15th Annual

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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.

1999 National Finals Champions

Naturally 7

The origins of the group date back to New York City in 1999 when Roger Thomas started the group with his brother, Warren, and five other talented singers they had come to know over the years from singing around the city. Having been in and out of several traditional male groups over the years, Roger developed an affinity for a cappella sounds and a unique ability to create distinct harmony arrangements. When invited to sing at a major a cappella competition in New York, they won the competition, moved onto the nationals and took away two more wins.

Riding the wave of this newfound success and still unable to decide if Naturally 7 were going to be an a cappella group or a traditional band, Roger had a novel idea: they could be both.

1999 Results
1st
Naturally 7
2nd
The Standards
3rd
Minimum Wage
Audience Favorite
Minimum Wage
Best Original Arrangement
"Bridge Over Troubled Waters"
Best Original Song
"So Far" arranged John Milne
Best Original Song
"Ultimate Pop Band"


1999 Participating Groups

Euphorics
The Euphorics (U4X) are a joyous, energetic a cappella quartet, who, since 1983, have been delighting audiences internationally on radio, television, and concert stages, at schools, festivals, and special events of all kinds. Individually, members of the Euphories are powerful lead singers. Joani Bye (alto), fronts her own band, the Homewreckers, and her voice has graced countless albums (including those of Bon Jovi, David Bowie, INXS, and Cher). Helen Davis (soprano) leads her own jazz quartet and has backed up Doug and She Slugs, and Kathi Hof Donald. Bing Jensen, bass, long-time Vancouver performer, winner of the 1993 CARAS award for best children's album and the West Coast Music Award for Best Children's album in 1998. David Steele, tenor, is a singer songwriter who has worked with numerous internationally recognized artists. Together, they create a rich and soulful blend with a repertoire of top-notch originals and innovative arrangements of covers in a wide variety of styles. The Euphorics celebrate their passion for music with plenty of humor and dynamic audience interaction.

Listen to: Message In A Bottle | Listen to: I Sing Low

Members: Nathan Aswell, Bing Jensen, Helen Davis, Joani Bye
More Details

Pickup 6
At the crossroads between swinging jazz, sultry soul, and upbeat pop, Pickup 6 delights and entertains audiences with a high-energy a cappella sound. Since 1996, we have journeyed down the musical highway, constantly straddling the double- yellow line between sophistication and fun. Most of our arrangements are by members of the sextet, including standards like "Route 66," blustery, heated ballads like "Fever," or more off-beat fare like "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "Cool" from West Side Story. Performing at jazz clubs and private parties, or spending long nights rehearsing or producing new arrangements, we find joy, challenge, companionship and inspiration in our singing.

Listen to: Route 66 | Listen to: Beatles Medley

Members: John Paquette, Adam Scotville, Valery Northrop, Kirsten Findell, Lisa MacAlaster, Christian Nolen
More Details

Chicago Voice Exchange
CVX is an entertaining award-winning five-member a cappella group based in Chicago. CVX is a three -time winner of the Midwest Harmony Sweepstakes competition, and has entertained crowds at venues such as sports events (Cubs, Sox and Bulls games, the World Cup), holiday events, festivals, industry conferences and bake sales.

One of the first actions of the group was to argue long and hard about what the name of the group should be. There were a whole host of possible names: WeWopDoo (from Peter Harlan, master of cheese), New Caboose, Vox Populi, Digital Voice Exchange, Five Guys named Moe, etc. Eventually, a compromise was reached with Chicago Voice Exchange. Hurrah.

Listen to: Underdog | Listen to: Mary Don’t You Weep

Members: John Milne, Joe Dennis, Tim Eaton, Andrew Blendermann, Bryan Chadima
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Ja’a
When you think of Ja'a, think deep, "funkafied" harmonies. These six gentlemen give you the power and the blend of soulful music that settles into the heart. Their vocal sounds give a smooth and sophisticated flow to all the songs that they touch. These brothers of harmony have continued to move beyond the boundaries of contemporary sound displaying their musical influences from jazz, R&B, contemporary a cappella, funk, pop, and gospel. The members of Ja'a share the vision of transcending the conventional barriers in music and are prepared for "Just About Anything," the operative theme which characterizes their music, attitudes, personalities, and the essence of Ja©ˆa. Since their origin at UCLA back in 1995, Ja'a has been acclaimed for their complex harmonies, a knack for vocal instrumentation, and a flair for appealing original arrangements. Their sophisticated sound is a testament to the heart and soul that they invest in their music and performances. Showcasing their versatile style, this sextet has performed from Vegas to LA, San Diego to the Bay and Asia soon on the way. Their spirit and belief in their dream has led to the release of their second CD "Outside the Lines". This group of friends looks forward to sharing their gifts with all who will listen.

