29th Annual

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

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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.

2013 National Finals Champions

Honey Whiskey Trio

Honey Whiskey Trio blends sounds and styles from folk, bluegrass and jazz. This trio found its roots in the vocal jazz department of CSU Long Beach where the members all studied with Christine Guter, though at different times. Years later, well into their own careers as musicians and educators, the need for a new outlet for musical exploration brought Courtney, Ann and Christina together and the Honey Whiskey Trio was formed.

2013 Results
1st
Honey Whiskey Trio
2nd
Lustre
3rd (tie)
Fermata Town
3rd (tie)
Rainbows
Audience Favorite
Honey Whiskey Trio
Best Original Arrangement
"I Feel Good" arr. The Rainbows
Best Original Song
"Starting Line" - Fermata Town


2013 Participating Groups

Ro Sham Bo
Ro Sham Bo is named after a popular hand game often used as a selection method in a similar way to coin flipping or drawing straws to select a person for some purpose. When Ro Sham Bo tours in Japan or Brazil, we're called Jan-Ken-Pon, but Philippinos call us Jack-n-Poy because they're cool. In England we're called Scissors-Paper-Stone because there's no Rockhenge, silly. In South Africa, the mildly offensive Ching-Chong-Cha. In Latvia we're called Akmens, skeres, papirits because of the catchy rhyme, "Akmens, skeres, papirits, viens, divi, tris." Caligula called us Saxum-Charta-Forfex, but in those days forfex beat everything because of the excitement over the newly invented scissors. Biologist Barry Sinervo from UC Santa Cruz discovered the Ro Sham Bo evolutionary strategy in the mating behavior of the side-blotched-lizard species Uta stansburiana. When we're not drinking during rehearsal, mating or playing Ro Sham Bo, we sing nicely.

Members: Bonnie Doyle, Audrey Kauffman, Lilan Kane, Seth Herring, Ben Fendel, Ryan Tomko
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Fermata Town
Founded in 2009, Fermata Town is now the newest member of the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL). Inspired by the wealth of new talent in the a cappella world, we have worked hard to find our voice and put a unique stamp on the Boston a cappella scene. We pride ourselves in our original arrangements, the sound that we produce, and our ability to maintain a healthy balance between our music and active lifestyles.

Fermata Town was officially founded during the spring of 2009 stemming from the break up of the all male Boston based group The Testostertones (Boston). The founding duo of Dan Campagna and John Baptista recruited former Testostertones Dave Carr and Nathan Pierce to join forces and find other interested singers who shared the same passion for a cappella music. Be it through word or mouth, internet advertisements and craigslist posts - Fermata Town was able to quickly establish itself as one of Boston's freshest co-ed a cappella groups to hit the streets.

Members:
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Cat's Pajamas Vocal Band
The Cat's Pajamas are 5 men who creates all the sounds of a band using only their voices. The group was formed in 2005 by Brian Skinner and Nate Mendl who both share a passion and drive for performing and music production. The two had previously worked together in college groups at The University of Wisconsin such as the Wisconsin Singers and a cappella groups the MadHatters and Redefined. The first time The Cat's PJs ever performed together was for the 2005 Oreo Cookie Jingle competition. They then recorded a demo and searched everywhere for gigs until their first big break when they were offered a 6 month stint on Celebrity Cruise Lines as the in house a cappella group.

Members: Brian Skinner, Nate Mendl, Nate Adams, Mike Hilliker, Brad Baker
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Honey Whiskey Trio
Honey Whiskey Trio blends sounds and styles from folk, bluegrass and jazz. This trio found its roots in the vocal jazz department of CSU Long Beach where the members all studied with Christine Guter, though at different times. Years later, well into their own careers as musicians and educators, the need for a new outlet for musical exploration brought Courtney, Ann and Christina together and the Honey Whiskey Trio was formed.

Members: Courtney Gasque, Ann Louise Thaiss , Christina Wilson
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Lustre
Lustre is a lovely award winning quartet out of the Baltimore area. Lustre's musical adventures began in 2005, and what a journey it has been! Kate, Lori, Lori, and Jenny met through Harbor City Music Company Show Chorus, and have been ringing chords together ever since. They have wowed their audiences at performances and contests around the country, from shows in Maryland, DC, and Pennsylvania to international competitions in Houston and Denver. You may even have seen them singing at a Baltimore Orioles game or two! Lustre is proud to be the 2013 Sweet Adeline's International 7th Place Quartet Finalist.

Members: Lori Crouter, Lori Dreyer, Jenny Harris, Kate Morrical
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Rainbows
The Rainbows is a group from Quebec City started in 2007, comprised of six professional signers. The six voices brought together forms en explosive sound full of rich harmonies. They take their inspiration from Jazz, Pop music and always surprise their public with original arrangements that come to life after several jam sessions. Why are they called ''The Rainbows''? We'll let you figure it out.

