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



Illinois State University
Saturday, February 25th, 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 Acafellaz is the premier all-bass a cappella group of Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. Originally founded in 1999, this group of tenors, baritones, basses, and vocal percussionists includes members from many different majors. They perform everything from pop music, R&B, and even the occasional country song. The Acafellaz are proud of their personal connections they share as a group. Although they joke around and have a lot of laughs, they always have one another’s backs at the end of the day. The Acafellaz believe that so much can be achieved by finding joy in music and realizing that it's bigger than any singular person or group. The Acafellaz have been brought together by music and hope to spread this passion through their performance. 

Clef Hangers is the first mixed vocal a cappella group at Illinois State University. Founded in August 2008, the group began with a small group of ambitious students who shared a passion for a cappella music. Each group member since then has helped make the Clef Hangers what it is today. This performance ensemble consists of bass and treble voices, typically with three to five voices on each part, plus a vocal percussionist. The Clef Hangers is open to all majors and auditions take place each semester. They typically rehearse three days a week for two hours each time. These rehearsals are crucial meeting times for the group to reconnect and to produce a cohesive sound with high-caliber musicality. Rehearsals are primarily run by a music director, but relies on collective input for final performance decisions. New repertoire is chosen each semester by the current group members and these selections showcase the wide range of musical interests of the group. All of their music has been arranged by current or graduated members of the Clef Hanger family. They perform all over campus throughout the semester and have their own concerts free of charge to the university and community. 

Dissonance A Cappella from Millikin University is a competitive mixed voice pop group led entirely by students. They recently put out an album that you can find on all streaming services. They like to feature arrangers from within the group and collaborate with other student organizations on campus. 

Fundamentally Sound is an inclusive, lower-voiced collegiate a cappella group made up of students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their repertoire consists of current hits and older tunes, alongside their personal favorite songs, in order to create a fun, musically-diverse, and entertaining atmosphere for their audiences. Fundamentally Sound (or FS) was founded in 2005 and has since enjoyed performing at many different venues including group meetings, company dinners, social gatherings, weddings, university events, ICCA, and more. 

No Comment is a passionate, ambitious group of best friends that hold an unbreakable bond to one another and the music they make. Although only 18 years old, this 15-member group has already made a great name in University of Illinois a cappella history and doesn't plan on slowing down. NoCo has recorded four studio albums and eight singles, all of which are available for streaming on all platforms. With that, give it up for No Comment! 

No Strings Attached is the premier co-ed jazz a cappella group at UIUC. The gorup members combine their versatile talents to create innovative performances. Although they specialize in jazz, NSA is known for their wide variety of music, including medleys that blur the boundaries between genres. No Strings most recently placed 3rd at their 2022 ICCA Quarterfinal, where alum beatboxer Evan Fouts won Outstanding Vocal Percussionist. They’ve also performed all across the Midwest, from in-town gigs to the suburbs of Indiana, and look forward to the upcoming release of their first single and music video, “The Euphoria Medley.” This tight-knit group of friends loves making music and memories together. Even though they’re called “No Strings Attached,” they guarantee you’ll fall in love. 

On the Brink of Normal (OTBON) was founded in 2011 as a vocal jazz group that was accompanied by a jazz band. Since then, a cappella music became more functional for the group and they completed Illinois State University's a cappella community by being the fourth group on campus and second mixed-voice group. However, they always celebrate their jazz roots with their anthem song, “What a Wonderful World,” as well as some jazz pieces every semester. Their group is uniquely dedicated to creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. Their current philosophy is to ensure that everyone understands their worth. A very community-based organization, OTBON’s set is primarily chosen by what members want to arrange. They hold a two-hour concert at the end of every semester and perform throughout the rest of the year at various events. 

Secondary Dominance is Illinois State University's premier treble a cappella ensemble. Established in 2004, they have been delighting audiences with their instrument-free performances on campus and around the Bloomington-Normal community. Secondary Dominance is a student-run registered student organization with Professor Mark Grizzard acting as faculty advisor. Their music selection ranges from pop to rock to Broadway and they arrange the majority of their pieces themselves! They are very excited for you to hear them perfom!

Established in 1992, The Illinois Rip Chords, hailing from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, performs a wide variety of songs and styles and is continuously expanding their vocal skillset. As the only competitive all-treble group on their campus, this group of 15 amazing singers performs shows on campus and across the Midwest. Apart from being a singing group, the members love to spend time together and are truly a family. You can keep up with their performances and updates on social media @illinoisripchords. Make sure to also check them out on Spotify and most music-streaming platforms to see what other riptastic music they have to share! They look forward to performing at ICCA every year and work diligently to share their best performance. With their versatile sound, kicking choreography, and unyielding love for music and performing, this diverse group of singers is sure to entertain any audience. Please enjoy The Illinois Rip Chords! 


Named Best Folk/Soul Artist at the 2022 Richmond International Film + Music Festival, Stone & Snow is an Americana pairing of songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson. In 2012, they began a collaboration filled with close harmonies and thoughtful lyrics and named themselves Stone & Snow as a nod to the mountain landscapes of the West. The duo has self-produced four full-length albums to date. A new collection of songs, Delicate and Wild, recorded with Grammy-nominated producer David Mayfield, will arrive March 31, 2023. Karen and Clint are also passionate about elevating women in music. In support of this, they created created The Hallowed Hall, an underground listening room that showcases data on their local scene's gender balance, and Karen is an instrument instructor for young girls with Girls Rock! Stone & Snow is invested in seeing more women grow and thrive in the music industry. 


Cory Ellis got his a cappella start at Northern Illinois University, where he was a founding member of the all-tenor/bass a cappella group, The NIU Huskie Hunks. Cory received his bachelor's degrees in music from Northern Illinois University and Western Illinois University, where he studied instrumental music education. Cory currently serves as the director of choral music at Rochelle Township High School, where he leads two curricular choirs and Midnight Voices, the school's vocal jazz ensemble. He is also a member of the Kishwaukee Concert Band. Cory has been judging with Varsity Vocals for seven years. 

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. 

Jessica Young-Eleazar (she/her/hers) is an alumna of Saint Louis University where she was a member of Astha A Cappella. In Astha, she sang everything from soprano to tenor and if you were lucky, she would bring freshly baked pies to rehearsal. She supported the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy's Mod21 during their 2019 and 2020 ICHSA seasons. Jessica is currently working on her Doctor of Education in curriculum, culture, and communities at Loyola University and holds an M.A. in teaching and learning (K-12 reading specialist) from Roosevelt University and a B.A. in middle school mathematics education from Saint Louis University. She is a certified Illinois teacher for middle school (fifth through eighth grades) with endorsements in mathematics, language arts, and music. Although she doesn’t technically work as a music teacher, she integrates music into her lessons whenever possible (ask her about her  songs for “Life Cycle of Stars” or “Helping Verbs”!). When she is not teaching, she loves to take dance classes with DivaDance Chicago and try out new restaurants and recipes! 


Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Nick Benson and Danielle Sutherland; 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!