an interview from lower Manhattan in New York City. “This would be something that could be transformative for anyone who sees it.”

The 12 powerhouse vocalists that comprise the all-star a cappella group along with Snow are Matthew Bryan Feld, James C. Jones, Hannah Juliano, Kelli Koloszar, Cheeyang Ng, Gerianne Pérez, Nattalyee Randall, Tracy L.J. Robertson, Bryant Vance, Nicole Weiss and Amy Whitcomb.

“We are really incredible creatures in that a lot of times we are told what we can’t do until it starts to take over and we stop believing in the power of our own voice,” Snow says. “A lot of people think they can’t sing. But, everybody can sing. What we want to do is to wake that up in people. There’s something very powerful about hearing your own voice.

“I think that’s one of the reasons why karaoke is so popular in the bars. There’s a rush. There’s a thrill. There’s a power in hearing your own voice,” he adds. “Specifically, in a capella. Vocalosity is not just, ‘let’s just sit in our seats and listen to these people sing.’ It’s really about exploring the human voice in a way to connect individuals, to connect our stories … to connect our passions, our dreams, our failures, and our triumphs.”

Vocalosity covers just about everything — from 10th century Gregorian chant and classical choral to barber shop quartet and bouncing doo-wop all the way to an exploration of the current sound of a cappella with music from The Beatles, Bruno Mars and more. All without instrumentation other than the human voice.

Vocalosity takes music through the centuries all the way up to modern day,” Snow says. “It’s all a capella so it only uses the human voice. It’s really at its core about discovering the power of music in your life.”

Vocalosity is from the creative mind of a cappella guru Deke Sharon, one of the leaders and promoters of the contemporary a cappella community and a pioneer of the contemporary a cappella style. Sharon began performing professionally at the age of 8 and has shared the stage with a diverse group of performers, from Pavarotti to Run DMC.

“We’re doing a lot of shows. Thirty-one cities in some really great towns — most of them East of the Mississippi [River],” Snow says. “I love the traveling. Most of my life has been rather transient. It’s one of the great perks about being an artist. It’s easy to point out the challenges that artists have, but the fact that you get to see the world and travel really makes up for that in many ways. Most people don’t get to spend four or five weeks in the south of France.”

Wisconsin roots

Snow was a freshman in high school when he and his mother moved to Platteville, a little city in southwest Wisconsin. A year later, Snow would become mesmerized by a performance of “As You Like It” at a Shakespeare festival in Spring Green, Wis. There was no looking back to a career in performance from there.

“I’m super-thrilled to be back in Wisconsin. I have a lot of friends and relatives who are coming to the show. They were trying to all surprise me there, but somebody let the cat out of the bag,” Snow laughs. “There’s a lot of friends and family that I haven’t seen in a while and I’m very excited to see that.”

Snow has evolved into a truly multi-talented artist as a stage actor, musician, songwriter, and beatboxer.
“I get different things from various disciplines,” Snow says. “Theater and storytelling will probably always reign supreme for me in terms of satisfaction. Beatboxing is a skill that I feel a spiritual connection to. It’s hard for me to say which one is better. I get different things from each one.”

Snow was the executive director of “American Beatboxer,” an award-winning feature documentary film about the 1st American Beatbox Championships. Snow has also led workshops and explorations into the art, history, and craft of beatboxing and co-founded the World Beatboxing Association in 2009.

“There was really a shift where the beatboxers needed a platform so we began to create those as a community,” Snow says. “We set about to contribute to the cohesion of the international beatboxing community and to focus on producing events around North American and really around the world.

“I really wanted to give back to the art form because the art form had given me an opportunity to really see the world,” he adds. “I really wanted to make certain that young people had that platform and also preserve the history of it. I really wanted to make sure that it doesn’t just fade away. I didn’t want people to think of it as just some sort of parlor trick. It’s definitely a very skilled and technical art form.”

Snow has loved beatboxing since he first heard original beatboxing in hip-hop culture.

“As a small child I was living in Mississippi and Chicago and going back and forth from there before my mom brought us to Wisconsin,” Snow remembers. “I had always heard beatboxing through the hip hop culture and I always did it as a child. I’ve always had a creative spirit. But it wasn’t until I moved to New York City to pursue my life as a performer that I began to really put everything together – whether it was writing spoken word, acting in plays, or doing beatboxing.

“Beatboxing is becoming more and more popular as people begin to see more a capella and see artists such as [singer, beatboxer, actor, and comedian]Reggie Watts,” Snow adds. “It’s becoming part of the pop culture vernacular. But if you study it, it’s always been there. I’m really honored to be a part of the culture because it does really have a rich legacy.”

Snow enjoys bringing his amazing beatboxing skills to Vocalosity.

Vocalosity is just fun. There’s something unique about a capella, especially because we live in a world that is almost completely digital. There’s something sacred about going back to realizing the potential of the human when you strip everything away and you just have human voice,” Snow says. “To hear that in its glory … to hear it soar, to hear its pain, to hear its triumph … I think that’s something sacred. And we do it in a way that is a hilarious ride and a great time.”