naturally-7

When you hear something bold, something sharp and memorable, it becomes an earworm. When you hear it everywhere, it becomes synonymous with whatever item it is paired with. That brings us to Cherrios – and how Naturally 7 has made every Cherrios commercial in my life a lot more memorable.

Cheerios. Not in the pseudo-British accents (where three of the members hail from), but the commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios. Naturally 7 has made their way into your and my subconscious without forceful entry by way of General Mills. Before you could even write them off as just some random group on a cereal commercial, realize that Naturally 7 is dope. Realize that they’re a group my own mother screamed to me about. They even convinced the Honey Bee himself to get in on some of the vocal action with an ad-lib to add to “Honey of an O” in which Naturally 7 created specifically for the commercial.

Consisting of 7 members (brothers Roger and Warren Thomas; Roderick Eldridge; Kelvin “Kelz” Mitchell; Dwight Stewart; Garfield Buckley; and Ricky Lee Cort), Naturally 7 take what you would normally refer to as a cappella to a place where Phoenixes are created and calls it “Vocal Play”: singing AS instruments and becoming the instrument by voice.

Although their discography dates back to 2000, Naturally 7 gained international exposure in 2007 when a video surfaced of them vocally hijacking a subway car in Paris as they held the passengers by ear and allow their wall of sound the fill the car. Their impromptu performance of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” not only lead to them receiving a standing ovation from the passengers on the train and five million plus views of the video, but they were met with the same standing ovation during three world tours while opening for Michael Bublé followed by a stint as an opening act for Coldplay.

Naturally 7 appeared on Quincy Jones’ 2010 release titled “Q: Soul Bossa Nostra” where they revamped the title track “Soul Bossa Nostra” with the accompaniment of Ludacris giving the Austin Powers theme song an organic vocal twist. Not too bad for some random group on a cereal commercial huh?

Their latest release on Hidden Beach Recordings delivers a breath of fresh air by cross blending genres of music vocally only. Available in a deluxe edition, Hidden In Plain Sight is a 19-track album full of organic originality. Each song has a lyrically uplifting theme; individual motivational pieces for any person in need while drawing you closer to the speaker adding to the intrigue of there being no actual instruments being played just heard. Sure, there are a few samples, not in the Puff Daddy “take that, take that” kind of way, but in the Doug E. Fresh/Rahzel meets Take 6 kind of way allowing only their voices to create and recreate the tracks generating aural illusions.

See, the way Naturally 7 is set up, they are the first in the world licensed to sample the rock band Queen. That’s Freddie Mercury, “Another One Bites The Dust”, “We Are The Champions”, you-tried-your-hardest-but-failed-singing-“Bohemian Rhapsody”-at-karaoke, Queen. Using the harmonies already established by the legendary rock band, they sampled the most memorable vocal arrangement of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, laid their essence on it and titled it simply, “Galileo”. Mercury would be proud. “Mahalia” pairs the haunting vocals of Mahalia Jackson from her most renown piece of work, “Sooner Will Be Done”, with the raw, raspy, old soul vocals of Garfield and Dwight, we are taken on a journey as the lead vocalists and Jackson gives testimony to how talented they are. By only sampling her vocals, Naturally 7 melodically surround her matching her every vocal movement with theirs. But the music doesn’t stop there. With tracks like “Moments (I’ve Been Loved)” that sample from the Art of Noise classic slow jam, “Moments (In Love)”, “Let It Go” that infuses their sound around undertones of Wham! classic “Everything She Wants”, and their rendition of Cold Play’s “Fix You”, Hidden in Plain Sight provides a break in today’s overly synthesized sound with an appealing uniqueness.

To find the “right” or “proper” words to accurately describe how talented they are is a feat in and of its self. There are none. Just sound. Just feeling. Just a curiosity that leaves one in awe when the knowing that there are no instruments, but one swears they can hear a piano. Yeah. It isn’t one. Just 7 guys who naturally know how to make man made music. Literally.

Regina Gordon is a writer who understands the power of her pen. Follow her on Twitter.