16th Annual

National Finals | Schedule | Recordings | National Champions | Rules | How to enter | About us

Events | Groups | Judges | Directors | National Finals Publicity Photos

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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.

2000 National Finals Champions

Toxic Audio

In 1998, Toxic Audio launched its quirky show in an abandoned storefront at the Orlando International Fringe Festival. To their amazement, people began cramming into that storefront to see them. The show caught the attention of Disney executives who hired them as featured performers at the Disney/MGM Studios. Soon after, the group was crowned champion at the National Harmony Sweepstakes in California.

In the year 2003, Toxic Audio's album, Chemistry was named "Album of the Year" by the Contemporary Acappella Society of America. The group has made national TV appearances with Ed McMahon and Wayne Brady, and even got to sing a reggae-style weather report on ESPN2's morning show "Cold Pizza". Toxic Audio won the 2004 Drama Desk Award for "Unique Theatrical Experience" for their Off-Broadway Show in New York's John Houseman Theatre where they continue to electrify audiences by exploring the boundaries of the human voice.

2000 Results
1st
Toxic Audio
2nd
Perfect Gentlemen
3rd
+4db
Audience Favorite
Exboyfriends
Best Original Arrangement
"20th Century Salute"
Best Original Arrangement
"Vincent"
Best Original Song
"Ultimate Pop Band"


2000 Participating Groups

+4db
+4db is an a cappella quintet who's sound is as diverse as it is smooth. With a repertoire that ranges from jazz standards to contemporary pop, +4db straight-up swings and surprises. Formed in 1996, this award-winning ensemble makes its home in the San Francisco Bay Area. 1998 saw them champions of the Harmony Sweepstakes San Francisco Regionals, where they also earned Best Arrangement for the second year in a row. Their local success harbingered national accolades, with their memorable sound securing Second Place and Best Arrangement at the 1998 Harmony Sweepstakes National Finals. Judges aren't the only ones who dig the delicious harmony of these five voices. +4db has also won Audience Favorite each time they've participated in Harmony Sweepstakes regional and national competitions. +4db released their eponymous debut CD to much fanfare just this January.

Listen to: Away | Listen to: I Could Write A Book

Members: David Duran, Michelle Ritche, Paul Cingolani, Jay Quibodeaux, Juliet Green
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Live Wire
LiveWire is the pre-eminent vocal rock sensation out of Atlanta, GA. Since 1998, these seven talented musicians have been thrilling Atlanta TV, radio and live audiences with their unique "rock-band-without-the-band" sound: they perform musically accurate arrangements of rock songs with only one instrument -- the human voice. Their shows combine jaw-dropping musicality, contagious high energy, and a pinch or three of wackiness. They have entertained thousands of people around the Atlanta area, appeared all over the Atlanta media -- from morning news magazine appearances on the local NBC and FOX affiliates to news appearances on FOX, CBS, and ABC to radio appearances on 99X (WNNX FM - Atlanta's modern rock radio station) and Magic 96.7 (WMKJ-FM) --and are just as comfortable performing in a raucous club setting as they are in an intimate corporate cocktail party.

Listen to: Zoot-Suit-Riot

Members: Michelle Arrascue, Jennifer Bond, Carl Christie, Benjy Rose, Jordan Small, Rob Sylvester, Kris Walker
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Chapter 6
The group's boundless range and appeal has resulted in one of the most diverse touring schedules in the music industry. Whether at an opera house, symphony hall, campus, church, corporate or community event, or aboard a cruise ship, Chapter 6 is right at home. Opera houses are often repeat clients, while the Association for the Promotion of Collegiate Activities' audiences named Chapter 6 "Entertainer of the Year" (2005). Chapter 6 has performed theatrical pops programs with over ten major metropolitan symphony orchestras in association with The Symphonic Pops Consortium, yet returns to the intimate classroom where the group has conducted over a hundred master-classes for high school choirs. Finally, their Christmastime concert is a favorite among churches and arts venues offering holiday programming.

Listen to: Jump Jive n’ Wail | Listen to: Istanbul

Members: John Musick, Jarrett Johnson, Brian Owens, Aarion D. Stonecipher, Charles Bosworth, Luke Menard
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Perfect Gentlemen
The Perfect Gentlemen provide the perfect blend of harmony and humor harkening back to the days of Vaudeville. Preserving America's great vocal sounds from a time when music was music, The Perfect Gentlemen recreate the close harmonies of such legendary groups as The Ink Spots and the Pied Pipers, while including the era's great comic songs made famous by the likes of Louis Jordan and The Hoosier Hotshots.

