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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 Finals Champions

MAXX Factor

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.

2009 Results
1st
MAXX Factor
2nd
Love Notes Quartet
3rd
Rezonate
Audience Favorite
Love Notes Quartet
Best Original Arrangement
"Book of Love" - Jason Caffarella, Rezonate
Best Original Song
"The Future Part 2" - Richard Steighner, Mouth Beats


2009 Participating Groups

Cartoon Johnny
Cartoon Johnny is an energetic vocal band that pushes the limits of traditional a cappella. Drawing on influences from classic soul to modern alternative, they've crafted an exciting sound that is often mistaken for an instrumental band - but it's all vocal.

Based in the Washington DC area, Cartoon Johnny performs a variety of sure-fire audience favorites and their own original music, bringing audiences to their feet show after show. They are two-time National Harmony Sweepstakes finalsists, winning the title for the Mid-Atlantic Region in 2005, and in New York in 2009.

Cartoon Johnny has shared the stage with some of the best in a cappella and beyond. Highlights include headlining ACappellaFest Detroit in 2010, and performing with Marvin Hamlisch in his Christmas special at the Kennedy Center in 2008. Hamlisch invited the group to join him for his July 4th concerts in San Diego in 2009.

Listen to: Only You | Listen to: Bless the Broken Road

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

MouthBeats
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.

Listen to: Tron | Listen to: The Future Pt. 2

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

Our Town
Comprised of four men with championship ranking in both the Barbershop Harmony Society and a cappella circles, OUR TOWN won both the prestigious Harmony Sweepstakes (the oldest a cappella competition in America) and Barbershop Harmony Society Northeastern Districts in 2009.

Known for their "big sound" and pure style of harmony, the quartet recently appeared at the iconic New York City nightclub, Birdland. Intent on singing familiar songs for the enjoyment of varying audiences - college students to traditional song buffs - OUR TOWN boasts a repertoire reflective of musical tastes ranging from contemporary up-tunes to nostalgic ballads.

Members: Scott Brannon, Terry Clarke, Larry Tully, Jamie Carbone
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Rezonate
The premiere a cappella group from the Willamette Valley, Oregon, the gentlemen of Rezonate sing R&B, Gospel, Pop, Soul, Jazz, Funk, and even some Hard Rock, including deftly arranged covers and original songs. The group started singing together as Rezonate in December 2004, and have sung at many venues since. At the Harmony Sweepstakes National Finals in May of 2009, Rezonate won both Third Place and the coveted award for Best Original Arrangement. With thick, lush, true six and seven part harmonies and a difficulty level second to none, Rezonate can evoke the smooth sounds of the Four Freshman, the Funk flavor of Rare Earth, or the pop excitement of acts like Bruno Mars and Kelly Clarkson.

Listen to: Ghost Train | Listen to: Book of Love

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

3 Men and A Melody
Start with two music educators, add one preacher, stir in a financial planner, and you could have the basic ingredients for any barbershop quartet. But 3 Men & A Melody is not your basic quartet. Tenor, Rob Mathieu, 2nd generation barbershopper, is a Kansas City based children's musician/performer. Not only does he teach preschool music, he performs interactive musical kids shows under the alias, Rockin Rob, geared for children 2-10 years old. Eric Derks leads the foursome musically but admits that telling jokes is not his forte. Brian Bellof is a second generation barbershop bass with a natural ability for showmanship. Baritone, Brad Stephens is the out-of-control comic of the four who keeps 3 Men & A Melody's audiences laughing.

3 Men & A Melody love what they do and have a high respect for the barbershop style. Their talent, energy, and enthusiasm are truly exciting for everyone to watch. 3 Men & A Melody's love of performing continues to escalate every day in hopes that they will be known throughout the Barbershop Harmony Society and the United States for their fun-filled entertainment and singing excellence.

Listen to: What I Like | Listen to: Route 66

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

MAXX Factor
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.

Listen to: Brand New Day | Listen to: Don’t Break the Heart

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

Love Notes Quartet
LoveNotes competed in Harmony Sweepstakes a cappella competition in 2009 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco where they won 1st place and also received the award for Best Original Arrangement for Bohemian Rhapsody. They went on to compete at the Harmony Sweepstakes Nationals where they placed 2nd while also winning the Audience Favorite award.

n the Fall of 2013 LoveNotes was crowned the 2014 International Quartet Champion 'Queens of Harmony' at the Sweet Adelines International Quartet Competition in Honolulu, Hawaii. They were also chosen as winners of the Celebrity Award by Neyla Pekarek of The Lumineers. LoveNotes has had the opportunity to perform all over the world and they have also released 5 CDs

Listen to: Bill Bailey Medley | Listen to: Bye Bye Norman

Members: Mia Dessenberger, Stephanie Lawson, Brittany Gilmore
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Evolution
Evolution is an all male Vocal Rock Band, based on the Westside in LA. Together, these gentlemen use lyrical, 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"!

