2014 Participating Groups
|The T Sisters|
The T Sisters are an authentic family band based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Rachel, Chloe and Erika Tietjen are all songwriters and switch off on lead vocals. While their voices blend seamlessly, each has a distinct singing and writing style. The combination results in an eclectic repertoire unified by a landscape of close harmonies. The group's subtle throwback aesthetic calls to mind classic trios past, from the Andrews Sisters and 1960s girl-groups to the sirens from the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Anchored by influences spanning folk, country, gospel, klezmer and early-90's R&B, each sister brings a unique vocal and lyrical style to a sound that is at once modern and timeless. Though the T Sisters sing and perform often with instruments, they are known to silence a crowd with their soulful and enchanting a cappella numbers.
Members: Erika Tietjen, Rachel Tietjen, Chloe Tietjen
| Loose Interpretations San Francisco|
Hi we're the Loose Interpretations! We are an all-female a cappella group based in San Francisco that's been performing all over the Bay Area since 2004. We mostly sing arrangements of pop covers, though our repertoire spans several decades and musical genres...from Gershwin to Annie Lennox, Simon & Garfunkel to Madonna, Stevie Wonder to The Postal Service, and even a little Bon Jovi. (Yep, Bon Jovi. May he forgive us.)
Members: Morgan Muir, Rachel Fiske, Karyne Levy, Rosemarie Kizeik, Sara Maamouri, Bineti Vitta, Jenna Weiner, Susan Kimberlin
Smorgaschord draws its name from ancient runic inscriptions of abundant food and music, the combination of which may lead to harmonic indigestion. We entertain at events around the Peninsula, including summer festivals, coffee shops, rehab centers, and occasionally, the checkout line of supermarkets. We could be right behind you in line. Look for the shoppers with a wide variety of musical styles and poorly-balanced nutritional choices. Hey, where did you find that bacon-flavored chocolate? Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and get your shopping cart harmonized.
Members: Bill Anderson, Larry Hamel, Valerie Rose, Patti Schank, Mia Whitfield, Harold Zable
| Prime Time|
The members of Prime Time met through singing with other groups. They recognized they had kindred voices, natural blend, and the same desire to sing challenging, tightly harmonized charts - and also the inclination to laugh a LOT while working hard. Their backgrounds range from vocal jazz to collegiate-style a cappella pop to barbershop, with those influences all audible simultaneously in most of their performances. A literal garage band, Prime Time rehearses in Sunnyvale, CA, and performs all over the Bay Area.
Members: Jennifer Ayre, Caia Brookes, Dan McQuigg, Wil Mathews, John Rae-Grant
The Riveters is one of the newest all-female vocal groups to hit the a cappella scene. Based out of Oakland, CA, The Riveters had their live debut last June at SheSings Women's A Cappella Festival and were received with acclaim. In September 2013, The Riveters were nominated for an A Cappella Community Award in the category of "Favorite Newcomer Group" and one of their singers/arrangers, Lisa Forkish, was nominated for "Favorite Arranger." In addition to receiving praise from the a cappella community, U.K. soul artist Laura Mvula shared The Riveters' cover of her song "She" and exclaimed, "Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh wow!"
Coming from various high school, collegiate and pro groups including 'Til Dawn, Vocal Rush Divisi, Noteworthy, Ro Sham Bo and The Backbeats, this fierce fivesome is armed and ready to bring their fresh, soulful sound into the world. Collectively, members of The Riveters have won a CARA Award for "Best Soloist," lead groups to win the ICCA/ICHSA Finals, competed on The Sing-Off, recorded vocals for Karaoke Revolution and Guitar Hero, and co-founded the Women's A Cappella Association.
Members: Lisa Forkish, Moorea Dickason, Courtney Wofford-Jensen, Sarah Vela, Stevie Greenwell
| Business Casual|
Business Casual is a five-person powerhouse performing a wide range of genres including funk, folk, pop, soul, and R&B. Their diverse musical backgrounds each lend something unique to the group. Fueled by a highly combustible mixture of hunger, talent, and passion for music, Business Casual brings the formal and the funk, the heart and the smart. Their recently released EP, "Eyes on Me" is available on Loudr, iTunes, and Spotify, and through their website: www.BCvocals.com.
