The Naked Choir: Christchurch's Voices Co. hopes to translate victory into work
The trophy might have only lasted 30 minutes, but Voices Co's manager Malia Hay hopes winning The Naked Choir will have a more lasting impact for her a cappella students.
The Christchurch-based academy's elite quintet took out the top prize in Sunday night's final of TVNZ's singing competition, impressing the judges with a performance that "mashed-up" three tunes, including Smash Mouth's All Star and Beethoven's 5th Symphony.
Laughing as she recounted how the winners' trophy (the only reward, apart from bragging rights, they received for their victory) broke within half-an-hour of them receiving it, Hay says it just goes to prove that "this style of singing is really just for the love of it – not about the money".
The result though feels like a vindication for Hay and husband Julian's decision to set-up the country first contemporary a capella academy in Christchurch just under 18 months ago. A former ministerial advisor at CERA, Hay says she could see how people were struggling to find creative outlets after the Christchurch earthquakes and the pair thought they could combine their expertise and experience in contemporary music with their love of a capella music to create a unique package.
With Voices Co. offering both open classes and auditioned prep squads, Hay says the opportunity to participate in The Naked Choir was just too good to resist.
However, "we had no idea what it would be like", she admits. "It was very exposing. That's the thing people sometimes forget about a capella – you've got no sound behind you to cover or adjust any tuning issues. And once you add nerves into the mix – it can be so hit or miss. So, for us, we were kind of on edge waiting to see how the show would be produced and then how it would be received, especially since it was advertised as 'a choir competition' and New Zealand has such a strong choral tradition."
The feedback they've had though has been "hugely positive", Hay says. "We've had lots of messages of support."
And that's also translated not only into extra interest in their next round of auditions later this month, but also corporate bookings for their squads' services. "We've had people booking us for Christmas gigs already. One of our goals is to equip those in our academy to be able to go and perform paid work in groups.
"For Mothers' Day we used vocalists from throughout the Academy to perform a capella grams," Hay, a mother-of-two herself, says. "People could book us to go sing to their Mums in their house or at a café. We did a whole bunch of those and it was amazing. We had Mums bursting into tears – it was just beautiful. For us, it was the most exciting thing that has happened since being on the show."