OUSD’s A Cappella Sensation Vocal Rush Performs at Freight and Salvage

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Richard G. Watson

Richard Watson ‘holds down the bass’ beforeheading off to Berklee School of Music

Vocal Rush, a five-time national champion a cappella ensemble based out of Oakland School for the Arts (OSA), held their year-end performance on Tuesday at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley.

Renowned for their passion and talent, Vocal Rush treated their fans and music lovers alike to a set of both classic and new songs and arrangements, including “Americans” by Janelle Monae, “Brave” by Sara Bareilles and “How Many Times” by Eryn Allen Kane, among others.

Richard G. Watson, son of Dr. Geoffrey and Carolyn Watson of Oakland, is an integral member of Vocal Rush, as he represents the only male vocalist of this 12-member group and will typically “hold down the bass” during performances.

He was invited and will attend the world-renowned Berklee College of Music Boston Aspire: 5-week Performance Summer Intensive. Watson was honored on May 13th at the 18th Annual African American Honor Roll Celebration “Honoring Oakland’s Top African American Scholars” for his excellence in academic performance.

The commendation and recognition of his excellent academic work at Oakland School for the Arts was made by the African American Male Achievement and The African American Education Task Force, OUSD Office of Equity. Tuesday’s show at Freight & Salvage Berkeley also included performances by Encore, a fellow OSA a cappella group, and RISE.

Founded in 2011 under the vision of founder and music director Lisa Forkish, Vocal Rush has become one of the most respected high school a cappella groups in the U.S.

Comprised of 12 high school students ages 15-18, the group has headlined a sold-out show at Yoshi’s, joined international vocal groups at the London A Cappella Festival, and recently performed with Michael Franti at the Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony in San Francisco.

Among their numerous accolades, Vocal Rush was also selected as one of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100 honorees, recognized for using their platform to create change. The group has released five albums and continues to challenge themselves musically. Tuesday’s show featured original arrangements composed by students and Forkish.

“These young people inspire me every day with their humor, compassion and joy. They love each other so much, and it comes through in the music — their connection with one another is infectious and expands outward to each and every audience,” Forkish said of  Vocal Rush.

Vocal Rush students are Rei Matsuno, Marilyn Cliett, Rose Nelson, Jocelyn Lyell, Aaliyah Washington-Purry, Juli Tucciarone, Genesis Chambers, Richard G. Watson, Anna Sara Mehouellley, Persephone Smith-Donohoe, Audrey Gilbert and Maya Nunez-Adler.

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