Listen to: Ja’ackson | Listen to: Hands To Heaven

Members: Francis Alcantara, Roger Mationg, Lars Sahanaja, Paul Santos, Mike Trias, Mikey Whitfield
More Details

Minimum Wage
Minimum Wage is a group that can only be described as inventive, insane and delightful! Picture the Marx Brothers, Forever Plaid and the Flying Karamozov Brothers rolled into one. Por example, one might witness a lecture on Spatula techniques that goes hilariously awry. Or a capricious, musical history lesson about the "'Histoire du le Burger." Or even a rap number with wildly eclectic choreography. They won a Bistro award for Outstanding Musical Comedy Act by BackStage Magazine and in 1999 they were chosen as the Mid Atlantic Harmony Sweepstakes Champions and went on to win "Audience Favorite" in the National Finals. They can be seen pseudo- regularly on the Food Network's, Doorknock Dinners and other TV appearances include The Fox Network, Comedy Central, Good Day New York, The Veronica Network and America's Funniest People(Grand Prize Winners).

Listen to: The Last Cowboy Song | Listen to: Patty Duke

Members: Jeff Lagreca, Brad Barton, Charlie Lagreca, Sean Harris
More Details

Naturally 7
The origins of the group date back to New York City in 1999 when Roger Thomas started the group with his brother, Warren, and five other talented singers they had come to know over the years from singing around the city. Having been in and out of several traditional male groups over the years, Roger developed an affinity for a cappella sounds and a unique ability to create distinct harmony arrangements. When invited to sing at a major a cappella competition in New York, they won the competition, moved onto the nationals and took away two more wins.

Riding the wave of this newfound success and still unable to decide if Naturally 7 were going to be an a cappella group or a traditional band, Roger had a novel idea: they could be both.

Listen to: Bridge Over Troubled Water | Listen to: Bless This House

Members: Roger Thomas, Warren Thomas, Dwight Stewart, Garfield Buckley, Roderick Elderidge, Marcus Davis, David Laroche
More Details

The Standards
True that it is rare to find such a talent like this among five brothers. A brotherhood that is sure to inspire, motivate and entertain anyone. The Standards - Music for everyone. The human voice, that's how it all started for five brothers who shared a passion for music. Singing together at an early age, they began the makings of this one of a kind vocal group, forging a relationship beyond brotherhood and taking harmony to perfection. Today, they are known as The Standards.The Standards have taken vocal music to a new dimension by creating their own unique style of music with an infectious harmony that speaks to all generations and cultures of music lovers.

Listen to: Lean On Me | Listen to: I Believe

Members: Jordon Williams, Morgan Williams, Nicholas Williams, Nathan Williams, Quinn Williams
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Octane
They first formed in 1994 as an octet with piano accompaniment while students in the School of Music at Northern Illinois University. They released their first CD, "High Performance" in this format and became strictly a cappella in 1996. Their local performance experience includes 2 summer retreats for the American Choral Directors Association, 4 performances of the National Anthem and half time shows for the Chicago Bears, second place in the 1997 Midwest Regional Harmony Sweepstakes, summer festivals throughout the midwest, guest entertainers for the Miss Iowa pageant, and many concerts and workshops at schools throughout the area. They performed as representatives of Softline, Inc. at the Sapphire '98 trade show in Los Angeles and were the resident a cappella ensemble from January to July 1998 aboard Celebrity Cruise Lines in the Caribbean and Alaska. Their second CD, "Grand Slam" was recorded while on board. They can also be heard on a Baker and Taylor Entertainment Services christmas compilation CD along with artists Kenny Rodgers, Michael Bolton, James Galway, and Vanessa Williams. They will return to Celebrity Cruises in May of 1999.

