29th Annual

National Finals | 2012 Schedule | Recordings | Previous winners | Rules | How to enter | About Us

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The Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, 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.

2013 Chicago Champions

Cat's Pajamas

Every once in a while, something special emerges onto the music scene - and with the arrival of The Cat's Pajamas, there is no doubt that this explosive 5-man vocal band is taking the world by storm. Forged out of funky beats and a strong a cappella background, The Cat's Pajamas have toured internationally for the past seven years, wowing hundreds of thousands around the globe and giving audiences the performance of a lifetime each night they take the stage.

2013 Results

The Cat's Pajamas
Phonic Uproar
Audience Favorite
The Cat's Pajamas
Best Original Arrangement
"Come Together" Arr. David DeVries - BeatVox
Outstanding Soloist
Alicia Strong & Sheila Wagner - Sunday Afternoon

2013 Participating Groups

BeatVox is a brand new ensemble made up of Chicago a cappella all-stars from groups like the X-Factors, Lake Shore Jive, and Voices in Your Head. They promise exactly what their name implies: a strong groove mixed with sparkling harmonies and tight vocal percussion that will leave audiences in awe. They strive to put an ambitious new spin on hits from recent decades and to steer away from traditional by-the-books a cappella. BeatVox intends to turn the Chicago a cappella community on its head and bring their city into the national scene.

Members: Melissa Shubalis, Will Kazda, Ross Hammond, Dave Thomases, David DeVries

Boomslang is made up of musicians who have been making a cappella music long enough to want to ditch the Lady GaGa medleys and one-hit wonders in favor of making music that moves them - music that speaks to and resonates within the hearts of each member. Their repertoire couples a heavy emphasis on great, thoughtful songwriting with the unrivaled communicative, emotive, and downright "human" qualities of the voice. The various members' pedigrees include time with the House Jacks, Ball in the House, Vocal Chaos, the Colorado Buffoons, and the University of Miami vocal jazz program, among others. Boomslang is based in Chicago's North Side.

Members: Tom Anderson, Blair Baldwin, Anthony Martucci, Elliott Robinson, Eric Spiegel

The Cat's Pajamas - Every once in a while, something special emerges onto the music scene - and with the arrival of The Cat's Pajamas, there is no doubt that this explosive 5-man vocal band is taking the world by storm. Forged out of funky beats and a strong a cappella background, The Cat's Pajamas have toured internationally for the past seven years, wowing hundreds of thousands around the globe and giving audiences the performance of a lifetime each night they take the stage.

Members: Brian Skinner, Nate Mendl, Nate Adams, Mike Hilliker, Brad Baker

The Innocent Men is a seven member a cappella group comprised of studs from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire's all-male choir, the Singing Statesmen. The group was formed way back in 1985 and has been running strong ever since. The Innocent Men have provided top-notch singing and below-average humor as entertainment to literally thousands, although not at the same time.

Members: Andrew Steffen, Ryan Simmons, Eric Conner, Dane Jaskowiak, Phil Reilly, Sebastian Armendariz, Mark Green

The Other Option - What do you get when you mix a teacher, a software analyst, a tax specialist, a sailing instructor, and a graphics artist? You get The Other Option!
The Other Option is a contemporary a cappella group that brings together the voice talents of Colin Gagnon, Ravi Manghnani, Eric Pantano, Matthew Porcelli , and Barry Rokusek. Formed in Madison, Wisconsin in early 2012, the group's eclectic sound mixes contemporary songs from the 70's and 80's, along with a dash of current music. Whether singing at open mics, birthday parties, or just out on the street corner, the group puts its emphasis on fun, harmony, and good music.

Members: Colin Gagnon, Ravi Manghnani, Eric Pantano, Matthew Porcelli, Barry Rokusek

Phonic Uproar - In the popular style of Take 6, Naturally 7, and the hit television show “The Sing-Off”, Phonic Uproar combines the a cappella sound with a showtime experience! Phonic Uproar, participants in the 2012 Chicago Regional Harmony Sweepstakes, is the latest gem of an act from the Dayton, Ohio area - the same area that gave the entertainment world: The Ohio Players , John Legend , Heatwave , Lakeside, Roger Troutman, Dave Chappelle, Slave, Shirley Murdock, and Zapp. One of the newest and more exciting vocal groups to come along, each member was vocally trained at the University of Dayton, with over 25 years of experience between them.

