10th Annual

Bay Area Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, acapella singing competition, san francisco

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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.

1994 Bay Area Champions


Mona, Martin, Mel and Vern, veterans of Corner Market, 1993 Bay Area Regional Second Place winners, are joined by Elisa Smith, to create the rockin' hot sounds of The Banned. With five of the best solo vocalists/composers/arrangers/recording artists from the South Bay and beyond, this sensational new a cappella machine will fire you up and melt you down with its incendiary, percussive arrangements of pop-rock originals and cover tunes.

1994 Results

Best Original Arrangement
Ravel's "Bolero"

1994 Participating Groups

About Face
AF is an a cappella quartet whose unique vocal blend and engaging stage presence make this group one of the most sought after acts in the Bay Area. They have been making a name for themselves through appearances on TV and radio, as well as capturing prizes for "Best Original Arrangement", and they were the Bay Area Harmony Sweepstakes 1990 Champions. Their varied repertoire includes works by artists such as Sam Cook, the Police and the Jackson 5, in addition to original songs penned by gifted writers Mat and Murray.Members: Murry Orrick, Stan Johnson, Mat Silverman, Laurie Jones

Mona, Martin, Mel and Vern, veterans of Corner Market, 1993 Bay Area Regional Second Place winners, are joined by Elisa Smith, to create the rockin' hot sounds of The Banned. With five of the best solo vocalists/composers/arrangers/recording artists from the South Bay and beyond, this sensational new a cappella machine will fire you up and melt you down with its incendiary, percussive arrangements of pop-rock originals and cover tunes.
Listen to: Rules
Members: Martin Puryear, Mel McMurrin, Vern Smith, Elisa Smith, Mona Dena

Boyz Nite Out
No Instruments? No Problem! Specializing in cover, pop and rockin' upbeat music, this high energy group combines all-vocal drums, guitars, and horns with smooth 5-part harmony to make you think there's an entire band on stage!

For over 14 years, Boyz Nite Out has traveled throughout the world appearing at major festivals, corporate events and private performances. The group has worked with such artists as Ray Charles, ELO, Jay Leno, Kool & the Gang and Michael MacDonald and has released 3 full length CD projects selling over 20,000 copies in the United States and Japan.Members: Tom Griffin, Bill Craig, Tony Ridenour, Mark Baldi, Dave Innes

The G-Notes
TGN, are brothers and sisters who began singing together 3 years ago because they were "bored". Due to the favorable responses received whenever they performed, they have decided to give this singing thing a try and let it take them as far as their talents will carry them. Members: Gariel Garth, Lathanyo Garth, Shannon Garth, Larenzo Garth

The Harmonic Convergents
Some thought they died in a bizarre gardening accident. Some thought they were stranded in a Turkish prison. But NO! The Harmonic Convergents are back! No Turkish prison. No accident. Just new outfits, new pets and a new album, "Plugged". You might recognize the Convergents from their appearance on World News Tonight after they won the Star Spangled Banner competition hosted by the Oakland A's in 1992. (Then again, you might not!). The Convergents boast an eclectic mix of material ranging from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody to Andrew Lloyd Weber's Phantom of the Opera.Members: Suszi Lurie, Hal Brunette, Keith Barlow, Jon Spencer, Kara Broderick

Johnny Vocal
A hot new a cappella group drawn from such Bay Area institutions as The Flips, The Del Becks and Max's Opera Cafe. In addition to entertaining audiences up and down the coast, JV has been featured in radio jingles, promotional videos and at corporate functions. Each member has a distinctive solo style, and together, they are one voice - creative in its inspiration and powerful in its execution. From Harrah's to Candlestick, from the World Trade Club to countless 16th birthday parties (each one is a special event!), they've unleashed a groovy style of a cappella which doesn't rely on tricks or fads--just precise, heartfelt song.Members: Kirk Livingston, Jacques Pryor, Brad Hopper, Tom Tucker

Mary Schmary

Mary Schmary are like a group of irrepressible friends: they are zany, infectious, and full of energy, and sometimes they drive you up the wall.

Hidden Agenda Items is an album that puns twill and tuille, sings about Babar the Elephant and parodies Peter, Paul and Mary by singing If I Had a Hamster. It combines moments of sweet music and true originality (Bug Girl) with an overdose of vocal takes, laughing-in-the-studio tracks and almost funny riffs. I bet they were funny if you were there, or part of a good-natured, drunken late-night collective. But before midnight, sober listeners end up missing out.

