New Haven Connecticuts teenage harmony group "KOMPOZURE" of Hillhouse High School brought the crowds to there feet with great applause at the Mahopac N.Y. oldies show sponsored by the Rotary Club. On the bill was the Mystics, La La Brooks, Dennis Tufano of the Buckinghams! The opening act was the acapella sound of "KOMPOZURE" It sure was nice to see some teenagers of today that love the group harmony sound!
To raucous applause, Aveion Downs took the stage and began belting out James Brown’s “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.”
“Fellas, I’m ready to get up and do my thing/ I wanna get into it, man!” he sang, emulating Brown’s full voice, his drawn-out enunciations.
At one point, Downs’s mentor Chaz Carmon draped a gold cape over his shoulders in a move reminiscent of a trademark Brown routine.
Downs’s and his doo-wop a capella trio Kompozure were kicking off a three-concert series Thursday night at Bregamos Community Theater, located in Erector Square. They’ve been around a year, and gaining traction with an old-school sound.
The group is comprised of three high school students, Downs, Javione Hinds and Shawn Sufra, all of whom are members of the anti-violence youth organization Ice the Beef. Hinds attends Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, the others Hillhouse; all are juniors. (Their Bregamos engagement runs through the weekend; details here. Proceeds will help the trio travel to D.C. and Maryland next month to perform two shows.)
The trio performed Thursday night to an enthusiastic audience on a stage decorated with a glowing streetlamp and a painted backdrop depicting a quiet stoop. (The concert’s theme was “Under the Streetlights.”) The musicians exuded a warm and effortless stage presence, strolling up and down the aisles and singing directly to individual audience members. During one of his solos, Downs lifted a woman out of her chair and began to dance with her as the audience cheered loudly.
As the concert progressed, the mood swerved from joyful to poignant with Kompozure using the stage to take a firm stand against violence in the community. In a moving moment, Hinds dedicated a song to their friend Tyrick Keyes, who was shot and killed by an unknown assailant near Bassett Street Park in 2017 at the age of 14.
Downs and Sufra have been friends for a long time: both of them run track at James Hillhouse High School. But the idea of starting a doo-wop trio came into being only recently when Downs approached Hinds at a party.
“I’d come to that party from another party, a pool party,” said Hinds. “And the first thing I said to him when he came up to me was, ‘Does my hair smell like pool water to you?’”
“And I said, “Yeah, it does,’” said Downs, smiling widely.
“He started singing for the females. I said OK, ‘This short guy has some swag.’”
A few months later, the three teens launched the idea for the group through Ice the Beef’s educational and arts program. They’d practice in the bathroom at Ice the Beef headquarters “for the acoustics.” Chaz Carmon, the president and youth director of Ice the Beef, hooked them up with some vocal coaches. They credit Edwin Muhammed, Ice the Beef’s music teacher, for introducing them to many of the songs on their set list and helping them refine their sound.
Doo-wop would seem to be an improbable genre for city teens in 2019, but all three of the musicians said that they have always loved the “old school songs.”
“I grew up on doo-wop,” said Downs. “We used to play that stuff around the house.”
The members of Kompozure also cited James Brown and Michael Jackson, both of whom they covered during the concert, as big inspirations.
“Eventually, we want to try to create our own genre of music,” said Sufra. “We do doo-wop. We do soul. We do R&B. But eventually we want to combine all of those into a new thing.”
The musicians are mentored, supported, and informally managed by Carmon, who introduced the trio at the beginning of the concert Thursday night and lent them a little accompaniment on stage.
“The three of them love each other and support each other,” he said, proudly. “And also, they’ve got amazing