Select Page


Class No 816 – fee $70 per day



Tony works with the passionate and exciting African-American repertoire, focusing on spirituals, gospel songs old and new, and extending to South African church songs and other a cappella traditions. You will not only learn a wonderful and uplifting repertoire, but you will experiment with ways to make the songs come alive, learn about singing together – and you’ll have fun. Tony seeks to make things easy and interesting for everyone. It’s about collaboration, not competition.
The emphasis is on harmony, collective improvisation and freedom of expression. No music-reading skills are required, and you may record the sessions.

Composer, vocal arranger and singer, Tony Backhouse BA, BMus, is one of the leaders in the Australasian a cappella movement.

After a career playing in New Zealand bands like Mammal, Spats and the Crocodiles, he moved to Sydney. From 1986-2007 he directed Café of the Gate of Salvation, doing many of the arrangements and songs on their three CDs. He directed the Honeybees from ’93-2001 and has sung with and directed Sydney a cappella group, the Heavenly Light Quartet, since 1996. He arranged vocals for Dave Dobbyn, Tim Finn, Kate Ceberano and continues to arrange and compose music for choirs. 

Tony has researched the Black gospel tradition at Memphis State University; he has led nine gospel tours to the USA to participate in the African American church tradition and has run numerous vocal workshops in many parts of the world. He is also the author of Black gospel songbooks A cappella: Rehearsing for Heaven and Move on Up, and Freeing the Song on directing vocal groups.