THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF COLLEGIATE

A CAPPELLA

DEAR FRIENDS,

 

Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 24th season! Our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever after almost a quarter century of presenting the best student groups on stage and in the studio.

Our tournaments have grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase they are today, featuring more than 660 groups and more than 10,000 singers at 90 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 "Pitch Perfectfranchise remains the highest-grossing musical series of all time.

The stories of our real ICCA competitors were also the subject of the TV docu-series "Sing It On," which followed competing groups on their journey to ICCA Finals. "Sing It On" aired in 80 million homes on POP TV and enjoyed a long stay 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 three years ago. “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. Its fourth season will kick off this summer.

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 24 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2020 season will take 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!

Sincerely,

Amanda Newman
Executive Director

ICCA SOUTH SEMIFINAL

 

Carolina Theatre
Saturday, March 7th, 2020

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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

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ABOUT VARSITY VOCALS

 

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 annually produce The Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and The 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 four to five 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 Town Hall in New York City on Saturday, April 18th.

The high school tournament is now in its 15th year and continues to grow every year. We are now holding Quarterfinal rounds in all of our regions, and the 2020 season will feature the largest high school tournament field in our history. The winners of each of seven Semifinal rounds will advance to the ICHSA Finals at The Town Hall in New York City on Saturday, April 17th.

The Open Tournament celebrated its third year in summer 2019 and featured six Semifinals that lead to the Open Finals featuring those six Regional Champions, two Wild Card Champions, and our 2019 ICHSA and ICCA Champions. Those 10 groups competed in October 2019 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.



 For a full tournament schedule, visit us at 
www.varsityvocals.com/events

ABOUT TONIGHT'S SHOW

 

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.

TONIGHT'S COMPETITORS

 

Greyscale was founded in 2013 at East Tennessee State University. They perform a wide range of musical styles, from pop to jazz to country to gospel. Greyscale has released four studio albums that are available on all major digital platforms. 

UT Singers is the oldest vocal ensemble on the UT campus and was the original choral ensemble in what was then the Department of Music. Its roots date back to the 1950s and and the group has been named Tennessee's Musical Ambassadors by the Tennessee General Assembly. UT Singers started as a traditional choral ensemble, incorporated a show choir element over the years, eventually became a jazz choir, and is now an a cappella group. 

Founded in 2010, The Tarpeggios, known about campus as The Tarps, is UNC Chapel Hill's very own co-ed a cappella group. Though still a relatively new group, The Tarps have developed their own unique music style and have become a distinct part of the Carolina a cappella community. They enjoy singing all around campus and North Carolina at many events, weddings, arts festivals, sporting events, and more. They have just released their newest singles, “Before He Cheats” and “G-Train,” which can be found on Apple Music and Spotify. The Tarpeggios' are excited for this season, including competing here at ICCA and releasing a new EP this spring. 

Tar Heel Voices, established in 1988, is UNC’s oldest co-ed a cappella group. Since its founding, THV has played a pivotal role in Carolina’s music scene. From performing at "Late Night with Roy" as the 2017 National Championship banner was presented to competing in the ICCA, THV continues to leave its musical mark on audiences at UNC and the surrounding area. THV records an album every other year and tours the country annually. Tar Heel Voices is a close group of students and friends, bonded by a passion for music and community. They carry on a tradition of camaraderie and togetherness, remaining 18 hearts, one voice. 

Florida State University's premier a cappella group, All-Night Yahtzee, started over 20 years ago. They have since evolved into one of the most noted groups in the nation. Competitively, Yahtzee has advanced to the Final round at the ICCA, received recognition at the National A Cappella Convention (NACC), placed at the Boston Sings A Cappella Festival (BOSS), and performed as a showcase group at the Betsy A Cappella Festival. Yahtzee has also recently released an album, a live EP, and several music videos. In the past two decades, All-Night Yahtzee has changed dramatically, each year growing and evolving. However, their members continue to promote the ideals Yahtzee has always reflected: confidence, fun, and power. 

Mixed Mode is a mixed a cappella ensemble hailing from the University of Central Florida founded in 2015 and based in Orlando, Fla. Mixed Mode entered the a cappella scene with a mission to create music that causes a visceral reaction within the audience. That feeling of music hitting you right where you need it most is what Mixed Mode is all about. Over the years, Mixed Mode has been able to come together as a family of musicians who put their passion for music and artistry into every performance. Mixed Mode has made multiple award-winning appearances at various competitions and festivals over the years, including placing 3rd at the 2018 ICCA South Semifinals, competing in multiple SoJam festivals, the 2019 Boston Sings festival, as well as appearing on the 2019 BOCA and NACC compilation albums. In 2019, Mixed Mode released their debut full-length studio album, Blossom. Mixed Mode hopes that their music moves you and that you share it with everyone you know. They are not your garden-variety college group. They are always looking to push the boundaries of what the human voice can do. 

Pitchmen is the groundbreaking all-male a cappella group from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. The young group has become known for mixing powerhouse men's vocals with energetic and creative arranging to produce a sound unique to the a cappella world. The group reflects the growing and dynamic Nashville music scene by performing a wide variety of genres. Although rooted in pop and R&B, Pitchmen has arranged and performed genres such as rock, country, folk, and jazz. Coming into their second year of competition, Pitchmen plans to capitalize on last year's experience and bring a powerful and meaningful performance to the ICCA stage. The music in Pitchmen's 2020 ICCA set is at first glance emphatic, fun, and boisterous, but is actually centered around the Pitchmens’ own story. The songs each contain themes of patience, hardship, acceptance, and understanding, all of which the Pitchmen have walked through while shifting into their current identity. With this set, the group hopes to carry their story outside of Nashville and to a broader audience. 

