25th Annual

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Boston | Chicago | Rocky Mountain | Los Angeles | New York | Pacific North West | San Francisco | Mid Atlantic

The Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival is the premier American showcase for vocal harmony music. The annual national competition draws from hundreds of vocal groups from around the country with regional competitions in eight cities. The winning group from each festival is flown to perform in front of celebrity judges and a sold out house of enthusiastic a cappella fans at the National Finals.

2009 National Champions

MAXX Factor was formed in 2004. This current foursome has been singing together since August 2007. Lead Leslie Wodday became a Queen of Harmony in 2000 with Signature Sound Quartet. She joined MAXX in August of 2007. Founder Valerie Hadfield-Rasnake is a barbershop brat. She sang with Region 19 medalist Quartets Ritz Carleton and Vanity Fair. Co-founder Baritone Kim Hudson, also a barbershop brat, has sung with Region 19 medalist quartet Vanity Fair. Prior to joining MAXX in 2005, Tenor Molly Plummer sang with Region 19 multi-medalist quartet RhythmWorks. Molly and Valerie are members of the International medalist chorus Pride of Baltimore. Kim and Leslie, currently Chapter-at-Large, have competed internationally with the Pride of Baltimore chorus.

Members: Molly Plummer, Leslie Wodday, Valerie Hadfield-Rasnake, Kim Hudson

2009 Results

National Champions

MAXX Factor


The Love Notes



Audience Favorite

The Love Notes

Most Innovative Composition

"The Future Part 2" - Richard Steighner, Mouth Beats

The David Lichtman Award
Best Original Arrangement

"Book of Love" - Jason Caffarella, Rezonate

2009 set list

2009 National Finalists

LoveNotes - (the artists formerly known as UnderAge) are a group of four young ladies (ages 18-21) singing a cappella 4-part harmony, mostly in the barbershop style. They have been working, competing, and performing together for six years. They have had performing opportunities beyond their years. As UnderAge they became the 2005 International quartet champions for the Young Women in Harmony division of the Sweet Adelines organization. As champions, they have been guest performers all over the country from Oregon to Detroit to Rhode Island. They have shared the stage with the Kingston Trio, sung the National Anthem for numerous professional sporting teams, participated in America's Got Talent in both Los Angelas and Las Vegas, and were guest performers in Germany this last Spring for BING (Barbershop in Germany) festival. LoveNotes also performs for numerous local events throughout the year. As of 2008 they have matured into young ladies over 18 hence the name change to LoveNotes which expresses their love of music. They are exploring numerous a cappella styles which they very much enjoy. They are very commited to excellence in their craft and hope you enjoy them.

Members: Brittany Gilmore, Mia Dessenberger, Caitlin Smith, Stephanie Lawson

As the premiere a cappella group from Eugene, Oregon, the gentlemen of Rezonate sing R&B, Gospel, Pop, Soul, Jazz, Funk, and even some Hard Rock, both arranging covers and writing original songs. The six members met each other through the Oregon Children's Choir, and started singing together as Rezonate sometime around December 2004. Since then, they have appeared at many venues, including art and air festivals, many local high schools, and even a live mini-concert broadcast from a leading pancake house on the local guitar rock radio station. Would you like a live station I.D. with your order of French toast? Call Rezonate!

Members: Aaron Matthew, Chris Dobson, David Fertal, Jason Caffarella, Tyson Biggerstaff, Justin Diller


Start with two music teachers, add one preacher, stir in a financial planner, and you could have the basic ingredients for any great quartet, but 3 Men & A Melody is not your basic quartet. 3M&M first formed in the stairwells of the women's dorm at Northwest Missouri State University. (Can you find better acoustics or a better audience?) These four guys have been around for 15 years competing mostly in the Barbershop Harmony Society. Since their first visit to the international stage in 2001, they have consistently placed in the top twenty, and once in the top ten. These guys are highly sought after clinicians for Young Men in Harmony and Harmony Explosions across the country, bringing their passion for a cappella harmony to young people and educators alike.  In-house Tenor, Chris Droegemeuller arranges much of 3 Men & A Melody’s music to give them the unique sound that best highlights their voices. Get your ears ready for a stage full of a harmonic variety of a cappella jazz, doo-wop and barbershop.

