Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 27th season! Our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever after more than 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, this year featuring more than 610 groups and over 9,100 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 "Pitch Perfect" franchise remains the highest-grossing cinematic musical series of all time.

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 skills and relationships.

We provide insightful 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.  

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 27 years ago, and we can’t wait to see how our 2023 competitors push the envelope. Committed to promoting our singers and energized by the incredible music they create, we look forward to another memorable season. Thank you for joining us!


Amanda Newman
Executive Director



DeKalb High School
Sunday, March 5th, 2023


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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 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 29th.

The high school tournament is now in its 18th year. 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 28th.

 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 ten 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.


The Harmelodics is Northern Illinois University’s student-run all-treble a cappella group. This year’s group ranges from freshman to juniors and represents a wide variety of majors. Harmelodics is an open and inclusive brotherhood that seeks to make music and lifelong friendships. They strive to change the a cappella world with their intricate harmonies and catchy melodies, one song at a time. When not in rehearsal, this group of brothers likes to venture out into the real world to shop for new crocs and hang out with their sister group. (Shout out to The Huskie Hunks)! They are so excited to once again take the ICCA stage and share their music. They can't wait to see what other groups have accomplished and wish the best of luck to all of the groups competing this season! 

Medusa (formerly Men in Drag) is an award-winning historically all-female a cappella group at the University of Chicago. The group is dedicated to challenging gender conventions with an extensive repertoire of bold and empowering music from all genres, covering everyone from Panic! At the Disco, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé to Janelle Monáe, Ariana Grande, and Lana del Rey. Medusa’s covers have been featured on national compilation albums, and they recently released an EP titled After Midnight on all streaming platforms. Having previously competed in the ICCA under their former name Men in Drag, they can't wait to show the a cappella world all that they’ve been working on! 

Formed in 1996, Northwestern University's Purple Haze A Cappella has been singin', dancin', and lovin' for over 25 years! Over the past quarter-century, Purple Haze has evolved into a stellar group of talented musicians, as well as a PHamily of fun, creative, and enthusiastic friends. Ranging from their annual fall inter-collegiate invitational, Best of the Midwest, to themed concerts throughout the year, there’s a little something in their music for everyone. Purple Haze has recorded nine studio albums and is working on their 10th, planned for release in 2024. Last year, their single “Bass Song” was chosen for 2022 Voices Only. The a cappella podcast “Mouth Off” called them "the best you're going to hear out of the whole Midwestern United States" and "the group that everyone wants to party with!" Beyond their home turf of Evanston, Ill., Purple Haze performs throughout the Chicagoland area and around the world. Purple Haze has traveled to Cuba, the Netherlands, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, Peru, and more! Purple Haze is beyond grateful to return to the ICCA stage! For more information on the group, its members, or their music, visit or their Instagram @purplehazenu. 

Run for Cover, founded in 2007, is the University of Chicago's only historically all-male a cappella group. The group has grown into the most popular groups on campus and in the Midwest, performing at concerts in Hyde Park and throughout the Chicagoland area. The group performed at ICCA Quarterfinals in 2014, their track "La Lune" was selected for Voices Only 2019, and their track "Gold" was selected as a Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) Pick of the Decade. RfC sings all kinds of music, ranging from pop to punk rock to R&B. Known for their enthusiasm and general love to have fun, the group loves to hang together both on and off campus and eat lots of great food. 

Formed in the desolate cornfields of DeKalb, Ill. in the fall of 2011, The NIU Huskie Hunks evolved into a nationally recognized group when they took the ICCA competition by storm for the seventh time in spring 2022. The group’s membership ranges from freshmen to super seniors from all types of different majors who share a common goal to rock their audiences’ socks off with electric harmonies and robotically precise choreography. In their free time, these hunky singers love to spot each others’ deadlifts, eat way too much Domino's pizza, have totally-not-weird sleepovers, and hang out with their sister group from NIU, The Harmelodics! From high school tours to gigs around Illinois or competing here at ICCA, they have a blast performing for their audiences. With a broad repertoire spanning from pop hits to country bangers, they’re always prepared to bring the "hunkiness" in their performances. 

Voices in Your Head is a student-run a cappella group from the University of Chicago which aims to "push the bounds of contemporary a cappella." Founded in 1998, the group has included undergraduate and graduate students whose studies range fromeEconomics to music to M.D./Ph.D. programs. Its unique repertoire includes original pieces, as well as an eclectic mix of pop, R&B, rock, and alternative music. Their newly-released single, “Wolves,” won three Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) and was featured on BOCA 2022, and “My Day Will Come” was featured on Voices Only 2022. 


