In recent years, shows such as Glee and The Sing Off have exploded in popularity. Millions of viewers around the world tune in to watch as these young people take popular music and do spectacular things. What most people don’t know is that this kind of entertainment can be found live at almost any college campus in the state of Michigan in the form of collegiate a cappella groups. Due to these musical media fads not only has the fan base for a cappella music expanded, it has also boosted the involvement in these harmonious organizations. At Grand Valley State University in the past three years alone the number of a cappella groups has increased from three to five!
For those of you who don’t watch Glee, and have no idea what collegiate a cappella is, here is the low down. Collegiate a cappella groups are student organizations that take popular music and arrange it in such a way that it can be performed using only voices. Different voice parts take on the lines that would usually be performed by instruments, as well as the written vocal harmonies and the lead vocal lines. Sounds pretty neat, right? In addition to performing these musical selections, most of these groups also do their own arranging. Grand Valley State University’s a cappella group, GV GrooVe!, prides itself in the fact that they only perform pieces arranged by its members.
Many of these groups, the thrill of performing not being enough for them, choose to participate in an international competition that takes place January through April of every year. Last weekend at Rackham Auditorium on the University of Michigan campus, ten Michigan a cappella groups went toe-to-toe in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Midwest Quarter Final. All ten groups were expected at the auditorium at 3:00 pm to begin a very long day of sound checking, rehearsing, and performing. Each group is judged on a plethora of criteria ranging in category from pitch and rhythm to choreography and professionalism.
As far as song choices go, there are really no restrictions. This makes for very diverse song choices between groups, ensuring that there is something for every single audience member. At the end of the night the top three groups were chosen, the top two of which move on to semi-finals. At the Midwest Quarterfinal the Michigan State University Accafellas came in third, with the University of Michigan G-Men in second, and The Dicks and Janes from University of Michigan placing first.
Most of these a cappella group host semesterly or yearly concerts that are either very inexpensive or free. I highly encourage those seeking new and exciting entertainment opportunities to check out the groups at the colleges and universities near them. Most of these organizations have websites featuring videos of their previous performances, so you can even shop around to find a group that caters to your musical preferences. The majority of the students performing in these groups are doing so because of their sheer love of music, making these performances some of the most engaging to watch. After seeing many Michigan a cappella groups perform, I bet it won’t be long before we will see one on The Sing Off!
Here are a few links to a cappella sites!
The Dicks and Janes- http://www.dicksandjanes.com/
The Accafellas- http://www.msuaccafellas.com/
GV GrooVe!- http://gvgroove.com/