Members: Chris Droegemeuller, Eric Derks, Brian Bellof, Brad Stephens

Rocky Mountain

No words, just rhythms, sound effects, and vocal percussion. MouthBeats explores the sonic barriers between vocal and instrumental music. Fusing pop, rock, jazz, world, and military styles, MouthBeats is on a never ending hunt for new beats, new sounds, new grooves.

Members: Tim Jones, Matt Murphy, Chris Schenk, Richard Steighner

Los Angeles

Evolution is an all male Vocal Rock Band, based on the Westside in LA. Together, these gentlemen use lyrical 'mushtick', tight harmonies, and a powerful synergy that creates great music and an entertaining good time. EVOLUTION plans to "Heal the World Through Harmony" using original arrangements ranging from the 50's to today's pop hits, as well as creative, ground-breaking originals that help their audiences think outside the box. Ladies and gentlemen, "Let EVOLUTION sing"!

Members: Joshua Silverstein (Beat Boxer), Ken White (Bass), Michael Maury (Baritone/Tenor 2), Rolland Lopez (Baritone/Tenor 2), Rono (Tenor 1/Tenor 2), Jamie Paisley (Tenor 1)


MAXX Factor was formed in 2004. This current foursome has been singing together since August 2007. Lead Leslie Wodday became a Queen of Harmony in 2000 with Signature Sound Quartet. She joined MAXX in August of 2007. Founder Valerie Hadfield-Rasnake is a barbershop brat. She sang with Region 19 medalist Quartets Ritz Carleton and Vanity Fair. Co-founder Baritone Kim Hudson, also a barbershop brat, has sung with Region 19 medalist quartet Vanity Fair. Prior to joining MAXX in 2005, Tenor Molly Plummer sang with Region 19 multi-medalist quartet RhythmWorks. Molly and Valerie are members of the International medalist chorus Pride of Baltimore. Kim and Leslie, currently Chapter-at-Large, have competed internationally with the Pride of Baltimore chorus.

Members: Molly Plummer, Leslie Wodday, Valerie Hadfield-Rasnake, Kim Hudson

Drawing on influences from classic soul to modern alternative, Cartoon Johnny performs a variety of audience favorites and original music, bringing audiences to their feet show after show. Based in Washington, D.C., Cartoon Johnny was named the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweepstakes champion in 2005, and has played up and down the East coast. In '07, the group was proud to join the National Symphony Orchestra and director Marvin Hamlisch for the Kennedy Center's Holiday Pops concerts, in true CJ style, of course. Harmony, rhythm, and soul, with just a touch of mischief and a whole lot of fun -- that's Cartoon Johnny

Members: Kieran Daly, Kevin Dixon, Ben Feeney, Michael Henrickson, Darcy Romano, Malcolm Lee


This highly accomplished foursome brings more than 100 years of musical experience to the stage. Combination of their voice style and talents, makes them one of the premier a capella groups in the Northeast. They were the first group to win both the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) Northeastern Championship, and the Harmony Sweeps (Boston) Championship.


Members: Mike Gabriella (tenor), Bob O’Connell (lead), Mike Maino (bass), Jimmy Berger (bari)


Amy Bob Engelhardt is the sole female member of Grammy-nominated vocal band without instruments, The Bobs. Since joining the eccentric, genre-busting quartet in 1998, she has won numerous ASCAP songwriting awards. Her writing, arrangements and vocals are featured on The Bobs' CDs Coaster (2000), The Best of The Bobs (2003), Rhapsody In Bob (2005), Get Your Monkey Off My Dog (2007), concert DVDs LIVE AT THE 20th CENTURY (1998), THE BOBS SING! (2001) and Coldfoot Films' recent documentary about The Bobs, SIGN MY SNARLING MOVIE (2007). Amy's brainchild, "Rhapsody In Bob" (Gershwin's concerto arranged for piano - and The Bobs as a vocal orchestra), premiered at Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts in Spring 2005. Amy's solo CD, Not Gonna Be Pretty was released in March 2008. Additional vocal credits include Jim Henson's Animal Jam (Discovery Kids/The Learning Channel), Barbra Streisand's Timeless concerts, Harry Shearer and Judith Owen's Holiday Show at Walt Disney Concert Hall (LA), NPR programs West Coast Live, Mountain Stage, and E-Town, special material for Minnesota Public Radio with The Bobs (and countless FM-radio morning zoos), The Doctor Demento Show, Hooked on Phonics and interactive educational website Smarterville. Amy's album credits include Neil Young's Living With War, Bob Malone's Born Too Late, Carla Ulbrich's Sick Humor, and The Tony Jones Vocal Project, Julia Sweeneyís Letting Go of God (produced by Don Was) and in the documentary, CSNY: DÈjA Vu.