Members: Bakari Holmes, Danny Olefsky, Ryan Cook, Tina Query, Cassie Greene
| 38th Ave|
Take a left, then turn right, here they are: it's 38th Ave! 38th Ave is a local a cappella group that started on the beautiful beaches of Santa Cruz. This group of friends, with a love for anything a cappella, sings a wide variety of music from top 40 hits to standard jazz to smooth indie. You might find them in Santa Cruz on the streets downtown, in coffee shops, or even at your local bar. After being together for a year, they are excited and ready to sing!
Members: Devon Magana, Danny Cavero, Adam Fixler, Jefferson Lam, Amanda Ross
| Halfway to Midnight|
Halfway to Midnight is a co-ed band of musical misfits who, having missed the thrill of the a cappella world and desiring an outlet to strengthen our individual instruments, serendipitously found each other in the midst of the great big beautiful Bay Area and begun gathering weekly to share and enjoy the blend of our voices together. Upon securing our 6th and final member in the summer of 2013, Halfway to Midnight started exploring song options and fine-tuning our sounds to begin performing for the public, professionally entertaining, recording and possibly even competing in the future. We are a diverse group ranging from a high school chemistry teacher to a software engineer, a stay-at-home-mom to a doctor of psychology. Our life stories are as varied as our voices yet we find common ground in our love of instrument-free music-making and we truly hope you like what you hear.
Members: Elana Zizmor, Jeff Faulk, Gonzalo Alonzo, Michael Barrientos, Michael Stanton
Hearsay is a Sweet Adeline Quartet. Forming up in the fall of 2012 these four experienced singers all hail from the SF Bay Area and have a knack for upbeat, fun music. Debi Thomas is a Law Office manager, Cheryl McCarthy is a clerk for the Alameda Superior Court, Wendy Gibson is an attorney and Alisa .... she dated a lawyer once! You'd be surprised at the sound these legal eagles can make.
Members: Debi Thomas, Cheryl McCarthy, Alisa Peters, Wendy Gibson
Your Emcee for the Evening
|Angie Doctor, a studio singer and live performer who began her career in Chicago doing commercials, voice-overs and recording projects, and has been a part of the San Francisco Bay Area vocal music community since 1995. She is currently teaching vocal jazz classes as an Artist-in-Residence at the Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts high school, the Jazz School in Berkeley, California, and in Fall 2015, will be the Vocal Jazz Ensemble instructor at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley.
Angie is a song-writer and arranger, vocal coach and clinician for school music ensembles and solo singers, background singer for groups such as The Manhattans, Heatwave, Gene Chandler, Barbara Lewis, Billy Paul, and many others, studio singer and voice-over talent, is the soprano in the jazz vocal quartet Clockwork and is currently in the wackiest of all a cappella groups, The Bobs. In addition, she has been singer and soloist for music projects with Bobby McFerrin, Sufjan Stevens, Sweet Honey in the Rock, John Zorn, Meredith Monk, performing at venues that include Zellerbach in Berkeley, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Philharmonie Berlin. Her vocal work can be heard on many recording projects, including as a featured soloist on the Grammy-nominated recording of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” (Harmonia Mundi),
Angie is also a founding member of the Grammy-nominated PM Singers and has brought her extensive experience in solo and small group harmony singing to workshops and festivals as a judge and clinician over the past eighteen years.
||Betsy Blakeslee World Harmony Chorus |
Betsy Blakeslee directs World Harmony Chorus in Oakland and Instant Choruses in the SF Bay Area. Her warmth and enthusiasm encourage choristers to hear more in the music and to experience the magic of singing with others.
Betsy's first public recognition as a young musician was on a television show in Buffalo, New York called Fun to Learn Music. Decades later, she directed Balkans YouthLink Voices at the State of the World Forum and UN Millennium Summit in New York City. She led the Betsy Blakeslee Youth Chorus in San Francisco Bay Area performances with Kitka and Women in Black, and directed singing groups for refugee children in Bosnia and Croatia during the wars of the 1990s.
Betsy taught all the voice classes in the Storytelling Certificate Program at Dominican University in San Raphael, California. She coaches public speakers and storytellers, aspiring singers, and select piano and music theory students.
|Amber Morris Amber Morris Voice Coaching
Amber’s appreciation of music inspired her to pursue a career in both the artistic and technical side of singing. She has been performing as a lead and background vocalist for over 35 years, and has had a well-established voice studio for the past 14 years in San Rafael, CA. She has performed on CD, TV and/or DVD releases for such luminaries as Huey Lewis & the News/Soulsville, Tommy Castro/Hard Believer, AXS TVs Concert Ronnie Montrose Tribute Band DVD with Eric Martin, Sesame Street, King of The Hill. Live show support includes Eric Martin Band (Mr. Big), Y&T, Dave Jenkins & Cory Lerios of Pablo Cruise, Sammy Hagar, Lara Johnston Band featuring Tom Johnston and members of the Doobie Bros., Shaka Ra & the World Pop Machine with Zairian superstar Shaka Ra Mutela and more. Presently Amber can be seen singing with SoulJah Family Band and Eric Martin Band, Amber is vocal coach/producer for SanRe Entertainment.
