2011 Participating Groups
In a world where anything is possible—except female groups lasting more than three years—Traces is an all-female quintet that has managed to survive for FIVE years and counting. Yay!!! With their expansive vocal range, vocal dynamics, tight harmonies, “female bass” and hard hitting percussion, this NY based group offers a variety of musical styles and continually push the envelope of female vocals. Their wide range of musical influences—Gospel, Contemporary Christian, Pop, R&B, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Spirituals, Caribbean and African, just to name a few—has lead them to create a unique style all their own. Over the years, the group has had some amazing experience including performing in churches, colleges, prisons, festivals and the Harmony Sweepstakes competition. Traces looks forward to continuing our journey and seeing you in March.
Members: Cindy Valerus, Keesha Gumbs, Sherene Campbell, Gbianka Kotee, Tamika Gumbs
Six-man vocal band Six13 brings an unprecedented style of Jewish music to the stage. With songs that range from hip-hop dance tracks to rock anthems, their albums have been the recipients of five Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards and selections to nine different "best of" compilations. This summer, they were chosen as finalists in the casting process for NBC's prime-time series The Sing-Off, and the group has also become an internet sensation, with over 500,000 views on YouTube; their new music video collaboration with NCSY recently went viral. Six13's recent performance highlights include the Chabad Telethon, NYC's Mayoral Chanukah party, and performances for 30,000+ at Citi Field (five times), Dolphin Stadium, Madison Square Garden and NYC's Salute to Israel Parade. They are currently touring to standing ovations at simchas, affairs and concerts at synagogues, schools and JCCs from Tucson to Toronto.
Members: Mike Boxer, Eric Dinowitz, Oren Malka, Robert Operman, Justin Rosenblum, Alan Zeitlin
Founded in 2001, The MetropoliTones is a New York City based a cappella group composed of graduates from the Seven Sisters colleges. When not working our day jobs (running conferences, crunching numbers on Wall Street or digging for fossils), we can be found adding musical pizazz to corporate, private and sporting events in the tri- state area. The MetropoliTones have performed at Cipriani, The New York Athletic Club, The Bitter End, The Pierre Hotel, Ronald McDonald House, The Bronx Zoo, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, Madison Square Garden, Prudential Center and Giants Stadium.
Members: Lisa Bianco, Christina Friberg, Carolyn Kiel, Allison Lee, Kate Marvin, Dana Van Brunt, Eliza Ruth Watson, Abigail Wolff
What happened when a few recent college grads moved to the Big Apple, and felt lost without their former a cappella groups? Empire was formed! A new addition to the NYC a cappella scene, Empire held their first official rehearsal in September, 2010. Focusing on music of all genres, Empire is comprised of young women in their 20s who hail from across the country. After long days working with kids, criminals, celebrities and computer files, the ladies of Empire love nothing more than rehearsing together and performing for their supporters.
Members: Erica Meyer, Anna Smith, Rachel Tombes, Holli Matze, Sarah Jensen, Anna Concepcion, Melina Marini, Angela Ugolini
| In Harmony|
In Harmony is without a doubt New England's premier oldies vocal group. This sweet sounding vocal ensemble, comprised of two guys and three girls. has worked with such legendary Doo-Wop acts as Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge, The Drifters, The Platters, The Dimensions, The Dubs, The Tokens, Lou Christy, Randy and The Rainbows, and The Jive Five. With numerous radio shows and White House performance for President Bill Clinton under their belts, In Harmony are excited to bring their vocal stylings to the Harmony Sweepstakes stage!
Members: Dee Heavrin, Robin Miller, Adrienne Lisko, Scott Poarch, Lenny Seiter
| Lai Skan|
This vocal group from Latvia is an eclectic mix of friends ranging in age from 17 to 23, and each a musical instrumentalist as well as vocalist. Even so, they have different life styles, as some are still in school while others are graduated with interests in veterinary medicine and business management -- but music is the common thread that has kept them together for many years. Regarded as renowned vocalists in their native Latvia, and winners of many competitions in Europe, It has been their biggest dream to perform on an American stage. Lai Skan is excited to have their dream become reality at the 2011 Harmony Sweepstakes In NY!
Members: Anete, Ginta, Arno, Gatis, Janis, Edgars
| One Guy Upstate|
One Guy Upstate is what happens when collegiate, frat-style a cappella guys grow up -- or, perhaps, refuse to. Individually, the members of this all-male vocal band have performed hundreds of shows, but first met back in the day at Binghamton University, where they made multiple visits to the ICCA Finals as members of the Crosbys. Still great friends and reunited a few years later for the sheer love of making great music together, they hope to acheive similar success on the professional stage at the Harmony Sweepstakes.