Craig Knudsen - For the past 16 years Craig Knudsen has been a performer / composer / arranger with the EDLOS (the 1989 Harmony Sweepstakes National Champions). In 2001 Craig expanded his horizons to include representation of other performing artists and opened his own talent agency, Knudsen Productions. He is currently the exclusive North American Artist Representative for the multi grammy award winning a cappella sensation, the Swingle Singers; the Grammy nominated early music vocal ensemble, Stile Antico; as well as Voces8; and, yes, The EDLOS. For the past 11 years Craig has also served as the music director for the Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre Project. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Craig’s performance credits span a wide variety of musical styles and performance mediums. As an opera and classical singer, he has performed leading roles with Pocket Opera, Mendocino Music Festival Opera, West Bay Opera, Berkeley Opera, Las Vegas Opera, Pacific Repertory Opera and the Austin Opera in Austin, TX. and has been the tenor soloist in numerous oratorios, performing with the Santa Clara Chorale, the U.C. Symphony, the Mendocino Music Festival, The Bronx Arts Ensemble, the Prometheus Symphony, the Valley Chorale Society and the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra. He also toured to the East Coast as a tenor soloist with George Coates Performance Works, performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. Craig originally came to the SF Bay Area in 1982 to join the San Francisco Mime Troupe as a saxophone player/actor/music director, and he toured extensively with the Troupe in the U.S. and Canada and, before that, he was the sax player with the Marcia Ball Band out of Austin, TX. Just to make sure he is always busy, Craig continues to teach private voice lessons out of his studio in Berkeley, CA.

Claytoven Richardson has worked on hundreds of projects throughout his career. Constantly in demand as one of the top session vocalists, his voice can be found on hit video games like Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 1 & 2, as well as on albums featuring Grammy winning artists such as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Kenny G, Patti Austin, Celine Dion, Marc Anthony, and many others. This vocalist, now author has also penned the book, “The Professional Studio Vocalist”, which spawned from a course he created and currently teaches at San Francisco State University for the Music Recording Industry Department. Claytoven is a serving board member of the San Francisco Chapter of the Recording Academy and is an active participant with non-profit organizations such as Oakland based Youth Movement.

Michele Weir is one of the leading figures in vocal jazz education today. She has earned international recognition through a diverse set of talents as  arranger, teacher, singer and pianist. With dozens of published vocal arrangements to her credit (Hal Leonard, Shawnee Press, Alfred Publishing and others,) plus works for big band and orchestra, Michele is a prolific arranger. In 2004, she also launched her own online publishing company, "MichMusic."  Professional ensembles performing her work include Manhattan Transfer, New York Voices, M-Pact, Beachfront Property, Chanticleer, Voice Trek, the Boston Pops,  and the Buffalo, Cincinnati and Pacific Symphonies. Michele's music has been featured on the Shari Lewis TV show, Disney's "101 Dalmations"  Sing-along CD, and the Holland America Cruise line.

A former member of the Grammy-nominated vocal group "The PM Singers," Michele frequently performs as featured guest vocalist at various jazz festivals.  As a pianist, she has toured extensively with a variety of artists, including singer Bobby Vinton. In her role as Music Supervisor for the DreamWorks film, "Prince of Egypt," she journeyed through Europe and Asia overseeing music production for the film's foreign language dubs. Her solo CD with jazz guitarist Bruce Forman is titled, "The Sound of Music." Currently serving on the faculty of UCLA, Michele has previously taught USC, CSU Long Beach, and the Phil Mattson School.  Highly respected as a teacher and clinician, her work has taken her to more than 20 countries around the globe. Recent notable  presentations include the World Choral Symposium, the IAJE Conference, and the ACDA National Conference. Michele's educational book/CD sets, "Vocal Improvisation" and "Jazz Singer's Handbook"are available worldwide. Her new book/CD Set, "Jazz Piano Handbook"(Alfred Pubs.) was released in January, 2008.

