This past week America saw the intense competition between the four remaining groups prior to the season finale of “The Sing-Off” which kicks off tomorrow, Monday, Nov. 28. Pentatonix, Dartmouth Aires, Afro Blue, and Urban Method gave heart-out performances which you could feel whether you were watching it live or in front of your TV. The judges were amazed by each of the performances but gave criticism to the Dartmouth Aires with pitch problems and not sounding as in sync as they usually do. Afro Blue and the Dartmouth Aires were caught in the bottom two and they battled it out. In the end, Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles saved the Dartmouth Aires, who are now in the final three, and Afro Blue was sent home. It was a shocker for everyone but Afro Blue received the decision very positively and were grateful to be able to make it as far as they did. The WhatItDo had the opportunity to see what Danielle Withers of Afro Blue had to say about their overall experience.
TWID: How do you think your overall performances last night went?
Danielle Withers: I thought that our last performances in the competition went very well. I thought that we all did a great job.
TWID: Out of all the performances that Afro Blue did, which was your favorite one to perform?
Danielle Withers: My favorite performance was definitely “Killing Me Softly”. I loved the arrangement. I loved the choreography. I loved everything about it. It was definitive of what Afro Blue is as a group. We are laid back and we are musicians that are very cerebral and we like to do cool things but we still like to have fun and it defined our group in the best way, and to have the judges love it as well. It was really cool to have them love an arrangement that we loved just as much.
TWID: What did Afro Blue do to prepare for the judges’ pick “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke?
Danielle Withers: “A Change Is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) is really an amazing song on so many different levels. Some people say it’s the soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement. Sam Cooke is a really amazing singer and doesn’t really get the recognition that he should receive all across the board. I mean he’s amazing. And so for us to get the opportunity to perform such an amazing song that meant so much to the Civil Rights Movement, and for us to be a class at Howard University, for us to be given the opportunity to sing this song at a nationally televised show in a prime time slot, on a network like NBC, I mean, we were so humbled and happy to be given this opportunity. And so we sat down and we researched what was going on around that time, when the song was written, when the song was released, and what was going on in the world at that time. It was really, umm, if we weren’t sure before, we now understood the depth that was behind that song.
TWID: Shawn Stockman said that he could see your group making records. Could you see Afro Blue in a situation like that in the future?
Danielle Withers: Absolutely. Our beginning was very humble. We were just a class at Howard University. We would just meet for a couple of hours each day. To be a part of “The Sing-Off”, it was an open door that we never expected to be there. What we learned on “The Sing-Off” was that we were a Jazz group that had to learn how to arrange Pop songs. There are no Pop songs in our repertoire so we learned how to combine what it is that we do with what’s popular on the radio – what’s considered to be mainstream these days. So, after the show we definitely feel like we’ve grown and that our versatility is absolutely there. We’re really excited to see where we can go from here and we would love to record an album, tour, and just take advantage of whatever opportunity comes our way after having done the show and learning what we did on the show, and to hear Shawn say that and all the judges. These are judges that we absolutely love and admire and these are musicians that we’ve all looked up to and loved, all of our lives, and who’ve gotten Grammy nominations and Grammy awards. So, you know.these people really know what they are talking about and to have a compliment come from them was very humbling and a big deal to us.
TWID: In your overall “Sing-Off” experience, what was the biggest lesson learned and how will you incorporate that in your future endeavors?
Danielle Withers: I have always lived by the mantra that you can do whatever you want to in your life, like whatever you want to achieve, whatever you want to do, whatever goal you want to achieve, you can make it happen. In doing “The Sing-Off”, we had a very short amount of time to prepare, huge things to prepare, and sometimes we had more than one song to prepare in a week. There was choreography that we had to learn. If you looked at a “Sing-Off” schedule, you would wonder how any of this would be possible. It’s a testament to what we were capable of doing. It truly set the standard. It kind of really brings to mind whatever you want to do, whatever you want to make happen, you can absolutely make it happen. The only thing that’s holding me back is that you gotta go for it.
TWID: How can the fans find Afro Blue online?
Danielle Withers: I love this question because there are so many ways to find us online. On Twitter you can find us @Afrobluedc. I actually have my own twitter which is @afrobluedanielle. You can find us on Facebook too as well. I actually have my own website, DanielleWithers.com.
The smooth sounds of the talented Afro Blue will be missed by all of the fans who tune in every week for “The Sing-Off”. Their humility and passion for singing from the beginning when they first started at school to a prime time television show proves that anything can happen when you focus and have a goal to achieve. Their sophisticated harmony and talented vocals left a unique sound on the stage that will never be forgotten. This season’s talent level was raised because of groups like Afro Blue with their Jazz inspired sound and influences that has America buzzin’ for more from “The Sing-Off”.
-Article Written by: Elizabeth Lavulo
*article photos courtesy of Sony Pictures Television/ Lewis Jacob
*YouTube video courtesy of mrduckbear11