Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 22nd season! After two incredible decades of presenting the best student groups – on stage and in the studio – our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever.

Our tournaments have grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase they are today, featuring more than 600 groups and 8,500 singers at 85 events across North America and the United Kingdom.

Our original tournament inspired the hit movie Pitch Perfect, based on the nonfiction book documenting the true story of rival groups competing against each other in our very own ICCA. The franchise released its third film this past December and remains the highest-grossing musical series of all time.

The stories of our real ICCA competitors are also the subject on the TV docu-series Sing It On, which follows competing groups on their journey to ICCA Finals. Sing It On aired in 80 million homes on POP TV and is now available on Netflix.

Despite the incredible growth and mainstream popularity we’ve enjoyed, our focus remains sharply on the promotion and development of the talent that crosses our stage. We believe competition fosters growth, as groups work together toward a specific goal and cultivate lifelong friendships. 

We provide top-notch feedback from our highly qualified judges – but more importantly, our singers get to connect with a larger audience from across the country, learning from their peers and finding inspiration in other groups.

With those same goals in mind, we were thrilled to launch the International Championship of A Cappella Open last summer. “The Open” (#AcaOpen) is an all-access a cappella tournament that brings together singers of all ages, regardless of student status, to compete on an international stage for a chance at $25,000. In its very first season, The Open featured 70 groups from around the world and culminated in a sold-out Finals at New York City's Carnegie Hall -- and we expect even bigger things this summer, as our second season kicks off.

We hope that over the years, The Open will encourage the growth of professional a cappella, much in the way the ICCA helped catapult competitive a cappella into the mainstream in Pitch Perfect and Sing It On, or how the development of the ICHSA contributed to the rapid growth of high school a cappella programs across the country. 

This is the biggest program extension in our long history, and we think it’s a natural one. After all, our founding goal was “to inspire young people to sing their entire lives.” If we want people to keep singing past the age of 22, well, they’re going to need a stage, right? 

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 22 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2018 season takes us. Committed to promoting our singers and energized by the great music they create, we look forward to another memorable season. Thank you for joining us!


Amanda Newman
Executive Director



University of Maryland
Saturday, February 3, 2018



We're talking about this event, and all of our events around the world!




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Since 1996, we have encouraged students worldwide to sing a cappella throughout their lives. Our programs include the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA), and the International Championship of A Cappella Open (The Open). We also produce the annual Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA) compilation albums.

Our a cappella competitions give top-notch a cappella groups the opportunity to showcase their talents for an international audience and to take home valuable feedback from our qualified judges. This year, competing groups will appear in venues all around the world, offering their energetic musical performances for your enjoyment.

 The college tournament takes place from January through April in nine regions across the country and around the world. Each region holds anywhere from 3 to 5 quarterfinals, and the top groups from each quarterfinal advance to the semifinal. The winning group at each semifinal is named Regional Champion and advances to the ICCA Finals at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York City.

 The high school tournament is now in its 13th year and continues to grow fast. We are now holding quarterfinal rounds in most regions, so that we can feature even more high school groups. The winners of each of 8 semifinal rounds will advance to the ICHSA Finals at The Town Hall in New York City.

The Open tournament took place for the first time in summer 2017 and featured 70 groups competing in six US  semifinals, an international semifinal, and a wild card round. The winners of those events advanced to The Open Finals at Carnegie Hall, where they competed against our reigning ICCA and ICHSA champions for $25,000. The second season of The Open will take place starting this summer and will culminate at Carnegie Hall on September 22.

 For a full tournament schedule, visit us at



The performance order was determined by random draw this afternoon and will be announced from stage.        

Tonight’s performers will be evaluated on elements of their vocal and visual performance, which carry numerical weight. The highest and lowest score from the individual judges will be dropped for each group. Our judges may recognize exceptional performances with special awards as they see fit.

There will be a 15-minute intermission. After the final group has performed, a guest performer will entertain you while the scores are tabulated.

Because each group only has 12 minutes to perform, we ask you to keep your applause to an enthusiastic minimum between songs. Please feel welcome to applaud as much as you want after each group has finished its set.

Videotaping and non-flash photography for personal use is permitted during the concert, so long as you do not disrupt our performers or other patrons. Due to licensing regulations, we do not provide a video or audio recording of this performance.



Formed in 2006, The Cleftomaniacs have been "stealing the show" for more than a decade now. From University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), The Cleftos is the premier co-ed a cappella group on campus, and as ICCA veterans, they have traveled to New Jersey, Tennessee, and throughout their native Baltimore area for performances and competitions. The Cleftos are a family, and in addition to singing and goofing off together every week, they love bonding over terrible hashtags, snapping candid shots of one another in passing, and making organized mouth sounds. 

