Ever since he graduated college about 25 years ago, Deke Sharon has wanted to be the Johnny Appleseed of contemporary a capella music.
"My overall goal was to help more people make music and get it out there," Sharon said in a phone interview from his native San Francisco. "I knew that if people only saw and heard this music, they would fall in love with it."
And Sharon has done his part to spread the word on the art of instrument-free singing. He was the musical director and arranger on the cult hit film "Pitch Perfect," as well as its sequel, which is due out later this year. He also has been the arranger, producer and consultant on the TV competition series "The Sing-Off," which has aired for five seasons on NBC.
An offshoot of that series has been "The Sing-Off Live! Tour," which stops next week at the Adler Theatre in Davenport.
The tour includes performances by the a capella groups VoicePlay, Street Corner Symphony and The Exchange, as well as Intersection, an all-male group from the University of Iowa.
"We very much wanted to support and showcase various groups on this giant, 56-city tour so people realize, 'Hey, these folks are in our backyard.' They may get more fans and realize how big this a capella community really is," Sharon, 47, said.
Along with the success of a capella acts Straight No Chaser and an a capella component on the TV series "Glee," plus the success of third-season "Sing-Off" winner Pentatonix, Sharon is successfully bringing a capella to the masses.
"This crosses over all styles of music, many different parts of the music and the media industry," he said.
The success came equally through both mass and social media, Sharon said, with innovative a capella videos appearing by the hundreds on sites such as YouTube.
When he graduated from Tufts University in Massacusetts, Sharon said, there were 200 college a capella groups nationwide. Today, there are more than 3,000.
Also, he said, there are more than 75,000 barbershop-style singers in the United States.
"It's not so much a flash in the pan. It's more toward people turning back to original music," he said, tracing what he calls the oldest form of music back to medieval madrigals and chanting monks.
"There's something inside of us, maybe the humanity of nothing but people up there expressing themselves, that's incredibly compelling," he said.
The success of "Pitch Perfect," a 2012 comedy-drama about college a capella groups, came as "a total surprise," he said.
"The rest of the world saw it, it was funny, they liked the music," said Sharon, who gathered the actors and actresses for a one-month "a capella boot camp" before filming began. "And then it exploded beyond anybody's reasonable expectations, which is such a wonderful thing."
The sequel, due out May 15, finds the Barden Bellas entering an international competition that no American group has won.
"Now we can go more and deeper, make these arrangements more over-the-top and exciting," said Sharon, who undertook another month-long boot camp before shooting the film.
"The feeling in the first movie was almost like, 'Hey guys, let's put on a show,' " he recalled. "There was a lot of exploring, but there was also a sense of what we were doing was right."
The success of a capella has become global, said Sharon, who had just returned from South Africa for its version of "The Sing-Off" when he was interviewed last week.
"It's an unbelievable amount of work," he added, "but it's a labor of love."