McGraw, Hill bring Soul2Soul Tour to Knoxville

*** Due to technical issues, this story from Sept. 15, 2017 was not published until Sept. 21, 2017***

– TNJN Editorial Staff

For the first time in ten years, country music power couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill perform together on tour taking the stage in over 60 cities including a stop in Knoxville Sept. 14, 2017 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Thursday night’s performance filled the arena with dynamic lights, music and affectionate displays from the husband and wife duo. This is the third “Soul2Soul” tour for the couple following two record-breaking tours in 2000 and 2006-2007.

Singer Eric Paslay opened the show with a selection of his hit songs. He performed “Song about a Girl,” “She Don’t Love You” and  “Friday Night.” His guitarist played “Rocky Top” during one of his songs to engage the many Tennessee fans in the crowd.

McGraw and Hill spilt the show into parts: duets and solos. They started the show off by sharing the stage. They performed a new song, “Break First” ending in a staredown between the married couple. Hill won the contest, but she playfully insisted McGraw won. Small interactions like this contest occurred between songs for the duration of the show.

Before McGraw left the stage for Hill’s solo act, he began the LSU chant met with loud “boos” from Tennessee Vol fans. Hill and McGraw teased the crowd by suggesting they would sing “Rocky Top.”

Hill started her solo set by dedicating a song to the ladies in the audience, both “young and older.”

“It’s not gonna be easy, but you’re gonna do it,” Hill said.

Hill continued her set with hit songs like “This Kiss,” “Wild One” and “Piece Of My Heart.” Hill constantly interacted with the crowd blowing kisses to everyone and trying to touch hands with as many fans as possible.

“Y’all are so friendly, I just can’t stand it,” Hill said.

In transition to her husband’s solo set, Hill sat and played the guitar while her husband sang.

McGraw performed hit songs like “Shotgun Rider” and “Live Like You Were Dying.” He held the microphone out towards the crowd who sang the chorus. McGraw looked pleased and chuckled before continuing the next verse. He also performed “How Forever Feels,” “Where the Green Grass Grows” and “Humble and Kind.”

Hill rejoined her husband on stage to sing “Speak To A Girl.” Fans believed the show to be over after the couple sang “It’s Your Love” with a montage of their family photos in the background. After a few moments, Hill walked through the crowd singing “Mississippi Girl” and took pictures and gave hugs to fans. McGraw followed singing “Something Like That”  as he walked through the crowd.

The couple came back to the stage as they were elevated through fog sitting face-to-face to end the show with “I Need You” and a kiss.

The “Soul2Soul” tour continues tonight in Greenville, South Carolina.

Featured Photo by Chelsea Babin

Edited by Lexie Little

Pentatonix’s Avi Kaplan hosts UT a cappella workshop

Students from around the region got the chance to work with a  Grammy-winning artist on Saturday, Jan. 28 in Cox Auditorium on the University of Tennessee campus.

Avi Kaplan, vocal bass for a cappella group Pentatonix, headlined the second annual Contemporary A Cappella Workshop hosted by the UT School of Music.

Work began Friday with rehearsals for UT’s three a cappella ensembles: VOLume, UT Singers and ReVOLution. Kaplan listened to and critiqued their sets. He also chose one song to perform with each group on Saturday.

VOLume performs featuring soloist Dalton Mitchell.
VOLume performs featuring soloist Dalton Mitchell.

“He speaks great knowledge and advice,” VOLume tenor Dalton Mitchell said. “It’s great for us to soak that in. He’s just so down to earth.”

Registration began just before 9 a.m. Saturday. High school students filed in and warmed up with a few UT Singers and Interim Associate Director of Choral Activities Jaclyn Johnson.

Dr. Jaclyn Johnson and Avi Kaplan
Dr. Jaclyn Johnson and Avi Kaplan

Johnson coordinated Kaplan’s visit. The two are friends and alumni of Mt. San Antonio College in California.

All female group ReVOLution performed first with Kaplan joining them for “Cheap Thrills.” Kaplan subsequently lent his talents to VOLume and UT Singers. Between performances, Kaplan held question and answer sessions.

Some students did not know what to expect but were excited to work with a prolific member of the music community.

“I’ve never been to anything like this,” high schooler Raven Woods said.

Her friend Sinceer Truss added she looked forward to “tips on what to do better and the experience.”

This clinic marks only the second for Kaplan.

Kaplan demonstrates transitions within a cappella arrangements.
Kaplan demonstrates transitions within a cappella arrangements.

“I just want to make sure I’m doing everything possible to help [music] grow and flourish. I love to see them excited,” Kaplan said. “I just would hope that they are inspired and that they believe in themselves.”

Some students, including UT Singer Nicole Doyal, will not soon forget his advice.

Featured soloist Nicole Doyal performs with UT Singers
Featured soloist Nicole Doyal performs with UT Singers.

“Halfway through the rehearsal I forgot that he was a famous guy because he was just so talented and knowledgeable and was helping us with our craft,” Doyal said.

But the collegiate singers were not the only performers to closely work with Kaplan. An ensemble from Seymour High School and another from Bearden High School received selections to perform onstage. Kaplan chose each school from YouTube submissions.

“It’s a huge opportunity for them,” Andrea Markowitz, a UT alumna and music director for Seymour High School A Cappella said. “For them to get to do it and only be between 15 and 18-years-old is huge. And it’s with someone who is passionate about the same thing as them.”

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Seymour High students work with Kaplan following their performance.

Seymour High performed a Michael Jackson medley. Kaplan then joined them onstage for advice and demonstration.

Choral Director at Seymour High Jean Burkhart hopes students will become interested in all genres of music from all periods by way of a cappella.

“I love the fact that [Kaplan] has a classical vocal background and to see how good vocal technique translates to any genre,” Burkhart said.

Kaplan grew up in choir beginning in middle school. He later majored in opera in college before getting the call to join Pentatonix. The call came just prior to the group’s appearance on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.”

Since then, Pentatonix won multiple Grammy awards and gained international attention with chart-topping tracks and albums on both iTunes and Billboard. Their most recent Grammy nomination comes for “Jolene,” a collaboration with East Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton.

Kaplan works with students from Bearden High School
Kaplan works with students from Bearden High School.

“When you think about a legend, you have a lot of ideas about what you would want them to be. She embodies everything you would want her to,” Kaplan said. “To be able to keep that humble heart is something that speaks volumes and can really set an example for the world.”

Tune in to the 59th Annual Grammy Awards Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. on CBS to see if Kaplan and Pentatonix will take home another award.

 

Images/Audio by Lexie Little

Edited by Taylor Owens