Smooth Edge 2 is an eight-voice a cappella group from Fort Wayne, IN. Formed in 2010, SE2 quickly developed a reputation for their stellar a cappella sound and highly energetic and entertaining live shows.
SE2’s roots lie in the vocal jazz tradition of groups like the Manhattan Transfer, Take 6, and Singers Unlimited. But, with the recent popularity of a cappella music in popular music, TV, and movies, SE2 expanded its repertoire to include pop, classic rock, and more.
Today, SE2 performs cover versions of songs ranging from current pop hits to American classics and jazz standards and has released two full-length studio albums and two EPs.
In 2019, Smooth Edge 2 welcomed three new members and said farewell to three of the group’s veterans. In November of that year, the new SE2 lineup headed into the studio for the first time in hopes of finding their new sound as they began tracking their new project, 2020 Vision, slated for a summer release. They tracked the first two songs, but that session would prove to be one of the last times all of the members of the group would be in the same place at the same time for almost a year.
Enter COVID-19, quarantines, face masks, and social distancing. Producing an all–a cappella album in the midst of a pandemic proved to be challenging, to put it mildly. All of the remaining songs were recorded in Jeff Barnett’s home studio – one voice at a time with no one else in the studio to maintain social distancing. Blending with other singers is difficult when everyone is in the same room; it’s even harder when everyone is apart. Tracking was originally stated to be completed in just 20 hours of studio time, but it ended up taking more than 200.
Though tracking took much longer than planned, all of the initial recording was completed by the middle of September 2020. With help from fellow members Greg O’Keefe and Josh Trumm, Jeff edited the parts and prepared them for mixing.
Mixing a cappella music is a special challenge. Unlike instrumental music, each “instrument” in the mix sounds similar, and a lot of care must be taken to add character and interest to each voice without making them sound artificial. Sweetwater Studios’ Bobby Dellarocco was up to the challenge, and the group was delighted that he was willing to take on the project. He brought a fresh perspective to the group’s work and made it come alive. SE2 and their fans were thrilled with the results.