Listen to: Baby I’m With You | Listen to: Bring Him Home

Members: Sean O’Connor, Eathan O’Connor , Jason Bayale , Kevin Schoenbach , Tyler Ball
More Details

1999 Judges

Steve Baker   

Steve Baker has been the Executive Director of the Freight & Salvage since 1996. Since its founding in 1968, the Freight has been a leading presenter of a cappella music—perhaps, as some have described, "the home of Bay Area" a cappella.” Groups who have performed there include The House Jacks, Bobs, M-Pact, Kitka, Hookslide, Edlos, Da Vinci's Notebook and many others. Before joining the Freight family he worked in the nonprofit arts sector as an attorney and a program administrator and attorney. In addition, Steve plays guitar and performs regularly with his musical cohorts at clubs and private events throughout the Bay Area.

Charles Eisler   

Charles Eisler is one of San Francisco's leading producers and managers of live theatre. Mr. Eisler has produced Beehive the 60’s Musical Sensation in Las Vegas, Detroit, Houston, Fort Worth, San Jose, and Phoenix, and on a 70-city national tour. In San Francisco, productions include the Cole Porter musical revue Cole, Forever Plaid, and Noises Off that toured to many West Coast cities. Mr. Eisler has acted as general manager for Sylvia, Free Food, Together Again, starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, Night Dreams, and Tunnel Rats. Mr. Eisler owned and operated the Mason Street Theatre in San Francisco, where Shear Madness played for four years, and the Union Square Playhouse, which housed the comedy hit Late Nite Catechism. On Broadway, Mr. Eisler produced the Alan Jay Lerner musical, Music! Music! He general managed the national tours of Man of La Mancha with Richard Kiley, and Fiddler on the Roof with Hershel Bernardi; The Abbey Theatre; the Shenyang Acrobats, and the Wushu Martial Arts Exhibition from the Peoples’ Republic of China; The National Theatre of Greece; The National Folk Theatre of Ireland; and the Gavella Theatre of Zagreb. Mr. Eisler is currently co-writing a new musical that uses the words and music of Cole Porter.

Gunnar Madsen   

Gunnar Madsen is an award-winning composer, actor, singer, and writer. He is perhaps best known as founder, songwriter and performer with the internationally acclaimed a cappella group The Bobs. Their first album, released in 1984, led to a Grammy nomination for Mr. Madsen. Since then, The Bobs have released five more albums with Gunnar and he has received seven consecutive ASCAP songwriter's awards for his work. His two recent solo releases on G-Spot Records, "Spinning World: 13 Ways of Looking at a Waltz", and "The Power of a Hat" continue his unique ways with music. As a composer and songwriter/librettist he has received commissions from the Los Angeles Theater Center, the Oberlin Dance Collective, the Minnesota Opera, ISO Dance Theater, National Public Radio, and many others. He has written music for the feature films "Breaking the Rules" and "A Special Providence", and is a featured performer on the soundtrack of "At Play in the Fields of the Lord", in the National Geographic Special "Asteroids: Deadly Impact", and as the voice of Sammy Davis, Jr. in the HBO film "The Rat Pack". He is also the creator of the sound and music for the hit video game San Francisco Rush. Gunnar's performing highlights include appearances on the Tonight Show, the Smothers Brothers Show, and two award-winning hour-long specials on PBS featuring his music and performances. He has worked with a broadrange of performers, including Robin Williams, The Grateful Dead, Bobby McFerrin and Billy Crystal. He enjoys playing with his dog and his lovely wife.

Queenie Taylor   

Queenie Taylor is respected and innovative presence in the San Francisco music scene goes back to 1974, when she began a 16 year odyssey at Bill Graham Presents which involved advertising, marketing, entertainment acquisition, and venue and event management. Her experience as an independent producer since 1993 includes booking, promotion and event production.

She has produced such events as the San Francisco Symphony's Black & White Ball, Grace Cathedral's Spirit of the City Ball, Focus Magazine's Creative Achievement Awards, Anniversary Galas for Marin County, the Mill Valley Art Commission's Milley Awards and numerous corporate parties. She co-produced Gavin's SFO1, 2 and 3, music business conventions in San Francisco which featured three days of business panels and breakouts and four nights of events in 35 area nighclubs for over 800 participants.

Complete list of 1999 participants




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 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

Please send music and photos to the regional director :


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