A typical performance by The Perfect Gentlemen includes marvelous melodious music mingled with masterful mirth, mischief, and merry-making. The group's versatility allows for effortless shifts between vocal styles with an air of ease, whether singing a cappella or accompanied by guitar or ukulele. Their signature piece, Salute to the 20th Century, is a humorous take on the de-evolution of music over the last century, illustrated by singing the same song in the style of Barbershop, Dixieland, Blues, Big Band, Doo-Wop, Bluegrass, Disco, Techno Punk, and Rap, complete with visuals that delights audiences of all ages time and time again.

Listen to: Style | Listen to: A Salute To 20th Century Music

Members: Dan Jordan, Tim Reeder, Mike Economou, Jim Campbell
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Toxic Audio
In 1998, Toxic Audio launched its quirky show in an abandoned storefront at the Orlando International Fringe Festival. To their amazement, people began cramming into that storefront to see them. The show caught the attention of Disney executives who hired them as featured performers at the Disney/MGM Studios. Soon after, the group was crowned champion at the National Harmony Sweepstakes in California.

In the year 2003, Toxic Audio's album, Chemistry was named "Album of the Year" by the Contemporary Acappella Society of America. The group has made national TV appearances with Ed McMahon and Wayne Brady, and even got to sing a reggae-style weather report on ESPN2's morning show "Cold Pizza". Toxic Audio won the 2004 Drama Desk Award for "Unique Theatrical Experience" for their Off-Broadway Show in New York's John Houseman Theatre where they continue to electrify audiences by exploring the boundaries of the human voice.

Listen to: Route 66 | Listen to: The Water Is Wide

Members: Rene Ruiz, Jeremy James, Shalisa Sloan, Michelle Mailhot, Paul Sperrazza
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Exboyfriends
Formed in 1993, the seven-member vocal band started their humble journey in small NYC music clubs and worked their way up to win the Audience Favorite Award at the 2000 Harmony Sweepstakes national finals in San Francisco. Along the way, they appeared on VH1, Nickelodeon, TNN, NBC's Today Show as well as several appearances on The Howard Stern Show. They performed regularly at NYC rock club Mercury Lounge and their classic rock roots even earned them opening act slots with the likes of The Marshall Tucker Band and The Edgar Winter Group.

Their debut CD, A Cappella's Dead (1999) was called the "classic rock album a cappella has been waiting for" (Recorded A Cappella Review Board). The album features inventive covers of Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Yes, and Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight". Their follow-up CD Karaoke Bar Brawl (2002) gained even more praise. Produced by Rockapella vocal percussionist Jeff Thacher, the album was nominated for two Contemporary A Cappella Recording Association (CARA) awards: Best Album and Best Cover Song ("25 or 6 to 4") and was one of RARB's "Picks of 2003" for favorite albums of the year. Karaoke Bar Brawl (named after a true event involving several band members) features loud & raw covers of The Who, Alice In Chains, Queen as well as two original songs.

Listen to: Ramble On | Listen to: A Phloyles Thing

Members: Brian Reichelt, David Curry, David Kern, Ari Pickart, Jeremy Lipkin, Jeff Leibert, Xerxes Ecclips
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Total Experience Gospel Choir
Total Experience Gospel Choir, (Pacific NW) under the direction of its founder and director, Patrinell Wright, bursts with love, joy and enthusiasm humanity! It is hailed as one of the Paciifc Northwests finest and most soulful ensembles. The group began in 1973 in SE Seattle, the heart of one of the nations most diverse neighborhoods. Today’s choir is of all ages.

Listen to: The Lord’s Prayer | Listen to: Pass Me Not

Members: Patrinell Wright, Gena Brooks, Tanisha Brooks, Mary Brooks, Lulu Strange, Tessa Studebaker, Leah Vladowski
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All Star Vocal Band
In 1995 the All-Star Vocal Band began rebuilding their vocal ensemble around the talents of the two exceptional voices of Jackie Farrell and Rita Dean. With the addition of seasoned a cappellans, tenor, Jimi Alexander and, baritone, Tony Huerta and the continuing participation of, bass, Norm Silver, the All-Star Vocal Band has moved forward to bring a new style and a fresh perspective to the group's sound. Powerhouse percussionist, Zach Freeman, adds the drive and the beat to make the new All-Stars really rock.

