26th Annual

Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, acapella singing competition, illinois

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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.

2010 Chicago Champions

Home Free

A cappella. It's technically what we do. But we're not your bow-tie barbershop quartet. We're a vocal band. Which means we do more than sing - we perform - engaging audiences in a rich blend of harmonies while entertaining them.

Home Free has performed for a diverse and extensive clientele, ranging from the Minnesota Vikings, to Fortune 500 companies, Celebrity and Norwegian Cruise Lines, Allied Concert touring services, the Dutton Family from America's Got Talent and many, many more. It also devotes its time to educating and encouraging music in the public schools through innovative workshops and concert fundraising. To date, its programs have already raised tens of thousands of dollars for schools in Minnesota.

2010 Results

Home Free
An Octave Above
'Round Midnight
Audience Favorite
Home Free
Best Original Arrangement
"Bring Me To Life" Arr. Melinda Voss - An Octave Above
Best Original Song
"This Party" Toussaint Morrison

2010 Participating Groups

'Round Midnight
'Round Midnight is an award-winning "a cappella" quartet of music educators from the Long Island/Manhattan area of New York. While they sing primarily in the barbershop style, their eclectic influences range from jazz to classical and everything in between. The group is a two-time Semi-Finalist in the Barbershop Harmony Society's (BHS) International Barbershop Quartet Contest and they are also the BHS 2010 Mid-Atlantic District Quartet Champions. In addition, the foursome won the New York City Harmony Sweepstakes Championship and was bestowed with the coveted "Audience Favorite" award by overwhelming crowd vote. The quartet has received praise for their self-titled debut recording too, receiving a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) nomination in the category of "Best Barbershop Song" for their rendition of "Try A Little Tenderness". 'Round Midnight has been featured in an array of showcases, contests, and educational workshops spanning the United States from New York to California.Members: Jeff Glemboski, Wayne Grimmer, Larry Bomback, T.J. Carollo

An Octave Above
An Octave Above is a group of eight professional vocalists who blend years of experience and a love of a cappella harmony to every style of music they sing. From doo-wop to jazz, standards to pop, Bacharach to The Beatles, An Octave Above creates a new standard for excellence on the Chicago music scene.

Also members of prestigious Chicago-area choral ensembles including the Chicago Symphony Chorus, An Octave Above members hold degrees from Elmhurst College, Northern Illinois University, Bradley University, University of Illinois at Champaign, Western Michigan and the University of Miami.Members: Meredith McGuire, Amy Yassinger, Debra Wilder, Nick Falco, Chris Moan, Zach Benkowski, Kris Monn, Jennifer Gingrich

The Bradford Trio
The Bradford Trio is a female ensemble that has been inspiring audiences for the last five years. They have developed a uniquely distinct sound that can only be attributed to their close family harmony. The Trio consists of two sisters and their cousin, who started singing together as a trio in 2004 while attending an annual singing camp held in Vanleer, Tennessee. They perform regularly at many Song festivals, concerts, and events. Most notably, the Trio performed the past two years at the Fourth of July Singing In The Smokies Gospel Music Festival in Bryson City, North Carolina. They have also performed on numerous dates for the past two years at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. Tim Gardner said in his feature article Introducing The Bradford Trio - A Cappella Masters, published in the December 2008 issue of Singing News magazine, "The Bradford Trio is establishing a standard of vocal excellence." Members: Mendell Bradford, Jennifer Bradford, Davette Bradford Dean

Home Free
A cappella. It's technically what we do. But we're not your bow-tie barbershop quartet. We're a vocal band. Which means we do more than sing - we perform - engaging audiences in a rich blend of harmonies while entertaining them.

Home Free has performed for a diverse and extensive clientele, ranging from the Minnesota Vikings, to Fortune 500 companies, Celebrity and Norwegian Cruise Lines, Allied Concert touring services, the Dutton Family from America's Got Talent and many, many more. It also devotes its time to educating and encouraging music in the public schools through innovative workshops and concert fundraising. To date, its programs have already raised tens of thousands of dollars for schools in Minnesota.Members: Matt Atwood, Troy Horn, Adam Rupp, Chris Rupp, Rob Lundquist

