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Joe Oliva

Joe Oliva's RARB Bio

My first introduction to music came as a small child in the form of acoustic guitar and electric bass guitar lessons, but I won't get into that right now. I'll stick to the a cappella story.

In 1989, I started singing in my high school's contemporary choir at the encouragement of a few friends. The choir was desperately in search of men since the females outnumbered the males 5 to 1.

The choir's influence got me listening a little closer groups like The Nylons as well as some harmony groups from decades ago like The Temptations, which led to many impromptu jam sessions.

From these jam sessions a few of us formed a quintet, The Humdingers. We put a doo-wop repertoire together and started gigging around our home province of Ontario. We all attended the University of Western Ontario and although I was an Economics major, I took private voice lessons at the Faculty of Music on campus.

In 1992, The Humdingers broke up but three of us decided to continue singing a cappella. We scoured the area for two new members and formed The Essentials.

The Essentials has met with some success, but we are always looking to do better. I have taken an interest in all forms of a cappella, including vocal jazz, gospel, contemporary vocal pop, doo-wop and I have even attended some barbershop seminars.

I am also learning a lot more about the business side of the entertainment industry and keep busy with some other production projects in the studios. This year for example, I was on the advisory selection committee for "Producer of the Year" and "Recording Engineer of the Year" for the Juno Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys).

As soon as I read about RARB, I thought it was an excellent idea: providing a way for people (experienced in a cappella) to comment on recording projects. Too often, a cappella groups at all levels have to endure comments from people who really don't understand what the group is trying to accomplish. As an a cappella singer myself, I couldn't possibly count the number of times I've heard someone say after a gig, "that was cool, but why don't you guys add instruments?"

Some people just don't appreciate the beauty of the human voice, I guess.

I welcome all questions or spontaneous conversations regarding the a cappella scene or the music industry in general. If you are wondering why I gave a song or an album a particularly low score (or a particularly high score!) I welcome those types of questions as well. Audios!!

Since leaving RARB, Joe's singing career has continued. Although The Essentials disbanded in 2011 after creating 5 full-length records, in 2012 he co-founded Eh440 which will release their debut CD in 2014.

Reviews by Joe Oliva

6 total reviews including 6 reviews from before May 1998, which predate our database and are not listed here.

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