Members: Myriam Casimir, Marie DesJardins, Cynsa Bonorris, Michelle Long

Screaming Divas
Screaming Divas are: humorous feminine, ambitious, wary of categorization, in love with various men, incessantly dramatic, fashion conscious and well-accessorized, motivated by fear, indulgent in fabulous hair products, strange, exceedingly entertaining and they all have big feet. Oh, yeah, they can sing, too!Members: Pamela Nissley, Danielle Nice, Mary Ann Boyd, Lilli Oldfield, Tina Osinski

The Syrens are an all-female a cappella quartet based in the Bay Area. Its members are all currently music students at SFSU. This eclectic mix brings together a dynamic range of vocal styles, incorporating concise, horn-like harmonies, percussive textures, combined with soulful leads by each member. The Syrens perform a versatile and unique set of original composers combining soul, pop and jazz. Members include: Jessica Grace, Jenni Little, Christy Winn, Karina Schwartz. Members: Jenni Little, Christy Winn, Jessica Grace, Karina Schwartz

Vocal Underground
"A cappellafunksoulrockingospeljazz" is the only word that describes the VU, short of "amazing". Since 1992 this 6 person vocal ensemble has seamlessly blended their individual voices to create the unique sounds that set them apart from all other vocal groups. The diversity of the singers is immediately apparent just by looking over their song list. It features contemporary tunes and familiar favorites with a new twist. By the end of each set, you have been taken on a musical journey. Members include: Paul Culala, Brady Fishler, Sally Jackels, Andrew Smith, Amy Williams, Marcia VanDerVinne. Members: Brady Fishler, Sally Jackels, Paul Culala, Andrew Smith, Amy Williams, Marcia VanDerVinne

Vocolot takes its name from the English word "vocal" and the Hebrew word "kolot" meaning voices. Since 1988, they have been performing for audiences across the United States in English and Hebrew, with a sprinkling of Yiddish, Latino, Arabic and American Sign Languages. Vocolot draws upon ancient and contemporary sources that evoke the power of centuries of women's repertoire, primarily composed by Linda Hirschhorn, and mixes traditional modes with Folk, Jazz and Classical idioms to create an innovative sound. They are a California Arts Council Touring Artist and perform internationally, uplifting and enthralling audiences of all ages with songs of celebration, community and Jewish heritage.Members: Rosalino Glazer, Ellen Robinson, Abbe Lyons, Linda Hirschhorn, Naomi Winniwarter

1994 Judges

Ron Lakis   

Ron Lakis is an award winning video producer, director, and cameraman who owns and operates his own "Starrion Productions". Mr. Lakis is presently negotioating for the TV production of the Harmony Sweeps.

Julie Nicholas   

Julie Nicholas has been singing, performing and harmonizing since the early 1960s. Starting out in Southern California with a singing foursome she made her way up north to pursue her B.A. at UC Berkeley. Never losing sight of her musical passion, it wasn't long before Julie met Willow Wray and their long history as singing partners began.

After a year of performing together as a duo in coffee houses and local SF Bay Area clubs, Willow and Julie signed on as backup singers with Terry Garthwaite, lead singer for the nationally successful rock band Joy of Cooking. After her tour with the Joy of Cooking in the early 70s, Julie's strong vocal style was noticed by a Jazz/Rock group Small Change and they brought her onboard as a lead vocalist. Small Change featured cutting edge musicians led by guitarist/performance artist Paul Dresher. During this period, in addition to working with Small Change, Julie was a regular vocalist with Dick Oxtot's Golden Age Jazz Band.

Murray Orrick   

Murray Orrick has been singing for 28 years, specializing in lead and background vocal, guitar, mandolin, bass and harmonica. He recently released an album with his partner, Tommy Rox, entitled "Cabo". Many of yo will also recognize Mr. Orrick as of the dynamic members of the champion vocal group "About Face".

Ralph Pavone   

For the past eleven years, Ralph has been Artist Representative. He currently represents composers Gordon Getty, vocalist Weslia Whitfield, the hit musical revue Party of One and, those bad boys of a cappella--The Edlos.

Stan Sinberg   

Stan Sinberg is an award winning humor columnist for the Marin Independent Journal. He can't carry a tune unless he's in the shower - when he suddenly sounds like Pavarotti.

Complete list of 1994 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 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 be waived.

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 Nealís 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 nationís 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

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