Travis Erikson is the choral director and music theory instructor at DeKalb High School in DeKalb, Ill. He founded the DeKalb High School a cappella ensembles in 2004, and they have competed in the ICHSA since 2006. They have won awards for Outstanding Soloist, Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Arrangement, and Outstanding Vocal Percussion, and have advanced to ICHSA Finals in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2015. He holds a B.A., M.M., and Performer's Certificate in music, and has studied piano, voice, choral music, and music theory at Whitman College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Northern Illinois University under the instruction of Leonard Richter, Donald Walker, Ed Klonoski, Brian Hyer, Susan Pickett, Eric Johnson, Timothy Stalter, Joe Miller, Robert Bode, Christine Janis, and Orna Arania. 

Samantha Rich found a cappella in the same way as many of tonight’s performers: as part of a college group. She played multiple roles in Georgia Tech’s Infinite Harmony, from arranger to eventual president, and was able to be a part of several recordings that the group later released as EPs. She has since moved on to perform with Best to Burn, a post-collegiate group in Atlanta. They perform all around the city and in surrounding areas, bringing their own funky twist to top 40s, plus a fair number of original songs. In this time, she's also worked on SoJam planning committees in North Carolina and Georgia. Currently, Sam can be found working on solo performances in venues around Atlanta when she isn't jamming with Best to Burn. 

Elise Schroeder, who became an ICCA Champion during her collegiate a cappella career, is now a professional choreographer, working with a cappella groups across the country. During her senior year of her collegiate a cappella experience, she was awarded Outstanding Choreography at every level of the ICCA season. She now uses her skills to create and teach choreography to competing groups at the high school and college levels. Since 2015, Elise has also choreographed for competitive high school dance teams in kick, jazz, and hip-hop, for high school pom squads, and choral groups in large-scale a cappella productions and show choirs. Her work has been featured on the stages of The Town Hall in New York, Hamel Music Center in Madison, Wis., Athenaeum in Chicago, Ill., and more. Elise has also designed and choreographed music videos for a cappella groups to showcase their dancing and performing abilities. Elise has extensive knowledge and expertise in movement while singing and understands the power choreography has to tell a story during a set. To learn more about Elise Schroeder check out her website, 

A native of upstate New York, Erin (Shults) Smith developed her passion for contemporary a cappella as a member of Premium Blend, Ithaca College’s CARA-winning treble a cappella group. Erin quickly discovered a love for arranging and vocal percussion in college. She received her B.A. in music from Ithaca College in 2010 and went on to obtain her M.A. in arts management at the Florida State University College of Music. Erin served nonprofit organizations and universities in Texas as a fundraising professional for nearly a decade. In 2022, she moved to the Chicagoland region, joining the leadership team of the Northern Illinois University Foundation. As Senior Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, she helps NIU faculty and staff connect their transformative research projects and impactful programmatic initiatives with philanthropic support and external engagement opportunities. Outside of work, Erin continues to arrange and has volunteered as a Varsity Vocals adjudicator since 2018. She also previously served as a master clinician, workshop presenter and panelist at SoJam and briefly supported the fundraising efforts of the A Cappella Academy. She remains a dedicated advocate for the contemporary a cappella discipline and for the performing arts.

Jeff Watson 
graduated from The University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. At USC, he served as president and three-time ICCA host chair for his a cappella group, Reverse Osmosis. With Reverse Osmosis, Jeff reached the 2011 ICCA Semifinals as a featured soloist, opened for Ben Folds at the Hollywood Palladium, and performed in Alaska, New York, D.C., and all over the West Coast. He has recently served as an ICCA and ICHSA judge in the Midwest and Southeast and sings with the Chicago Chamber Choir. Jeff is the Director of Marketing Communications for rEvolution, a global sports marketing agency based in Chicago.


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

Elise Hackl-Blumstein
ICHSA Director

PA/MA Program Coordinator

Lucy Jacobs
The Open Director
 ICCA West Producer

Emily Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Andrew Poole
 Director of Digital Media

Erica Tackett
 Director of Marketing

& Social Strategy

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Bronwyn Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Gemma Davies
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Christopher Witham
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Emily Benjamin
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Danielle Sutherland
 ICHSA Midwest Producer

Jake McVey
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

Cameron Clemens
 ICHSA West Producer

Ben Garza
 ICHSA Southwest Producer

Luke Thomas
 ICHSA South Producer

Adam McNeil
ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Nicole Kholweiss
 ICCA Central Day-Of Producer

Courtney Jenson
 Associate Producer

Emcee Extraordinaire


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 at this event will advance to the 2023 ICCA Great Lakes Semifinal.


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!