Jimmy and the Threats
Erected in 2001, signed by Elite Records, Jimmy and the Threats took the country by storm and quickly rose as one of the top acappella groups to be reckoned with. Leader of the pack, Jimmy Carmichael, highlighted the group's sound with a bad-boy attitude on-stage that soon began to affect the groups life off-stage. Numerous physical altercations and knife fights began to spread rumors of the hip-hop acappella group, as their private lives became public and consumed by mainstream media. Upon the night of Nov. 27th, singing to a sold-out audience in Boise, Idaho's prestigious Great Hall, an argument ensued between Jimmy and an audience member behind the building. The shouting turned to violence, and the violence turned to shooting. Jimmy Carmichael had spun out of control, leaving the group to scrounge for finances to fund a lawyer for the case, as Epic Records completely removed themselves from the group's name. Now, with Jimmy on the constant rocks, and their backs against a wall larger than that really big one in China, the trio strives to keep alive upon the furious streets of the United States of America. Truly starving artists, with attitude and arrogance beyond that of a doped up Robert Downey Jr's.Members: Matt Bissonette, Toussaint Morrison, Andrew Berkowitz

No Better Cause
No Better Cause is an award winning pop/soul/funk vocal band hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska. Through a combination of jaw-dropping performances and innovative studio musicianship, their music has put them on a national platform since their humble beginnings in 2002. With a unique assortment of both original songs and uniquely arranged covers, No Better Cause is guaranteed to deliver a show that people of all ages can appreciate and enjoy, whether it be of a rock, pop, funk, soul, jazz or gospel influence... and it's all done using NOTHING but their voices!

Whether it's the rumbling resonance of the bass, the spectacularly soaring high tenors, or the bold beatboxing of the incredible vocal percussion, No Better Cause is sure to catch your eyes and ears, as each unique component of this seasoned a cappella sensation works together to make their harmonized sound a sonic movement. As the group continues to perform, they have made tremendous strides with each new member, demonstrating that the current lineup is one that can be mentioned with the a cappella elites.Members: Lucas Kellison, Michael Evans, Bill Catlett, T.J. Saddler, Nate Kellison

The Offbeats
The Offbeats formed in late June last year as a group of 5 guys that loved to sing. We hoped that we might get a chance to compete in the Iowa State Fair Talent Search. With that in mind, our vocal group took on a Nylon-influenced, a cappella sound with "Kiss Him Goodbye". A month and a half later, we found ourselves the Iowa State Fair Bill Riley Talent Search Champions...and with less than two weeks before we went our separate ways to school. We try to sing a little bit over breaks, but mostly now do the college thing. Members: Alex Bogh, Michael McAndrew, Michael Penick, Jeremy Gussin, Adam Bogh

Formed during the summer of 2009, the members of Sundown are all alumni of Millikin University's award-winning vocal jazz program. The group performs music of all styles, both a cappella and with a combo. Arrangements in the group's repertoire include the music of Earth, Wind, and Fire, Stevie Wonder, The Martins, Take 6, Paul Simon, Jill Scott, Tracy Chapman, the New York Voices, Joss Stone, and the Dave Matthews Band. We are very honored to be selected for Harmony Sweepstakes and are looking forward to the show!Members: Molly Pufall, Amy Bearden, Shanan D'Agostino, John Stafford II, Melissa Curtis

2010 Judges

Timm Adams   

Timm Adams is enjoying his fifteenth year as Associate Professor of Music at Rockford University where he teaches a variety of voice and musical theater-related courses, conducts three choirs and musical directs the Performing Arts Department’s main stage musicals. For 15 years, he was the proud Artistic Director of the Chicago Chamber Choir, presenting more than 40 concert series and producing 4 CDs. He stepped down from that position in 2014 in order to devote more time to the growing Performing Arts Department at RU.

In the fall of 2015, Adams was awarded a sabbatical from the university, during which he directed and performed in Pump Boys and Dinettes in his home town of Kansas City. He also furthered his research in vocal pedagogy for contemporary singing styles (rock and musical theater, primarily) by shadowing six prominent musical theater and rock voice teachers in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Jay Giallombardo   

Jay Giallombardo began his interest in a cappella singing at the young age of 8 where he learned part singing with church hymns. At New Trier High School, his interest in music expanded further, where he sang in the choral groups and musicals, began a barbershop quartet, and studied music theory. Jay started arranging about age 15. Jay went on to study music at Bradley University and finished his Music Education Degree at Boston University. Jay also completed his Masters in Music Composition and Theory at Northwestern and taught high school choral music before pursuing a variety of activities in the "Barbershop World" with an actively performing quartet, chorus directing, arranging and coaching. Jay sang baritone in "Grandma's Boys"; they recorded three albums, performed across the US and Canada, and won the International Quartet Championship in 1979. Jay became a founding member and musical director of the New Tradition Barbershop Chorus in 1981. The New Tradition, under Jay's direction, was a medalist chorus (top 5) through the 90's, culminating in a gold medal championship in 2001. Jay is one of very few (about 4) Society members that have achieved a gold medal with a quartet and as a chorus director. Jay became a Music Judge for the Society in 1994. He and his wife Helen own and operate GSB Medal Music, Inc which provides Jay's a cappella arrangements to performing groups worldwide. Jay currently has been arranging pieces for chorus and orchestra.