DaCadence is a co-ed a cappella group hailing from the University of Maryland. The group puts on emotive performances and prides itself on building close family bonds. The group formed in 2010, and has taken off ever since. DaCadence placed 3rd in the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal and took the award for Outstanding Soloist. Apart from creating music, DaCadence loves to support TerpThon and Children's National every year, and was the top fundraising organization in 2016. Last year, DaCadence released its first full-length album, SURGE, on all major platforms. Their single, "River" by Bishop Briggs, was released this past fall as part of their upcoming album, expected to release early this year.

General Admission is Washington and Lee University's only co-ed a cappella group and the only group on campus to compete in the ICCA. Hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains, the group consists of some music majors and minors, but mostly of students who just love to sing. The group's musical background includes those who have had classical training and others whose only previous experience is singing in the shower. They perform a variety of music, ranging from classic rock to contemporary pop and R&B, arranged by a couple of their singers and others outside the group. They entertain the greater W&L and Rockbridge communities at concerts and charity events, including performances at the Souper Bowl for their Shepherd poverty program and their Stand Up SPEAK Out concert against sexual assault, as well as exchanges with other a cappella groups. They try to make their group not just an a cappella group, but a family. They spend time together outside of rehearsal and make an effort to welcome all of the incoming members each year. They believe that music is best shared through friendship and is best performed when the singers are connected with one another.

InterChorus holds the title of the only (and coincidentally the sexiest) co-ed a cappella group at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Founded in 2004, InterChorus can be heard making all sorts of sexual puns across campus, aurally pleasing their listeners with songs ranging from the golden oldies to modern-day pop and R&B. InterChorus is pumped to be competing in its seventh ICCA and hope you enjoy InterChorus as much as they do. Also, in case you were wondering, they chose the name because it sounds like sex.

The UMBC Mama's Boys is UMBC's first and only all-male a cappella group! As a group of men dedicated to music and performance, they fearlessly enter new territories in the a cappella world, adding dubstep songs and original verses to some of their repertoire. With very talented singers and arrangers, each group member has an important role in their sound and overall performance. They never fail to put on a show for on-campus events and they bring that energy on the road to entertain every crowd. They are performers, simple as that; at the end of the day, their purpose is to bring joy to everyone who hears their sound. As they approach their 15-year celebration, they hope to make a return to ICCA as a competitive group, especially after taking 4th in last year’s Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal. They hope you enjoy their performance!

Music Dynasty is Johns Hopkins University’s premier Chinese a cappella group.  The group was founded in 2013 by a small group of Chinese students who loved to sing. They have now grown into a full a cappella group composed of Chinese-American and Taiwanese-American students. They aim to celebrate Asian-American culture and showcase the diversity of music on the other side of the world for their audiences. To achieve this, they perform a mix of English and Chinese songs that range from ballads to pop music. Each year, they are invited to perform at various events around campus and have even performed at cultural events on other campuses. Although this group was founded because of a common cultural connection, they want to prove that they strive for excellence and can perform at the level of any other competitive a cappella group. Last year, they were honored to perform at the Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals on their home turf of Johns Hopkins University.  They have had a year to reflect and practice and they hope to show the ICCA judges and audience that Music Dynasty is a name not to be forgotten!

Founded in 1989, The Octopodes is Johns Hopkins University’s premier co-ed a cappella group, bringing their blue-clad energy everywhere they go! Over the last 25 years, The Octopodes have found success both onstage and in the studio, with multiple appearances at ICCA Semifinals and numerous awards and accolades for their studio albums. Recently, The Octopodes’ tracks have been featured on BOCA and Voices Only compilations. Their ground-breaking all-original album, The Kraken, won the 2015 CARA (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award) award for Best Mixed Collegiate Album, and they received runner-up recognition for Best Original Song by a Scholastic Group, plus nominations for Best Pop/Rock Album and Best Mixed Collegiate Solo. Along with competing and recording, The Octopodes take time to perform concerts on the JHU campus, collaborate with nearby groups, attend a cappella festivals, and excite audiences at off-campus gigs and performances. Wherever they go and whatever they do, The Octopodes are always sure to follow the four Ds: diction, dynamics, derformance, and dafterparty!

PandemoniUM is one of the University of Maryland's premier co-ed a cappella groups. They arrange all of their own music and perform at various gigs and shows on and off campus. The members of PandemoniUM call themselves “The Pandas” and love singing for any and all occasions. In 2016, PandemoniUM was awarded 1st place at the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals and went on to take 3rd place at Semifinals. In 2017, PandemoniUM kept their 1st place title at Quarterfinals and advanced to Semifinals once again. This eclectic group has been around since 1993 and is excited for what the future holds. They encourage all of their listeners to "BE YOU."

The Treblemakers is the oldest all-female group from the University of Maryland.  Aside from the awesome music they make, they are a group of supportive and fun best friends! They love performing together, the “Shrek” series, and Flaming Hot Cheetos!

The UMBC Stilettos is the only all-female a cappella group on UMBC's campus. This close group of girls shares both a love for music and the goal to pursue that love further in an a cappella group. They have competed in ICCA three times before and have always loved the chance to grow as a group through a competitive setting. The Stilettos are all about female empowerment and joining together in friendship through song! 