Listen to: Angel | Listen to: Book of Love

Members: Ken White, Michael Maury, Jim Campbell, Rolland Lopez, Rono, Jamie Paisley, Adam Croce
More Details

2009 Judges

Craig Knudsen   

In 1999, Craig Knudsen founded the talent agency, Knudsen Productions, and it quickly became one of the most highly regarded US agencies representing vocal ensembles (both national and international). His agency’s current roster features two recent Harmony Sweeps National Champions: Women of the World (2014) and Six Appeal (2012) – Grand Prize Winners of the 2018 A Cappella Moscow International Championship. Additional past and current representation includes the multi Grammy Award winning British a cappella legends, the Swingle Singers; the multi Grammy nominated British early music vocal ensemble, Stile Antico; the SF Bay Area’s beloved women’s vocal ensemble, KITKA; the legendary BOBS! (also Grammy nominated); The Choir of Clare College Cambridge; The Marian Consort, and Modern Medieval. For 11 years Craig also served as the music director of the Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre Project. In 2014, Craig was the recipient of the Arts Northwest “Coyote Award”, an award recognizing his “outstanding service to Arts Northwest and the western performing arts field”.

Craig is best known in the a cappella world for his 18 years of touring as a Singer / Composer / Arranger with the EDLOS (the 1989 Harmony Sweepstakes National Champions). A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (vocal performance), 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, in addition, Craig has performed as a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus. After a long hiatus from the opera stage, Craig has returned to perform roles in 3 current Pocket Opera Productions. Craig originally came to the SF Bay Area in 1982 to join the San Francisco Mime Troupe as a sax player/music director/composer/actor, and toured extensively with the Troupe in the U.S. and Canada. Before joining the Mime Troupe, Craig was the sax player with the R&B Hall of Fame artist, the Marcia Ball Band (Austin, TX).

Claytoven Richardson   

Claytoven has worked on hundreds of projects throughout his 30-year career. Constantly in demand as one of the top session vocalists, his voice can be found on albums featuring GRAMMY winning artists such as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Kenny G, Mariah Carey, as well as, on popular video games like Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore (Versions 1 & 2). His work on the number 1 song for Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On" (also the title track for the Titanic soundtrack) won him Grammy recognition in 1999. As a songwriter, Claytoven has also written for and produced artists such as Patti Austin, Young Jeezy, Al Jarreau, Lisa Fischer, Charlie Wilson, and many others.

But as busy as he is, Claytoven always makes time for educating others. “I feel it is my responsibility to pass on my knowledge to young musicians just as it was passed on to me.” And with that as his mission, Claytoven has stepped into the role of author by taking his years of experience and sharing them in a book entitled, “The Professional Studio Vocalist”. Currently, Claytoven also teaches this subject and other professional music courses at San Francisco State University, in their Music Recording Industry Department. He also teaches and is the Program Director for an incredible new facility-program, The Digital Arts and Culinary Academy (DACA) in Oakland, California.

Michelle Weir   

Michelle Weir is one of the leading figures in vocal jazz today. She has earned international recognition through a diverse set of talents as arranger, teacher, singer and pianist.

Michele's vocal arrangements are performed by The Manhattan Transfer, New York Voices, M-Pact, Beachfront Property, Chanticleer, Voice Trek and her orchestral works played by the Boston Pops, the Buffalo, Cincinnati and Pacific Symphonies, and others. Michele's educational arrangements are distributed by various publishers, including her own online publishing company, MichMusic. She was Vocal Producer for the Manhattan Transfer.

Currently serving on the faculty of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Michele taught previously at USC, CSU Long Beach, and the Phil Mattson School. Highly respected as a teacher and clinician, her work has taken her to more than 22 countries around the globe.

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." Michele is a member of S.A.G., A.F.T.R.A., A.S.C.A.P. and N.A.R.A.S.

Robin Cohn   

President of City Hall Records. City Hall began in Robin's San Francisco garage in 1973, expanding steadily to become the leading national independent wholesale 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, the Bobs and SoVoSo - City Hall has built its success and reputation through supporting independent music.

Complete list of 2009 participants




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Interested in Performing?

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

Groups of any style are welcome, but you must have between 3 and 12 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

Please send music and photos to the regional director :


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