Daniel Gregerman   

Daniel Gregerman, Choral Director at Niles North High School in Skokie, IL has spent 23 years building an award winning choral program. Applying his deep passion for music and education, Gregerman started and built the NNHS vocal program. He was recently named, the 2014 John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year by the Jazz Education Network and the Berklee School of Music. His groups have earned national recognition, performing at regional and national conferences, winning multiple Down Beat awards, and performing at festivals both nationally and internationally. Gregerman’s ensembles have shared the stage with such names as Diane Schuur, The New York Voices, The Real Group, Take Six, and Janis Segal of The Manhattan Transfer. Known composers such as Jennifer Barnes, Michele Weir, Kirby Shaw, Greg Jaspers, and Gary Fry continue to create musical arrangements and compositions for his ensembles. Gregerman has served in a variety of leadership roles within the community of education. He is a founding member of the Jazz Education Network, (JEN), where he has volunteered in many different roles including his role as the Conference Office Co0rdinator for the Annual JEN Conference. Gregerman has held positions as State and District Chairman of Vocal Jazz for ILMEA, and has been Guest Director for several ILMEA District Jazz Festivals as well as acting as a clinician for vocal groups both locally and around the Midwest. Gregerman earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and a Master of Music Degree with an emphasis in Choral Conducting and Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI.

Warren Kaplan   

Warren Kaplan is an original member of the a cappella group 4 On The Floor, which accounts for some of his most enjoyable and most cherished performing experiences. As a classically trained singer, he also performs with symphonies around the country, in such works as Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Samson and the Verdi Requiem. His most recent appearance, earlier this month, was with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra as bass soloist in the Mozart Requiem. Warren is a voiceover actor, with numerous commercials to his credit, including spots for McDonald’s, Sears, Coors Lite, Life Cereal and Pizza Hut. Some of his non-singing passions are abstract painting, drawing caricatures, bicycle touring and the outdoors. Warren is thrilled to return to this year’s Harmony Sweepstakes.

Becca Kaufman   

A native New Yorker, Becca moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University’s renowned theatre program. Beginning her career as one of the most sought-after jingle writers/session vocalists in Chicago, Becca quickly expanded her talents to producing musical showcases and albums, providing commercial voice overs, and becoming a wedding expert featured on TV and radio—including her own radio show “I Do, I Do” on 105.9fm, WCKG. Becca has been leading her own society band, BK), for the past ten years. A little over four years ago, Becca launched her own company, BeatMix Music, bringing on a roster of talent including dance bands, string quartets, jazz trios and more, hoping to match every client with an unparalleled music experience. Becca has appeared on stage with performers such as Lily Tomlin, Brooke Shields, Phoebe Snow, Tony Roberts, and Ellen Burstyn and several summers ago was a featured performer in the Broadway Chicago Concert in Millennium Park singing for over 19,000 people. Becca was cast in the role of a comedic cabaret singer for Scrooge & Marley, a feature film released in late 2012. And, should you wonder where her hometown loyalties reside—she has sung the National Anthem for both the world-champion Chicago Bulls and her forever-losing New York Knicks. She is the proud wife of acclaimed chef, Peter Schonman, and by far her best productions are their three kids, Gabe, Brooke and Trevor.

Complete list of 2010 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 :

David Wilner (Chicago) David Wilner competed in the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes with Blind Man’s Bluff and Fiveplay, winning First Place, Audience Favorite, and Best Original Song with each group. During his six years in Blind Man’s Bluff, David toured nationally and recorded five albums. He also spent seven years with the classic rock quartet Ac•Rock, recording two albums. Today, David emcees events throughout the Chicagoland area and performs in the band The Four C Notes. He has been the regional producer of the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes since 2017.

P.O. Box 4502, Naperville, IL 60567

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Northshore Center For The Performing Arts

The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie (NSCPAS) is a dynamic, two-theater complex located in one of the most vibrant communities in the country. The NSCPAS is home to three distinct resident companies: presenting organization Centre East, Inc, producing theater company Northlight Theatre, and the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra. The facility is also the performance home to the acclaimed Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra and hosts numerous other cultural organizations and special events each year. The NSCPAS is located just off of I-94 (Edens Expressway) about 30-minutes north of Downtown Chicago. In addition to a diverse programming schedule, its proximity to Old Orchard Shopping Center, a wide range of excellent restaurants and plenty of free parking, make the North Shore Center a convenient and popular destination for entertainment.Directions -Yelp reviews -

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