Faux Paz is the University of Maryland’s award-winning premier co-ed a cappella group. They have competed in competitions such as the ICCA and Boston Sings A Cappella Festival (BOSS). They were awarded 1st place at BOSS 2017, 3rd place at the 2016 ICCA, and were featured on Season 2 of "Sing It On." As they have expanded their audience, Faux has been able to travel all over the country to perform, compete, and meet amazing people!  They recently released their ninth studio album, Lithium, now available on all streaming platforms.



Ken Coolbaugh has been an actively involved in vocal music since high school, when his experience in multiple choirs and vocal jazz ensembles culminated in becoming a PMEA all-state musician. Taking his musical passion with him to Penn State University, he co-founded the co-ed a cappella group, Blue in the FACE, which is now one of the University's most active student-run groups. Ken was assistant musical director for over three years, and has had a hand in all three of the group's studio albums as an arranger, soloist, and assistant producer. With his previous experience competing in, hosting, and emceeing Varsity Vocals competitions, he is proud to join this season’s judging panel. 

Samantha James has been singing and playing music since childhood. Her early interest led her to a performing arts high school, where she majored not in voice, but in clarinet! She matriculated to Florida State University, where she was thrilled to sing bass in The AcaBelles, FSU's nationally recognized all-female a cappella group. During her tenure with the group, they won numerous CARAs, competed at SoJam, and performed at ICCA Finals as South Regional Champions. Post-college, she joined Lady Jaye, an innovative semi-professional group of all-star female singers from around the country. Their album, FLUX, received multiple CARA nominations and wins, including a win for Best Hip-Hop/R&B Song for "Rocket," on which she sang lead. Samantha currently travels as a wedding singer for the award-winning Bachelor Boys Band. 

Megan Coolbaugh has been involved with music since childhood. She attended Peabody Preparatory throughout high school, all while keeping busy with band, orchestra, choral, and theatre activities at her home high school in Pennsylvania. A graduate of Penn State University, Megan directed the young collegiate group, Blue in the FACE, for three years before receiving her Bachelor of Music Education. During her time as director, she led the group through the recording of their first professional EP, Face the Music (produced by the Vocal Company) and continues to act as a coach and arranger for the group. Last year, she had the honor of working with her husband to coach The Trills (Towson University) through their first ICCA run, leading the talented and dedicated group of singers all the way to Finals. Since graduating from Penn State, Megan has been teaching in the Anne Arundel County Public School District as a high school and a middle school choral director and continues to share her passion for vocal music, recording, and arranging with her students. 

Charnice Frazier has a long-lasting relationship with music, and has been singing since she could speak. In addition to singing in choirs from middle school through college, Charnice was part of a chamber a cappella ensemble in high school called Infinity. Through this ensemble, she realized that she wanted a cappella to always be a part of her life. In the fall of 2012, Charnice joined James Madison University's premier female a cappella group, Note-oriety, and served as business manager and president during her years with them. Along with leading the group, she arranged songs and helped record their award winning album, Note-oriety. Charnice currently resides in Southern Maryland and is the choral director at Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf, Md. Outside of teaching, Charnice sings in D.C.'s newest all-female vocal group, The District, and is one of the group’s assistant music directors. 

Michelle Gahagan got her start in a cappella in 2008 as a high school student. 10 years later, she's still at it, singing with Washington, D.C.'s namesake a cappella group, The District. Michelle's work with the District has recently been featured on Voices Only Forte VI for her arrangement of "No Me, No You, No More" by The Staves. Before entering the post-collegiate world of a cappella, Michelle sang with Virginia Tech's Sensations before transferring to the University of Virginia in 2012, where she joined The Virginia Belles. As The Belles’ former music director, Michelle oversaw production of the group’s 2015 CARA-nominated album, Right Hook, and received two CARA nominations for Best Female Collegiate Arrangement.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank our judges, hosts, competitors, volunteers, partners, and producers; and you, the audience, for supporting Varsity Vocals programming.


Amanda Newman
 Executive Director

Dave Rabizadeh
 ICCA Director

Andrea Poole
 ICHSA Director

Lucy Jacobs
The Open Director
 ICCA West Producer

Andrew Poole
 Director of Digital Media

Erica Tackett
 Director of Marketing & Social Strategy

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Emily Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Sara Yood
 ICCA & ICHSA Finals Producer
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

Courtney Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Henry Harrod
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Elise Hackl
 ICHSA Midwest Producer

Riley McMahon
 ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South & Southwest Producer

Mark Chen
ICHSA Southwest Co-Producer



We have an amazing team of people who work tirelessly to make our programs so valuable for our singers and audiences alike — and they all do it while holding down full-time day jobs, too! 


The top two placing groups advance to ICCA Mid-Atlantic Semifinals.



Find your favorite groups on Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA), available for purchase on iTunes and Loudr!





The International Championship
of A Cappella Open


Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, September 22, 2018