The Beltones is an 18-member student-run, co-ed a cappella group based in Nashville, Tenn. at Belmont University. Founded in 2009, they have spent the past 10 years sharing their love for music with local and national audiences, including ICCA Finals in New York City in 2013, 2014, and 2017. The Beltones commit to a foundation of positivity and value the privilege of making good music with people they love. 

Tampa Tones, from The University of Tampa, is thrilled to create music together in 2020! Tampa Tones is thankful to share their passion for a cappella with one another and want to inspire others to take their chance onstage as well. They would like to wish all other teams competing this year the best of luck! 

Tulane University’s only competitive group, [wavelength], is an exploration of what happens when they crystallize the identity of New Orleans into an a cappella format. This group is made up of musicians, arrangers, singer/songwriters, composers, dancers, and artists. They find that in each of their other groups and a cappella experiences, the making of art often comes second to meeting goals and expectations. They want and all need to change that. [wavelength] provides an additional artistic outlet for the group members, while also bringing the motto of New Orleans to a cappella: “laissez les bon temps rouler,” which is oftentimes translated as “life is too short to be angsty all the time, get down a little!” They’re here to bring joy to the sonic sphere, jazz to a cappella, and a sense of community to the Tulane a cappella and musical environments.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Valerie Davidson is in her seventh year teaching chorus in Forsyth County Schools. She holds a bachelor's degree in choral music education and a master's degree in music education, both from UNC-Greensboro. She has been a student and lover of music since she started piano lessons at age six and was involved in choirs throughout her middle school, high school, and collegiate years. In addition to her long experience singing with traditional choirs, Valerie has also performed in show choirs, gospel choirs, and contemporary pop a cappella groups. During her undergraduate studies, Valerie founded and directed the first co-ed a cappella group at UNCG Greensboro, The UNCG Chariots. She also completed her student teaching at Glenn High School in 2012 with Mrs. Carol Earnhardt and went on to serve as the chairperson for middle school chorus in Winston Salem/Forsyth County. Valerie currently directs two a cappella groups at Atkins High School, The Golden Girls and Maroon 13.

A graduate of Western Carolina University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in piano pedagogy and a concentration in musical theatre, Sarah R. Fowler currently serves as a vocal coach and staff accompanist for the WCU School of Stage & Screen. She also works with the WCU School of Music as the vocal director for their premier vocal and instrumental performing group, Catamount Singers and Electric Soul. She is one of the most sought-after vocal coaches and accompanists in Western North Carolina, having performed at both the Grand Ole Opry and at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. She performs regularly at various professional theatres as a music director and at regional area high schools as a choral accompanist. During her college years, she performed alongside notable opera singers Angela Brown, David Malis, Tonio DiPaolo, and Sherrill Milnes. She has also performed with the United States Army Field Band. Sarah currently resides in Lake Junaluska, N.C. and serves as the Director of Music and Youth Ministries at the First Presbyterian Church in Weaverville where she directs the adult, handbell, and youth choirs as well as the orchestra. She is honored to return to Varsity Vocals for her seventh season as an adjudicator. 

Selame Scarlett hails from Okemos, Mich. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, she served as music director, arranger, and vocal percussionist for Capital Green A Cappella. Currently, she is a clinician for high school and collegiate groups in the Great Lakes region. She served as a percussionist and vocalist for the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA)-winning, all-female sextet, Lady Jaye, and the all-female gospel powerhouse group, Traces, which was featured on Season 5 of NBC's “The Sing-Off.” In the summertime, Selame is an instructor and counselor at A Cappella Academy, a Los Angeles-based vocal camp for young adults (ages 13 to 17). Selame has been fortunate enough to record alongside groups such as Naturally 7, The Boxettes, Pentatonix, Duwende, and Traces of Blue (formerly Afro-Blue)! She has led percussion workshops and masterclasses, individually and with her beatboxing colleagues. Alongside a cappella, Selame has a fiery passion for healthcare. As the leading referral coordinator for one of the largest digestive clinics in the Central Michigan area, she facilitates continuation of care for patients with various GI, liver, and pancreatic diseases. She is excited to see and hear some great music tonight! 

While his experience with a cappella began as a member of Eight Beat Measure in 2005, Rick Thomas has been extremely active in the greater a cappella community since 2010. His leadership roles include Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA) Program Manager of Awards and Director of Outreach for the A Cappella Education Association. Additionally, Rick serves as a clinician for groups across the country, works as a producer and mix engineer, and is the face of Richard Thomas Music. 

SPECIAL THANKS

 

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 Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Patty Floyd
 Accountant

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Courtney Jensen
 Associate Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Bronwyn Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Gemma Davies
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Christopher Witham
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Elise Hackl
PA/MA Program Coordinator  
ICHSA Great Lakes, Midwest, & Southwest Producer

Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South Producer

Nicole Kohlweiss
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

OUR TEAM

 

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 placing group will advance to the 2020 ICCA Finals.

BRING THE HARMONY HOME

 

Find your favorite groups on The Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and The Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA), available for purchase on Apple Music and Amazon Music!

VIEW ALBUMS

varsityvocals

THE OPEN

 

The International Championship
of A Cappella Open

ARE YOU READY?


FALL 2020