Members: Julie Vandal, Genevieve Paré, Hera Menard, Alexandre Hudon, David Latulippe, Nicolas Grynzspan
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Rezonate
Rezonate The premiere a cappella group from Eugene, 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 rockin' edge of the Goo Goo Dolls, or the pop excitement of acts like Bruno Mars and Owl City.

Members: Tyson Biggerstaff, Jason T. Caffarella, Justin Diller, Chris Dobson, CJ Mickens, Jason Simms
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2013 Judges

Sunshine Becker   

Sunshine Becker (formerly Sunshine Garcia) is a singer, songwriter and vocal performance coach, who has been a 20 year member of the award winning vocal band and National Harmony Sweepstakes champions SoVoSo. She just recently came off 5 years of touring in the Grateful Dead spin-off band Furthur with Bob Weir & Phil Lesh. She leads her own solo project: The Sunshine Garcia Band & continues to teach vocal performance and stays busy doing studio sessions, CircleSinging and improvising in many other headlining jam bands. Sunshine lives and breathes a cappella. Her bassist husband and 7 year old son are wonderful enough to play along.

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.

Craig Knudsen   Knudsen Productions

In 1999, Craig Knudsen founded the talent agency, Knudsen Productions, LLC. With a focus on exceptional vocal talent, Craig quickly established Knudsen Productions as one of the most highly regarded US agencies representing a cappella groups, both national and international, working with top presenters in the performing arts market with regular bookings and tours at prestigious venues throughout the US and Canada. His agency’s current and past representation of vocal ensembles includes the 2015 GRAMMY winning choir, Conspirare; the multi Grammy Award winning British a cappella legends, the Swingle Singers; the multi Grammy nominated British early music vocal ensemble, Stile Antico; the Bay Area’s favorite women’s vocal ensemble, KITKA; the legendary BOBS! (also Grammy nominated); the 2012 Harmony Sweeps National Champions, Six Appeal; Decca recording artist, VOCES8; and, most recently, the 2014 Harmony Sweepstakes National Champions, Women of the World. Before embarking on his career as an agent, Craig served as the music director of the Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre Project, and, additionally, spent 18 years as a singer / Composer / arranger with the EDLOS a cappella quartet (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. 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).

Katy Leaver   

Katy Leaver attended the LAB, Broadcasting School in Hollywood, graduated and was offered a job at KKGO (America’s Jazz Station) in Westwood, California. After two years at KKGO where Katy anchored the morning news and worked as a Jazz DJ in the evenings, the Bay Area where she grew up, beckoned her back. She was hired by KGO Radio to fill in for well-known traffic helicopter reporter, Lu Hurley. She fell in love with chopper reporting and worked in the bright red jet copter for 12 years, winning numerous reporting awards along the way. In 1998 she was hired by ABC-7 but after a year of television Katy was lured back to KGO Radio, and offered a position as the weekend news anchor, and weekday breaking news reporter at the number one news station in Northern California. Katy sings rock, blues and jazz standards with her band Go! Kat Go! and performs all around the Bay Area at clubs and parties.

Scott Mathews   

Music Producer, Composer, Arranger, Song Doctor, Multi–instrumentalist & Tiki God. PRODUCED, RECORDED and/or PERFORMED WITH:- The Beach Boys * The Blind Boys of Alabama * David Bowie * Zac Brown * Jimmy Buffett * Johnny Cash * Rosanne Cash * Glen Campbell * Eric Clapton * Elvis Costello * Ry Cooder * Robert Cray * Dick Dale * Dave Edmunds * Roky Erickson * Jefferson Starship * Jerry Garcia * Billy Gibbons * Sammy Hagar * Herbie Hancock * John Hiatt * John Lee Hooker * Etta James * Mick Jagger * Booker T. Jones * Patti Labelle * Huey Lewis * Nick Lowe * Taj Mahal * The Mamas & Papas * Steve Miller * Eddie Money * Van Morrison * Aaron Neville * Roy Orbison * Van Dyke Parks * Steve Perry * The Pointer Sisters * Bonnie Raitt * Joey Ramone * Keith Richards * Todd Rundgren * Carlos Santana * Joe Satriani * Boz Scaggs * Ringo Starr * Barbra Streisand * Allen Toussaint * Trip Shakespeare (Semisonic) * The Tubes * Joe Walsh * Robin Williams * Carl Wilson * Brian Wilson * Bobby Womack * Stevie Ray Vaughn * Dwight Yoakam * Neil Young....

Complete list of 2013 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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