Vocal harmony group The Manhattan Transfer.
Vocal harmony group The Manhattan Transfer. Contributed by Lionel Midford Publicity

Harmony group in a four-part marriage

CHERYL Bentyne could say she's in a four-part marriage.

As one fourth of long-running American vocal harmony group The Manhattan Transfer, Bentyne shares an intimate bond with Tim Hauser, Alan Paul and Janis Siegel forged over 34 years.

"To sing four-part harmony is a gift we've been given," Bentyne said on the phone from her home in Los Angeles.

"It's not like singing by yourself. You become a unit. It's almost a spiritual connection. You become an instrument with four notes in it. It's a spectacular feeling when it's executed properly."

With decades of experience singing together, Manhattan Transfer executes it "properly" in every show.

"We've pretty much got that one figured out," she laughed.

"After so many years we can hear each other take a breathe for the next note, but eye contact is a good thing too.

"It's a lot of fun. It comes out different all the time even though we're doing the same songs. Every moment is a different moment. We work off each other. It's always a surprise and there's always a pay-off involved."

The group celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. Bentyne was brought in to replace original member Laurel Masse in 1978 and the line-up has not changed since then.

The multi-Grammy Award winning group is back in Australia with their latest show, which looks back at the quartet's 40-year history.

"We celebrate the whole life of the group in the show with footage, pictures and stories we're going to be telling," Bentyne said.

"You get one step closer to what this group really is about. There are a few stories I've never heard that are still coming up on stage. It would be a good book or documentary."

Sure to be included are Top 10 hits like Birdland, Route 66, Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone and Boy From New York City.

Bentyne is looking forward to returning to Australia, where Manhattan Transfer enjoys a strong fan base.

"It's got to be five plus years since we've been there," she said.

"I climbed the (Harbour) bridge. I was so excited. I couldn't get anybody to do it with me but I loved it.

"The flight there is a little long, but it's worth every single mile."

Manhattan Transfer plays Twin Towns on August 23 and The Tivoli in Brisbane on August 24.

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