WEST CALDWELL, NJ -- In honor of International Barbershop Quartet Day, TAPintoTV looks back at our conversations with Will Downey, member of New Jersey's #1 barbershop quartet, Gimme Four, and award-winning Musical Director and Producer, Deke Sharon.
Gimme Four is an International Semifinalist barbershop quartet based in Caldwell, New Jersey. Group members Paul Franek, Dave Ammirata, Will Downey, and Joe Servidio have been singing together since 2011 and are heavily involved in youth outreach and music education, having coached students across the tri-state area in multiple different settings.
The quartet has achieved great success in barbershop contests as Mid-Atlantic District Quartet Champions, finishing as high as 14th internationally. Along with being featured at the legendary Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center in NYC, Gimme Four opened for Jay Leno, toured St. Petersburg, Russia, and recently released their first album, "Gimme Four: Volume I".
Since 2018, Gimme Four has performed and mentored students at the Jersey Harmony explosion festival held at West Caldwell NJ's James Caldwell High School. Along with Gimme Four and other notable performers, Deke Sharon, Music Director of “Pitch Perfect,” who is considered the father of contemporary a cappella, has also participated in the Jersey Harmony Explosion event.
“My life’s work is to spread harmony through harmony,” said Sharon. “There’s something that’s deeper and more powerful about the human experience when you live it through harmony with other people.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jersey Harmony Explosion festival brought young singers together to be coached by mentors and increase their singing skills. “The kids come in early in the morning, spend the whole day rehearsing together on some combined songs, getting coached as individual groups, rehearsing in small groups with the clinicians we have coming in,” said Will Downey, the Festival Director,” and they also take classes in all things a cappella and barbershop.”
“When you’re around people who are different from you and you learn about how the sum is greater than the individual parts, then you realize that humanity wants those differences,” said Sharon. “There’s no place in the world that it’s taught better than when you sing together.”