Robin Cohn is a veteran music industry professional and president of City Hall Records. City Hall began in Robin's San Francisco garage in 1973, expanding steadily to become a leading national distributor of hundreds of specialty labels, both domestic and international. From blues, jazz, urban, nostalgia, world, and yes, a cappella - including artists such as the Swingle Singers, King's Singers, Dale Warland Singers, the Bobs and SoVoSo - City Hall has built its success and reputation through supporting independent music.

Complete list of competing groups - 2009

The David Lichtman Award for Best Original Arrangement

Accommodation and venue info for out of town attendees

Previous Years Results:- 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001- 2000 - 1999 - 1998

Regional Champions: Boston | Chicago | Denver | Los Angeles | Mid-Atlantic | New York | Pacific NW | SF Bay Area

Our Hall Of Fame - The Harmony Sweepstakes National Champions

Watch the Champs on our YouTube channel

2009 Schedule:

Boston - March 21 Mid-Atlantic - April 4
Chicago - March 21 New York - March 7
Denver - March 21 Pacific NW - March 7
Los Angeles - April 4 SF Bay Area - March 14

National Finals - Saturday May 16, 2009

Interested in Competing?

We are always seeking groups who would like to compete in our events.

Groups of any style are welcome, but you must have between 3 and 8 members. We have a rule book which explains many of the details of the event, which you can see by clicking here. All groups must audition in order to compete. Generally this is done by sending a current tape and photo, although live auditions are sometimes arranged. The purpose of the audition is to make sure the group is appropriate for the Festival and to help the Director determine the performance order. If a group has competed previously, the audition process may be waived.

How to enter

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National Finals 2007

O Fortuna - Face
Bring Me Little Water, Silvie - Moira Smiley & VOCO
Steal My Kisses - DoubleShot
Rock Around The Clock - The Fault Line
Sugarcane Jubilee - Men in Black
Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing - V-Chords
Wade in the Water - Solstice
Szerelem - Moira Smiley & VOCO
Home - Face
Some Kind of Wonderful - The Fault Line
Run Around - Men in Black
Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident) - V-Chords
Defying Gravity Paul Wolf Nightwatch
Stand in that River - Moira Smiley & VOCO
The Lion Sleeps Tonight - DoubleShot
Enterprise / Sulu Medley - Hi-Fidelity
Kappee - Solstice
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - Nightwatch

On a perfect May Saturday night in San Rafael, CA, the sold-out audience witnessed another unbelievable evening of unaccompanied vocal harmony singing. Eight Regional winners were up on stage, singing their hearts out for the fans and the judges, with the National Championship on the line. The best 18 songs of the night, including from local favorites the folk/world female ensemble Solstice with "Wade in the Water" and the dynamic "Kappee." A pair of songs from Audience Favorites Denver's "Face," includes the gritty, powerful rocker "Home," that won them 2nd Place. Three tracks from the evening’s winners National Champs from Los Angeles, Moira Smiley & VOCO with the folk tune "Bring Me Little Water, Silvie," "Szerelem" and the lovely, moving "Stand in that River." Other favorites are New York's The Fault Line's "Some Kind of Wonderful;" the Pacific NW's V-Chords' "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing”, Boston's Men in Black's "Run Around" and Chicago's Nightwatch's very funny "Defying Gravity." And let us not forget host group 2006 Champions Hi-Fidelity (hey, that's 2 in a row for L.A.!), whose "Enterprise/Sulu Medley" reminds us how brilliant and funny they can be.

Listen to Home (Face) in Real Audio

2007 CD $14.98

Click Here for Past Recordings of the National Finals

2009 Schedule | Recordings | Previous winners | Rules | How to enter | Press Materials | Venue & Visitor Information

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