Members: Joey Saliba, Jelani Connally, Josh Forman, Trevor Rosenbaum, Connor Higgins, Justin Padmore, Garrett Woods, Tyler McCormack

Sunday Afternoon - Based in Cedar Rapids Iowa, Sunday Afternoon's (SA) distinguished sound comes from the diversity of each member of the band. We strive to perform high energy, family friendly shows and we pride ourselves in our ability to incorporate a wide variety of music genres into all performances, including but not limited to: pop, R&B, rock, techno and even a little country. SA has performed for hundreds of people at various state fairs, ball games, wine tastings, and concerts in Iowa as well as Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia. We aim for everyone to leave our performances satisfied.

Members: Stephen Banks, Sheila Wagner, Matt Bryant, Alicia Strong

Vocality is an a cappella quartet with a wide ranging repertoire from 60’s and 70’s classic rock tunes to gospel to musical theater to barbershop. They are an animated ensemble who love singing together and entertaining audiences with a passion for igniting the spark of music in young people everywhere.minded bands and organizations to perform and promote the art form of a cappella.

VOCALITY formed in January, 2007 and was immediately recognized as an entertaining quartet with flawless harmonies and exciting delivery. They were crowned District Champions in the Land 'O Lakes district of the Barbershop Harmony Society and quickly rose to the elite ranks of the Top 20 in the International Barbershop Quartet contest. Their debut recording was honored with two Contemporary A Cappella Recording nominations by the Contemporary A Cappella Society: Best Barbershop Album and Best Barbershop Song. In fall of 2011 VOCALITY released their second recording, Alleluia, which features gospel music.

Members: Jay Althof, Tony Blackwood, Tom Matchinsky, David Boyd

Your Emcee for the Evening

Andrew Blendermann mostly hangs out in piano bars (as a performer, not as a barfly), where his repertoire spans over 1800 songs. He entertains regularly at Big Shot in Arlington Heights, Mastro's Steakhouse in Chicago, and The Signature Room at the 95th. He spent a decade banging on grand pianos at Howl At The Moon in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Cleveland. He has played extensively at Villa Verone in Geneva and Elgin, Billy Berk's in Skokie, and Davenport's Piano Bar And Cabaret. Andrew has also been involved in the theater: onstage ("L.M." in Pump Boys & Dinettes - twice), offstage (music-directing Five Guys Named Moe at Drury Lane Evergreen Park), and in the orchestra pit (a year at the Marriott Theatre In Lincolnshire). As a vocalist, Andrew has directed several a cappella groups (including the "Navy Pier Players", using his own arrangements), and he is currently singing with Chicago Voice Exchange, three-time winners of the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes. Andrew also has produced the Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival (Chicago Regional) since 2001, and plans to continue his work behind the scenes. While living in Cleveland, he acted as music director for 1940's Radio Hour, Cabaret, Once On This Island, and Cleveland's first local production of Forever Plaid. He and his wife Shelly are raising a back-up band, including six-year old drummer Adam, and three-year old singer (or wailer) Samantha.


Freddie Feldman - Since 1998, Freddie Feldman has been the owner and chief engineer of the award-winning a cappella recording studio VOCOMOTION, based in Skokie, IL. He is the inventor of the Thumper Throat Microphone, the only microphone created specifically for vocal percussionists and beatboxers. Freddie is the producer of the SingStrong Chicago a cappella festival. He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (the Grammys), and holds two bachelor’s degrees from Northwestern University.

Mark Grizzard is best known to the Harmony Sweepstakes as the arranger for Chapter 6, three-time Chicago regional winners and National Champions in 2004. Throughout the last decade, the group has toured to over a thousand venues in 44 states, and tour highlights include a performance at the Kennedy Center and a video feature on American Idol. Mark’s arrangements have earned him several national awards, and he was songwriter and producer for Chapter 6’s CARA-winning album “Color by Number” in 2011. Mark is currently pursuing a master’s degree in music composition at Illinois State University, where he serves as a lecturer for music theory and arts technology courses. He is also music director at First Baptist Church in Peoria, IL and is a freelance writer, performer, and clinician. (If anyone’s asking, it’s not Mark’s fault that Chapter 6 rarely tours these days; it’s the other guys who went and had all those babies.)