Members: Jesse Afriyie, Mike Boxer, Brian Frankel, Al Orbinati, Angel Reynoso, John Soto, Di Zhang
The Perspective is a five-man vocal band, blending Pop, Rock and R&B on a daily basis, with absolutely no instruments. Bringing together the best traditions of the five-man sound, THE PERSPECTIVE builds a bridge from the classic sounds of the 50's and 60's to the modern era of rock and R&B. Formed in 2009, and proud to call New York City our home, THE PERSPECTIVE has performed at listening rooms around New York City including the legendary Bitter End, the National Underground, and Millesime Salon at the luxurious Carlton, NYC. We are stoked to make our debut at the Harmony Sweepstakes Competition! .
Members: Damon Maida, Jack Holahan, Doug Paulson, Joe Dunham, Aaron "AB" Belinfanti.
| State of Mind|
State of Mind is a subset of NYC's recently formed Empire A Cappella. Since September these young women have focused on combining their musical abilities with a bit of style and sass. Having just completed a Boston winter tour filled with joint gigs, collegiate appearances, and some aca-bonding, State of Mind is happy to be back in NYC, much looking forward to their spring line-up, and of course, participating in their first Harmony Sweepstakes Festival!
Members: Cecilia Kelly, Sonia Ahuja, Jenn McCarthy, Anna Smith, Erica Meyer, Holli Matze, Rachel Tombes, Cara Joyce
| The Glue|
For the past thirteen years the "Swiss band without instruments" has been enthusing their audience. These 5 young men have already produced four albums, a DVD, and have been on stage over six hundred times all over Europe. March 2011 marks their first trip to North America as they travel to the US and to Canada to perform their original compositions to enthusiastic audiences; whether it be country or latin, East-European gypsy tunes or african tribal sounds, there’s no genre they can't do!
In addition to original music, The Glue astounds with their unconventional performance and choreography in all types of settings, from Private and intimate in small theatres, to bombastic on the big stage. Notable highlights thus far have been as Swiss support at the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany, being honored and performing live concerts on Swiss Radio DRS, and selling out concerts at the theater in Basel, Switzerland. In november 2010 they received the cultural award of the canton Basel-Landschaft and qualified out of 500 groups for the swiss finals of the Eurovision Song Contest, where they placed 5th. Currently touring Europe and North America with their current program, "Kin' de Lele", The Glue are charming crowds all over with their comical, unusual, yet always entertaining musical performances.
Members: Gregor Beermann, Michael Moor, Jonas Goettin, Tumasch Claluena, Oliver Rudin
Your Emcee for the Evening
|Jeff Lagraca is a writer, director, actor and improviser residing in New York City. He has studied and worked with Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond, Adam McKay, and several other entertainment notables while honing his theatre, comedic and musical skills. He is a writer/creator of “Minimum Wage,” a musical which made it’s Off Broadway debut in New York City at the Bleecker Street theater at 45 Bleecker in 2007. Minimum Wage was also presented at the 2002 & 2006 FringeNYC festals where it received the Producer’s Award and “Outstanding Musical Comedy " by BackStage magazine. Jeff is a huge fan of acappella music and continues to write music and play with his own Nerd Punk band, H2Awesome."
||Debbi Burdett |
As a director, performing artist, and professional consultant through her company, DB Creative Consulting, Debbi Burdett is currently involved in the marketing and website design for NOT YOUR TIME, a short film featured at numerous film festivals, and a similar project with A JOURNEY TO JOY, a CD of spiritually engaging songs. Her directorial credits include - The Dysfunctional Pianist, Three Guys, Three Girls and A Diva, Take Five, Take Five More and numerous cabaret and nightclub acts. She has been the director of The WestSide Youth Choir, which was heard in the feature film HOUSEHOLD SAINTS. She has been featured in numerous musicals and plays, most notably as Cleo in THE MOST HAPPY FELLA, the Soprano in Terrance McNally's PRELUDES and Ruth in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE and Katisha in THE MIKADO. Additionally, Debbi is very proud to have coached NY Harmony Sweeps competitors, Dobosonfly, and Stay Tuned, who placed 3rd at the 1999 competition. Debbi has performed to wildly enthusiastic crowds in her one woman show throughout the United States. Her work continues to be a dedication to Bob & Eugene: "They continue to teach me all I know."
