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



Missouri State University
Saturday, February 10, 2018



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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.



Missouri State University’s A Cub Bella, founded in 2002, is composed of passionate, driven women who strive to share their story with their audiences. Their 2018 ICCA set is a message full of energy, emotion, and empowerment. The journey begins with the Little Mix hit, “Boy.” This song emphasizes the need to escape toxic relationships. Not just about boys, the storyline inspires listeners to get rid of any harmful people, activities, or objects in their lives. With the help of good friends keeping you on your feet, this song represents the importance of loyalty and the necessity of self-respect. The story continues with Kelly Clarkson’s “I Don’t Think About You.” Here, audience members will experience the discovery and reclaiming of a person’s hope and independence. Being able to move on from a damaging encounter is one of the most important steps of the healing process, and this song symbolizes the journey of finding one's inner power to become who they are. A Cub Bella’s story ends with Muse’s “Dig Down.” This empowering tune motivates audiences to look to the future and work towards their goals. Everyone can use some inspiration to stay strong during the harder times. Closing the set, this song allows listeners to truly “dig down” and become the best, happiest version of themselves. With their combination of vocals and choreography, A Cub Bella is ready to share their own personal journeys with the ICCA audience through the power of beautiful music. 

The Beartones was conceptualized in 2000 under the frameworks of musical excellence, brotherhood, and just having a good time. For more than a decade, The Beartones have consistently thrilled audiences of all shapes and sizes. The group is renowned for their polished and memorable sets, while racking up numerous performances and awards across the country, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis, Chicago, and New York City.

The purpose of Eastern Illinois University's premier a cappella group, The Eastern Euphonics,  is to provide students an outlet to express their love for various types of music. The Eastern Euphonics strive to thrill their audiences with tight harmonies, beautiful melodies, and show that not all music needs accompaniment. They enjoy long walks on the beach, bags of food, and puppies.

The Ghost Lights is WashU’s co-ed soundtrack a cappella group founded in 2011. In the last few years, they’ve performed music from Broadway, movies, TV shows, and video games. In addition to the ICCA, The Ghost Lights have performed at an NFL game, a charity fashion show for the United Way, and several events around campus. You can usually find them laughing or singing together (sometimes both at the same time).

Since forming in 2012, The Hibernotes have been known for their high energy and captivating performance style. As the premier mixed a cappella group on the Missouri State University campus, they have performed in countless venues across the Midwest. Regardless of what song they're singing, they are sure to leave their mark onstage, performing with power and confidence in their vocals and choreography.

Mizzou Forte is the University of Missouri's premier co-ed a cappella group, officially recognized by the university in the spring of 2005. The group seeks to give students the opportunity to sing outside of a normal choral setting. In the short time it has existed, Mizzou Forte has made a name for itself. Performances have taken the group to KOMU-TV 8, MU basketball games, Olympic swimming qualifiers (complete with Michael Phelps!), Truman State's Whisper in Your Ear 2006, Tap Day, the International Education Week Gala, the Missouri State Lottery, and much more. These students have diverse interests and fields of study, but they have united in their decision to pursue their passion for music in college!

The Naturelles is Mizzou's premier all-women's a cappella group. The Naturelles have been performing since 2007, long before the world became enchanted with the idea of a cappella through mainstream media. They are founded on the principles of empowerment and sisterhood, and basically, they're just a bunch of gals who love to sing and have fun together! They can usually be found singing in the stairwells of Mizzou's Memorial Union or at the many events around campus! 

RainbowTones is an a cappella group from the University of Central Missouri. Founded by Kelsey Dingman and Aaron Caselman in the fall of 2012, the group is  currently under the direction of Jessica Hensley and Lucas Raymond. The group is based off of acceptance and equality, as well as a love for music! ~ ☮ ♥ ♫ ~

Sweet Nothings is Truman State University's only co-ed a cappella group. Formed in 2005, this ensemble has performed in the Kirksville community and across the state. Composed of many different majors and disciples, Sweet Nothings represents Truman's liberal arts program perfectly. The group members vary in age and experience, from freshman history majors who sing purely for fun, to senior biology majors that perform regularly in university choirs, and many others in between! This diversity brings an interesting perspective to their music, as well as the relationship between the group and their campus.



Jeffrey Allison is a proud alumnus of The Bare Naked Statues, Saint Louis University's all-male a cappella group. At SLU, he served as the group’s president and business manager, arranger, and was also a principal choreographer in their ICCA sets in 2014, 2015, and 2016, winning awards for Outstanding Choreography at Quarterfinals and Semifinals in 2014. For a brief time before pursuing a career in medicine, Jeffrey was a B.F.A. musical theatre candidate at Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts. He enjoys listening to opera, and being a forever fan of John Mayer's music. 

Alberta L. Smith is a highly respected choir director whose performances have ranged from Tan-tar-a, Carnegie Hall, and in the great cathedrals of Italy. Alberta has served as a professional choral director for the past 37 years, in settings as diverse as a large urban school in St. Louis, a rural setting in central Missouri, a graduate assistant position with Dr. Guy B. Webb of Missouri State University, and, most recently, 29 years with the Springfield R-12 School District, where she was the 2012-13 Teacher of the Year. She holds degrees from Southwest Baptist University (B.M. in education) and Missouri State University (M.A. in music education), and has served as an officer and coordinator for professional organizations, working extensively with both middle school and high school vocal music programs. Alberta is an active member of MENC, NAFME, ACDA, MCDA, and NEA. Currently, Alberta is an adjunct instructor and the choral music director of two choirs at Ozark’s Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo. She has recently taken a position directing the secondary choir at Greenwood Laboratory School. Alberta also enjoys serving as judge and clinician for choral festivals and contests throughout Missouri. Ever committed, Alberta believes it is her calling to produce the highest quality of musical performances, while investing in the lives and futures of her students.

Benjamin Worley is a double master’s student in musicology and vocal performance. An accomplished bass-baritone, he was most recently featured in the Missouri Symphony Society’s production of Verdi’s “La Traviata” as Dr. Grenvil, while simultaneously music directing for Maplewood Barn Community Theater’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” He has also sung many roles with the University of Missouri’s Show-Me Opera, including the title role in Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro,” Simone in Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi,” Reverend Hale in Ward’s “The Crucible,” and Don Alfonso in Mozart’s “Cosí fan tutte,” and he covered the role of Don Magnifico in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola.” Ben is in his third year of graduate study at Mizzou, where he also holds a dual Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and vocal performance. He studies voice with Christine Seitz, is a member of the University Singers and has held graduate assistantships in voice, opera, and now musicology. He is a two-time national semifinalist at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) student auditions. Not only a gifted singer, Ben’s paper presented at this conference will be published in the Journal of Singing, the periodical published in affiliation with NATS in their September/October issue. He was the president and music director of Add9, Mizzou’s all-male a cappella group, for the 2013-2014 school year. Under his leadership, Add9 competed in ICCA, went on tour in St. Louis, Mo., and held a benefit concert for the Windsor High School Choir Department in Imperial, Mo.



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 Midwest 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