Daniel Gregerman began teaching at Niles North High School in 1991. He directs five concert choirs, the advanced vocal jazz ensemble, "Take One", and teaches Music Theory. Prior to this, he was Choral Director and Assistant Band Director for the McHenry Community High Schools in Illinois. Mr. Gregerman has directed the Midwest GRAMMY® High School Jazz Choir for the NARAS, Inc., and the Illinois Music Educators Association District VIII & II Jazz Choirs. He is currently the Vocal Jazz Chairman of the Curriculum Council for IAJE, the IMEA District VII Vocal Jazz Chairman. He has also been the IMEA State Vocal Jazz Chairman. He has taught at Vandercook College of Music in their Summer Masters Degree Program, as well as various summer music camps. He has adjudicated contests and has worked as a guest clinician in several states. Mr. Gregerman has a Master of Music Degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan where he sang with the acclaimed vocal jazz ensemble Gold Company.

Judy Storey has been a professional vocalist in the Chicago area for over forty years, singing with jazz trios, big bands, pop/rock groups, orchestras, and the vocal trio, “Sweetening”. Live performance credits include singing background vocals for Celine Dion at McCormick Place and Carole King at the Lyric Opera House. Judy was a four-year member of the Lakeside Singers, a professional Evanston-based choir with a classical and pop repertoire. In 2010 she was part of the 100-voice choir that performed the soundtrack to “The Lord of the Rings” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. During years of studio singing, Judy’s commercial credits include McDonald’s, United Airlines, Budweiser, Pizza Hut, and many more. One of her original compositions, “Shipwreck”, appeared in Don Johnson’s film, “Cease Fire”, and she sang in background vocal recordings for the film, “My Best Friend’s Wedding”. Judy currently resides in the Chicago suburbs where she continues to sing and has a private vocal instruction practice.

Loren Shevitz is well-versed (and well-chorused?) in several styles of a cappella music. He has served as the director, producer, and primary arranger for Chicago’s premier Jewish a cappella ensemble Shircago, which was selected to appear on the first-ever Best of Jewish A Cappella album. He is also assistant director of the gold-winning men’s chorus New Tradition. Additionally, Loren and his father Henry operate the music arranging and transcribing company Cameo Lake Music, which has produced dozens of arrangements over the years. Their works have been performed by the Michigan Opera Theater, Fish N Chips A Cappella, and the internationally-renowned cantor Alberto Mizrahi. Outside of the a cappella world, he has been music director and pianist for the Young Actors Ensemble 2012 and 2013 productions of “The Music Man” and “Once Upon a Mattress”. Loren has also served in the professional High Holy Day choir at Anshe Emet since 2008. Loren earned his bachelor’s at the University of Michigan, where he was a founding member of the a cappella group Kol HaKavod, and his master’s at the University of Chicago, where he was a co-founder of the nationally-recognized a cappella group Voices In Your Head and the Russian folk choir Golosá.

Complete list of 2013 national participants


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National Finals Recordings

Interested in Performing?

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 CD 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.To apply for the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes, please download the two documents below (needs Adobe Acrobat)

Application Information - Info about the contest
Entry Form ­ fill out and send to the regional producer
More info go to www.blenderful.com/sweeps

Please send CD and photos to the regional director :

Andrew Blendermann is a member of Chicago Voice Exchange, three-time winners of the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes ('95, '97, '99). He decided to step behind the scenes of the Sweeps. CVX is still together, and performing all over the Chicagoland area. Andrew is also an accomplished solo vocalist and pianist, and he performs in piano bars, theaters, restaurants, cabarets, weddings and the occasional concert hall.

606 N. Wilshire Dr.
Mount Prospect, IL 60056

The Harmony Sweepstakes National A Cappella Festival
PO Boxs D,
San Anselmo CA 94979
(415) 455-8602


Regional winners win roundtrip airfare plus two nights accommodation in the San Francisco Bay Area to compete in the Harmony Sweepstakes National A Cappella Festival

A selection of compact discs from the Primarily A Cappella catalog

A $250 coupon from Discmakers

Complete List of Chicago Champions

Previous Chicago results - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998

The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts

The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie (NSCPAS) is a dynamic, two-theater complex located in one of the most vibrant communities in the country. The NSCPAS is home to three distinct resident companies: presenting organization Centre East, Inc, producing theater company Northlight Theatre, and the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra. The facility is also the performance home to the acclaimed Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra and hosts numerous other cultural organizations and special events each year.

The NSCPAS is located just off of I-94 (Edens Expressway) about 30-minutes north of Downtown Chicago. In addition to a diverse programming schedule, its proximity to Old Orchard Shopping Center, a wide range of excellent restaurants and plenty of free parking, make the North Shore Center a convenient and popular destination for entertainment. Yahoo map - Google map

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