1996 Participating Groups
| Ro Sham Bo|
Ro Sham Bo brings a surprising and exciting spark to the Bay Area vocal music scene. Ro Sham Bo's roots are steeped in jazz and funk, and their performances deliver an inspired blend of complexity and ease. Most group members are music educators or music educated, arrange, perform, and direct not only for Ro Sham Bo but for groups from San Jose to Black Rock City, and have taught students from Stanford University Jazz Workshop to Jazz Camp West to Blue Bear School of Music.
Members: Audrey Kauffman, Anna Prozinski, Arsinoe Bacogiannis, Will Flash, Tim Lukaszewski, Paul Kim
SoVoSo is a highly imaginative a cappella ensemble that sings a unique, rhythmic mix of jazz, gospel, world and R&B music, all rendered in their trademark improvisational style.
The SoVoSo repertoire consists of original compositions and other songs that present a global perspective, from Afro-Latin idioms to traditional funk and jazz arrangements. Two SoVoSo members (Joey Blake, past member, and current member David Worm) are current members of Bobby McFerrin's a cappella group, Voicestra, performing with him from 1993 to present.
Currently you will see David Worm, Sunshine Becker, Bryan Dyer and Zoe Ellis in this vocal band line-up, along with other great singers such as Nicolas Bearde, Ashling Cole and Vernon Bush. The SoVoSo family of singers continues to expand as this one of a kind musical project grows and flourishes.
Members: Sunshine Becker, Joey Blake, David Worm, Rhiannon, Nicolas Bearde, Melanie Rath
Apex is a harmony based vocal group, with the funky addition of vocal percussion. Influences included r&b, funk, and jazz. Don't be deceived - this is not your ordinary a cappella. Apex has performed at the San Jose Convention Center, Filipino American Music Tribute, Filipino American Collegiate Conference, Live & Direct, or many other venues in Northern California. They have also been on Pinoy Pa Rin and the Bruce Latimer Show. As Asian Americans, with their energetic style and charismatic stage presence, they offer a unique change to the mainstream audience.
Members: Andrew Gapuz, Anthony-Chris Lorenzo, Andre Silva, Errol Viral, Lawrence de Guzman, Leo Chan
Inspiracy was conceived in December 1993 as a lesbian and gay chamber vocal ensemble focusing on excellence in vocal production, expertise in musical ability, and depth of performance. Emphasis has been placed upon the spiritual values of the material performed. In the spirit of this vision, Inspiracy has performed for the San Francisco City/County Fair, John Sims Center for the Performing Arts, Kairos Support for Caregivers, the Source Center For Spiritual Growth and Development, the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco, and St. John's United Church Of Christ.
| Mama Sez|
Mama Sez is an a cappella vocal ensemble dedicated to experimenting with a variety of vocal styles and skills including vocal instrumentation and orchestration. All vocal arrangements are original with an emphasis on Jazz, gospel, and R&B. Their repertoire also includes rock, pop, folk, and blues. Their music is described as eclectic. They love a good rhythm, a memorable phrase, and music that transcend time and culture. Mama Sez group members believe that, like the spirit, the voice was meant to soar. When the spirits and voices of four friends get together, the sound produced is limited only by the margins of their voices and their combined imaginations.
Members: Michelle Shattock, Marleen Quint, Kathleen Baumgardner
| 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: Cynsa Bonorris, Myriam Casimir, Alyn Kelley, Desiree Pointer
| New Originals|
Former members of Quintessence, Table For Five, In The Buff, The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, and one aspiration have Banded together to form one unique sound. Their balance of humor, energy, and heart can be habit forming.
Listen to: Free | Listen to: Plastic Jesus
| Talk Of Da' Town |
The Bay Area's premier R&B/Motown/Doo-Woppers, capped off 195 with a 15 day tour of Spain, a gig with Patti Labelle, and the release of their debut album, after spending much of the year singing all over California (a four day gig in Chattanooga); and opening for Ray Charles, James Brown, Take 6, The Temptations, Tower Of Power and many others…I guess you could say they were busy. 1996 promises tours to Africa, Europe, a new all-Gospel CD (as The Mighty Prince Singers)…I guess you could say they'll be busy! Group members are: Paul Carrington, Carl Douglas, Stan Lockwood, Rayfield Ragler, and Doug Stepney.
Members: Carl Douglas, Paul Carrington, Stan Lockwood, Rayfield Ragler, Doug Stepney
||Mary Ellen Geist |
Mary Ellen Geist is an award-winning reporter at KGO Radio, San Francisco and ABC News. She is also a jazz singer and performed professionally with a band for ten tears. She began her singing career at the age of six with her family in an acappella group, performing in the Detroit area and at the annual national a cappella festivals called "Spring Sing".
|Welles B. Goodrich
Welles B. Goodrich is an artist and inventor who lives in the redwoods near Santa Cruz, California. Fifteen years ago, while working as a public radio volunteer (electrician), vague memories of his participation in a church choir stimulated collecting a cappella music from KUSP's extensive music library. This avid collector's passion turned into radio progamming, which gradually produced a series of semi-scholarly non commercial tape recordings, including countless discopraphies and notes, that have been shared all around the world. Mr. Goodrich has done critical and creative work as a writer for the CASA publications. He has also worked on several compilations of a cappella music which have been commercially released. In the past years, he has been a judge at the Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival.
||Alexandria Haslam |
Alexandria Haslam is a veteran of then Bay Area music scene and is currently managing editor at the Gavin Report. Formerly the assistant manger at BAM Magazine.
Mark "Spoonman" Petrakis With an extensive professional background in theater, circus, opera, comedy, and puppetry, Petrakis' s work focuses on the presentation of new ideas as forms of entertainment. Before he retired from the theater to pursue crazier things, he was producer of COBRA LOUNGE, an eclectic vaudeville revue hosted by his onstage alter -ego, "Spoonman." A committed collaborationist, who focuses on using digital and interactive technologies in the development of new entertainment and storytelling applications, he has been involved in the development and production of numerous websites, digital art projects, commercial interactive prototypes, virtual worlds, online communities, and consumer products. He has served as a creative consultant to a wide range of technology and media companies, and for the past four years, has served the Institute for the Future as a producer and director of conferences. For the past ten years, he has been a co-producer of ANON SALON (www.anonsalon.com), San Francisco's longest-running art and media party.
||Dr Dean Suzuki |
Dean Suzuki earned his Ph. D. in Historical Musicology from the University of Southern California. Now an Associate Professor in the Music Department at San Francisco State University, he specializes in Twentieth Century music, as well as teaching Rock History and Music Appreciation. At KPFA, 94.1 FM in Berkeley, he produces and hosts “Discreet Music” (every other Sunday at 10 p.m), an eclectic offering of contemporary, experimental music, with periodic programs devoted to a cappella, progressive rock, sound poetry, sound sculpture and other musical genres and styles. Past in-studio guests and performers include the Bobs, the Housejacks, Naturally Seven, the Accidentals, m-pact, +4db, Gunner Madsen, members of SoVoSo, F’loom and others. As a music critic and journalist, he writes for Goldmine, Musicworks, and other periodicals. Dr. Suzuki’s essay “The Art of the Voice: Trends in American Text-Sound Composition” was published in Homo Sonorus, an international anthology of sound poetry.
Andrew Turner comes to us all the way from Canada. He has worked with Canada’s largest talent agency The Agency and currently manages the a cappella great The Nylons.
Complete list of 1996 participants
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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
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 Neal’s 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 nation’s 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