Dear Sara Bareilles,
I’m a big fan of yours. I think that your music is just great; I appreciate your candid, funny, compassionate social media presence; though I understand it was kind of miserable for you, I thought you were shining star on The Sing-Off; and I very much enjoyed your book. You’re on the shortlist of artists whose new albums I’ll pre-order without needing to hear a track. I think you’re that neat.
What’s more, when you wrote the music for Waitress, and went the extra mile to record all of the songs with help from Jason Mraz, I thought it was just awesome. A really good album, sure, but even better than that, it demonstrated an unusual level of creative ambition. This wasn’t just a concept album, but a gifted artist telling us a story well outside the wheelhouse and genre she’s known for, and I thought it was awesome.
So what’s next? As prolific and creatively gifted as you are, you probably have something underway, and I can’t wait to hear it. But when your schedule allows, I’ve got an idea for you: an a cappella album.
As a member of the a cappella community, I take great joy in “claiming” you. Before there was Pitch Perfect, name-dropping you as an alum of your college a cappella group was a way of both explaining and justifying the a cappella world as musically viable and something that legitimately talented, famous people were a part of. Moreover, hearing you taking the lead on “I Want You Back” for Straight No Chaser’s Under the Influence cover album offered one of my favorite tracks from the collection—not just the original professional artist singing an old favorite with aca-backing, but a contemporary vocalist putting her own spin on a classic in about as fun fashion as possible.
You’ve proven your ability to not only experiment with but thrive in off-beat genre work via What’s Inside. I’d love to hear you take on another genre from your past, and offer another distinctive sound style to a mass audience by arranging and recording an a cappella album—returning to the kind of work you put in for the original recording of “Gravity” with Awaken A Cappella.
Maybe this would involve forging an all-star a cappella team with a roster of contemporary artists filling in the appropriate vocal parts. Maybe it would involve collaborating with an existing pro group, or even a scholastic group. Maybe you hit the road, sort of akin to Ben Folds’s University A Cappella project and record different tracks with different groups. I’m not here to tell you your business--OK, admittedly, I sort of am given the nature of this column; please forgive me that and do what you will with the germ of an idea I’m offering you.
You’re wonderful and you don’t owe the a cappella world anything. But, it would be pretty awesome if you went for this.