What: Bend A Cappella Festival

When: Naturally 7, 7:30 p.m. Thursday; “Raise Me Up!” featuring Peter Hollens, 7 p.m. Friday; Sing-off 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend; Summit High School, 2855 NW Clearwater Ave., Bend

Cost: Thursday’s Naturally 7 performance is $47 or $63 plus fees; Friday’s “Raise Me Up!” concert is $27 or $37 plus fees; and Saturday’s Sing-off concert is $27

Contact: towertheatre.org or 541-317-0700

Coldplay DID NOT make me cry. It was the video for Naturally 7’s COVER of Coldplay’s “Fix You” that made me cry. There is a difference.

“Yeah, I can’t watch it myself without getting a little teary-eyed,” admitted Roger Thomas, a member of the septet.

Naturally 7 will kick off the fourth annual Bend A Cappella Festival. While the group’s Thursday concert at the Tower Theatre likely won’t feature military dads returning from deployment and reuniting with their families, a la the video, it will feature vocalists with an amazing ability to fool ears: Thomas and his bandmates can replicate the sound of a full band, be it bass, harmonica, guitar, synths, drums or record scratching.

Thomas does most of the rapping and emceeing, and his “instrument” is keyboards, “although we all have to be able to do brass so that we can brass sections, ensembles and stuff,” he said.

The group coined the phrase “vocal play” to describe their voices-as-the-only-instruments sound, Thomas said. Yet, Thomas often runs into people who don’t believe the sounds are made by human voices.

“Every day,” he said with a laugh. During the group’s hundreds of arena shows around the world with Michael Bublé, “It took people up to two to three songs to really even understand or comprehend what was going on. There would be an announcement, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, every sound that you’re about to hear is created by the human voice.’ We’d come on, and we’re doing it and doing it and doing it, people would even be entertained by what’s going on, but” it wasn’t until Naturally 7 played — excuse me, sang — their original tune “Wall of Sound” that people really began to grasp the group’s modus operandi.

“In ‘Wall of Sound,’ one of the guys goes and he turns each guy off one by one, and then he turns them back on one by one,” Thomas said. “It’s not until he turned everybody back on one by one that the audience, you could see, completely get it. Like seven voices, seven things going on at one time, was just too much for them to comprehend and believe that this wall of sound that we’re creating is happening right there in front of them.”

An almost incomprehensible amount of things will be going on with the human voice the next few days at Bend A Cappella Fest. Thirteen vocal groups from as far away as Whittier, California, will compete for cash prizes, as well as attend workshops with the likes of Deke Sharon, often hailed as the “father of contemporary a cappella.”

On Friday night at the Tower, the 11-voice Bend Camerata and University of Oregon’s co-ed group Mind the Gap will perform for the first half of the concert.

“First, the old-school Bend Camerata (performing) with no microphones, and then Mind the Gap with more contemporary a cappella, so that’s a nice contrast,” said festival director Carol Rossio.

After intermission, Eugene’s Peter Hollens takes over the stage. A bona fide YouTube star who displays a similar vocal range as Naturally 7 — with whom he’s covered Sting’s “Shape of My Heart” — Hollens plans to enlist the vocal groups on-hand to film a cover performance of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up.”

“All the singers just stand up where they’re sitting” in the theater,” Rossio explained. “They’re facing forward toward the stage, and then Peter Hollens comes out on the stage … and then he’ll turn around and he’ll be facing upstage. The video cameras will be further upstage. The idea is they’re going to be filming back out into the audience. … Behind him is the Tower Theatre full of singers and the audience. And then Peter’s going to be singing the lead vocal.”

With over 200 registered singers providing background vocals, it should raise the Tower roof.

As of this writing, tickets are available for all three public performances, including Saturday’s Sing-off at Summit High School.

In future years, Rossio hopes to get local groups more involved in the event.

“We’d love to get Bend high schools involved. We’ve got all of these high schools coming from all over the place, from the Willamette Valley and as far away as Cottage Grove, but we don’t have any Bend high schools or groups, except for Bend Camerata. … It would be great to have the hometown represented, as well. Plus, there’s so much talent here.”

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