*One afternoon, on a packed subway train in Paris, several passengers—probably local residents—crowded around seven men singing their own rendition of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”
Cameras flashed. Hands clapped to the melody. And someone with a YouTube account recorded and uploaded the whole thing. Currently, the video has more than five million views worldwide.
From New Edition to N’Sync, the music industry has seen its fair share of male and female singing groups. If you listen closely, there’s normally one talented member in each band—the others tend to be average or plain run of the mill. However, this doesn’t apply to Naturally 7—they perform as a single, harmony-filled unit.
“When we’re hitting the high notes, we don’t want people to think a female is doing it,” explained Roger, founding member and musical director of the group. “It’s an all male band. We want them to know that it’s just us guys hitting the notes,” he added with a laugh.
Able to mimic an entire orchestra, Naturally 7 entertains audiences across the world by using one of the human body’s most precious instruments. The original members came together in New York in 1999, and released their first album the very next year. Roger teamed up with his brother, Warren, and five other talented singers they had come to know over the years from singing around the city.
“When I was a kid, my brother [Warren] always wanted a drum set but our mother always told him no because it was just too noisy,” Roger recalled during an interview with EURweb’s Lee Bailey. “Warren learned to make drum sounds with his voice [beat box] to compensate for not having real drums to play.”
He continued, “I approached Warren and asked if he could become the band’s drummer, so to speak, to accompany Naturally 7 on up-tempo songs. The rest is history.”
Having been in and out of several traditional male groups, Roger developed an affinity for a cappella sounds and a unique ability to create distinct harmony arrangements. The other members found unique aspects of their own voices to use as instruments during performances.
After winning several amateur singing competitions in New York and across the nation, Naturally 7 went on to release “Non Fiction” followed by five more albums, including 2006’s “Ready II Fly.” This project opened at number 14 on the Australian ARIA Charts and it peaked at number 67 in France. The group’s upcoming album project – “Hidden in Plain Sight” – which just happens to be their seventh release – took two years to make and will finally be released on September 23. You can pre-order at the group’s label, Hidden Beach Recordings.
“We create music from our hearts,” explained Stewart in his distinctive bear tone. “We handled this album with care. We wanted it to be something for the ages; something that everyone will talk about till the end of time. That was our mission.”
Although they have achieved international fame, the group feels as though many people still don’t know who they are. With that in mind, they named their newest album Hidden in Plain Sight—an ode to being under the radar.
“Our [newest] album has two meanings,” added the group’s musical director. “We have a spiritual theme in every one of our songs. But some people don’t actually see it. Hopefully they will this time.”
In 15 years, Naturally 7 has had to replace only three members (Jamal Reed, Marcus Davis, and Andre Edwards). Those who were added to the fold had to meet one specific requirement, among others.
“We’re seven black guys and that probably won’t change,” Eldridge predicted in a matter-of-fact tone. “If another member had to leave the group, we wouldn’t want to change the packaging. White guys really don’t fit our look.”
He added, “We’re such a tight knit unit and what we do is so intricate, it’s hard to replace someone. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into what we do. We’re all very passionate about our music; sometimes that causes confusion and disagreements. But we’re a family; we work through bad times and enjoy the good.”
Their phenomenal talent, coupled with a live show that many consider to be one of the best in the world, has Naturally 7 poised for a brilliant future. As 2014 unfolds, they will have toured Europe, Australia, Canada and the U.S.
“Our name comes from a very simple concept; there are seven of us in the group,” explained its leader. “Seven is also a complete number spiritually and musically; and naturally we’re using the instruments that were born with that are encased in our bodies. That’s what makes us special.”
For MORE on Hidden Beach recording artists Naturally 7, and to pre-order “Hidden in Plain Sight,” click HERE.