Amber and guitarist husband Tal “TMo” Morris are the proprietors of Ice House Studios in San Rafael, the location of Amber Morris Voice Coaching, a destination for singing talent in the San Francisco Bay Area.
||Eric Morris |
Eric Morris is a founding member of the renowned male a cappella quartet, the EDLOS, and sang first tenor with them for over 20 years until their retirement in 2011. In their first year of existence the EDLOS won first place and audience favorite and Mr. Morris also won that same year for best original arrangement at the Harmony Sweepstakes. Eric has been a tenor soloist with such diverse groups as the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet, Pocket Opera, Marin Opera, Canada Opera Piccola, the Lamplighters, and many others. A graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Eric was the tenor soloist for the first annual Sing-it-Yourself Messiah at the SF Opera House. Fifteen years ago Eric became a faculty member at Notre Dame de Namur University, teaching private voice lessons, vocal performance, opera workshop, computer music applications and music skills lab. He has won awards for his compositions as well, and is an avid bicyclist, accordionist, tennis player, banjo player, horticulturist and Chapman Stick player.
|Jan Pederson Schiff
Jan Pedersen Schiff, is a master vocal teacher and choral conductor with Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Music Education, Choral Conducting with Vocal Pedagogy emphasis. She founded Singers Marin, a nonprofit performing arts organization some 30 years ago, that now supports 7 choral ensembles for youth and adults. The teen chorus, les etoiles, has traveled extensively and won 1st and 2nd place, bronze, silver, and gold awards at numerous international festivals.
Guest conducting opportunities have included the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Her awards include the Susan B. Anthony Award for Cultural Achievement in Hollywood, the Marin Women's Commission Certificate of Commendation, and a Milley Award for her contributions to the creative life of Mill Valley. She’s been inducted into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame, and most recently received recognition from Mark Levine of the California State Legislature for 30 years of service to the community of Marin. Ms. Schiff will be returning as a Guest Artist to Carnegie Hall next month on April 28th, as part of MidAmerica’s 35th Anniversary Concert Season, conducting “Frostiana” by Randall Thompson with a 150 voice choir and orchestra.
||Todd Wedge San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) |
Todd Wedge received his BM in Music Education from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and furthered his study with a MM in Vocal Performance and Literature from the Northwestern University School of Music. In his collegiate years he was the fortunate recipient of awards from the Friends of Austria Lieder Competition, American Opera Society, Bel Canto Society, and the Loretta Kearns Award for Excellence in Music Education. While living in Chicago, he frequently was featured as the tenor soloist in the oratorio works of Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Bach, and Mozart, while simultaneously maintaining a private studio and teaching courses in vocal health and pedagogy at the University of Notre Dame. During this time Mr. Wedge also served as a young artist with the Chicago Opera Theatre, after which he was invited to join the GRAMMY award-winning men's ensemble Chanticleer. It was during an outreach choral festival with Chanticleer that Mr. Wedge met and fell in love with the San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) and its heroic mission. Immediately after his farewell concert with Chanticleer, he joined the SOTA faculty and is honored to serve as their director of vocal music. Mr. Wedge maintains a private vocal studio in San Francisco and is frequently seen as a guest conductor and clinician in the Bay Area.
Complete list of 2014 participants
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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
How to enter
Please send music and photos to the
regional director :
John Neal (Bay Area)
Beginning as a local event the Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, under Neal’s guidance, has grown to become the most significant live showcase for a cappella music in the nation and attracts hundreds of groups and thousands of audience members every year. The Harmony Sweepstakes was the original inspiration for the NBC prime time series The Sing-Off and Neal was hired as a consultant to the series. Neal is president of Primarily A Cappella - (www.singers.com) which is the nation’s leading vendor of a cappella music including recordings, arrangements, DVDs, songbooks and instructional material for singers. Neal writes the informative blog at www.acappellanews.com which has a large and loyal readership.
PO Box D, San Anselmo, CA 94979
festival (at) harmony-sweepstakes.com