Listen to: Don’t Stop Believin’ | Listen to: I Wish

Members: Norman Silver, Tony Huerta, Jimi Alexander, Zack Freeman, Jacklyn Farrela, Rita Dean
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2000 Judges

Marco Cassone   

Marco Cassone brings a colorful palette of talent and experience to the judges table. A renaissance man at heart, this Seattle-ite has appeared in numerous theatrical and television productions and has been featured on dozens of studio and commercial radio recordings. Marco's professional career as an entertainer took off when he started his own Children's Entertainment business while juggling his degree in the Psychology of Music. In between magic shows, balloon sculptures, and Power Ranger impersonations that eventually took him across Europe, this Los Angeles native found a passion for jazz and classical vocal performance and studied theory and arranging with Grammy nominees, Phil Mattson and Roger Treece. Marco is most proud of his role as a founding member of m-pact (1996 National Harmony Sweepstakes Champions). In addition to maintaining a year-round, international touring and recording schedule, Marco acts as Business Director for the band and offers his consulting services to a cappella groups of every level (contact business@m-pact.com for more information). This year, Marco will celebrate his 1,000th performance with m-pact.

Phil Debar   

A Barbershop Harmony Society contest judge, chorus director and itinerant baritone, Phil hosted local acappella radio shows on KRCB Santa Rosa ('95-'03) and KKUP Cupertino ('85-'04); and was co-founder (with Deke Sharon and Buddy Saleman) and host of CASA's "A Cappella Radio International" from 1996-2002. He also hosted the week-long video-webcasts of the barbershop international championships (2000-05). Phil started in a cappella with the Stanford Mendicants ('78), subbed in Chanticleer in '84, earned 3 Down Beat jazz "dee-bee" awards in the Foothill College Fanfairs ('86-8), and has sung in four Northern California champion barbershop quartets.

Raz Kennedy   

In the realms of vocal performance and singing instruction, Raz Kennedy has created a legacy for over 40 years that rivals the music industry’s finest. Acknowledged as “the premiere vocal coach in the Bay Area” by Narada Michael Walden (multi-platinum Grammy and Emmy winning producer and musician)his eclectic performance credits include serving as a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra and performing as a background vocalist on recordings for many legendary artists, including Whitney Houston and Al Jarreau, as well as on stage for Sting, Santana, and Mickey Hart.

His depth of knowledge and expertise has positioned Raz to instruct a diverse roster of musical luminaries, from members of Metallica, to Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind, Hilary Duff, Davey Havok of AFI, members of Los Tigres Del Norte, the late Clarence Clemons from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and many more.

In addition to his thriving private practice, Raz is an active faculty member at Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco, one of the Bay Area’s most prestigious music study institutes. Throughout his career, Raz has served as a guest instructor at SF Jazz, Jazz Camp West, Stanford Jazz, GRAMMY in the Schools, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, West Coast Songwriters, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School for the Arts, and various music education programs in Latin America and Europe.

Kirby Shaw   

Kirby Shaw has made a major impact in choral music education and has shared his musical expertise in 45 states, Canada, Australia, the Bahamas, China, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, Latvia, and the Philippines. Kirby has degrees in Music Education and Choral Composition from San Jose State University and a DMA degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington.

Dr. Shaw’s teaching is infused with a sense of humor and breadth of knowledge that is transmitted in an exciting and highly contagious manner. Kirby taught in the Mt. Shasta public schools before joining the faculty at College of the Siskiyous in California where he founded and directed the innovative and highly acclaimed COS Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Kirby has scatted one-on-one with such notables as Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Jon Hendricks, Mark Murphy, Greta Matassa, and Chris Calloway.

He has overseen the creation of hundreds of educational recordings, five college and university albums and two solo CDs. A composer/arranger with nearly 3000 choral compositions/arrangements in print, Kirby’s music is sung around the world and has sold over 20 million copies. He has many commissioned pieces to his credit, including one for The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This creative and prolific output has resulted in numerous ASCAP awards.

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.

Complete list of 2000 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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