|Gerard Brown III
Gerard Brown III is a screenwriter and former writer in residence with the New York Shakespeare Festival. He has written a number of screenplays and teleplays for the likes of Paramount Pictures and HBO among others. However, his most gratifying artistic accomplishment was PBS's Spike & Co: Do it A Cappella which he conceived, wrote, and co-executive produced and shot at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
||Jonathan Minkoff |
Jonathan Minkoff is the Founder and Executive Producer for the Public Charity, SingStrong (SingStrong.org) and its International A cappella Festivals in NY, DC and Chicago. He performs world-wide and on TV with the award-winning a cappella quartet, Blue Jupiter. Minkoff holds a Bachelors in Music Ed. from Northwestern U., a certificate in voice study from the Boston U. Tanglewood Institute, and a JD from Boston U. School of Law. Minkoff won the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes 1st place and audience favorite and the Chicago & National Sweeps' "Best Original Composition" and "Best Arrangement Awards", shared a "WAMMY" nomination for "Best Album", a CARA nomination for "Best Jazz Album" and a WAMMY win for "Best A cappella Album". Most recently, Minkoff coached Stiletta, the current National Harmony Sweeps champions, and the only group to ever win every possible award at nationals. He has over 300 published a cappella reviews at RARB.org and his articles at ACAPPELLA101.com have thousands of views monthly. After teaching, performing, emceeing and judging at over 40 a cappella festivals worldwide, Minkoff now coaches, composes, records and produces for various a cappella groups in his New York City recording studio.
Mark Paul is an accomplished a cappella performer, music director, vocal coach, and lifelong musician. A 39-year member of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), he is the former bass singer of a top-20 International-level a cappella barbershop quartet, Reveille, that for nine years regularly entertained audiences across the United States and internationally. Reveille holds a quartet championship in the BHS six-state Mid-Atlantic District. He served for seventeen years in top musical leadership positions for gold and silver internationally competitive BHS choruses and was the front-line Musical Director of a BHS District level chorus. He has performed in a documentary film about barbershop singing and on two music albums. An a cappella vocal coach for 34 years, Mark works with individuals, quartets, and choruses, and has served as faculty on several a cappella music education programs, both domestically and abroad. Mark is a Reiki Master, certified to use healing energy to help remove blockages and assist in correcting imbalances, and he also works as an Executive Leadership Development Coach. He integrates his leadership development and Reiki work into his vocal coaching, guiding people on an energetic level to reach higher degrees of musical awareness and achievement. Mark’s favorite downtime activities are surf fishing and camping.
||Diana Preisler |
Diana Preisler is a Singer, Voice-Over Actress, and Performance Coach. As Blue Jupiter’s resident a cappella rockstar, her voice defies categorization, spanning Broadway, jazz and pop. As a prolific voice actress, her voice is heard on national commercials and TV shows. And, as a performance coach, her voice is a call to action, encouraging and inspiring the next generation of performers to greatness.
Diana tours the world as Blue Jupiter’s fearless female lead. More than just a powerful voice on stage, Diana also manages and coaches her professional a cappella band. Her leadership spear-headed Blue Jupiter’s rise to fame by winning the Oreo Cookie commercial contest, produced by American Idol’s Randy Jackson. Diana’s management led Blue Jupiter to six tours in Asia, including a 3-month headlining spot at the Sands Casino in Macau China, a residency at the Shanghai American School, and a celebration of Independence Day by singing for 10,000 US soldiers in Okinawa Japan, on July 4th. Thanks to Diana’s guidance, Blue Jupiter has thrived as headliners at corporate and private events, fairs, music festivals, universities and recurring headliners for Royal Caribbean.
Complete list of 2011 participants
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We are always seeking groups who would like to participate
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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 :
Colette Thompson (New York)
Colette Thompson has directed or performed in over eleven vocal ensembles, with her group, Stay Tuned, placing 3rd in the 1998 New York Regional of the Harmony Sweepstakes; Colette has performed/recorded with Lukas Foss, Leonard Bernstein, Jesse Norman, Peter, Paul & Mary, and James Levine A billboard-ranked singer/songwriter, she has also managed several events, including, Christmas at NYU, Complex at the Duplex, and An Evening with The Real Group at NYC's Symphony Space. With performances televised via major news programs including Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, and NY1, she is a promoter, producer, adjudicator and an ambassador of vocal music worldwide.
128 Fort Greene Place, Suite 1B, Brooklyn, NY 11217
colette.thompson (at) mac.com