29th Annual

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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 Chicago Champions

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.

2013 Results
Cat's Pajamas Vocal Band
Phonic Uproar
Audience Favorite
Cat's Pajamas Vocal Band
Best Original Arrangement
"Come Together" Arr. David DeVries

2013 Participating Groups

Phonic Uproar
Phonic Uproar was founded at the University Of Dayton and features six male vocalists. The group has performed in various venues including church conferences, university functions, and concert settings. This eclectic ensemble derives its roots in various genres such as Motown, R&B, Rock, Pop, Classical, Jazz, and many others.

Members: Jelani Connally, Josh Forman, Trevor Rosenbaum, Connor Higgins, Justin Padmore, Garrett Woods, Tyler McCormack, Joey Saliba
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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: Nate Mendl, Nate Adams, Mike Hilliker, Brad Baker, Brian Skinner
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With the threat of the Mayan-predicted end of the world in 2012, these five singers from the Chicago a cappella community prepared to go out singing, in an attempt to change the apocalypse into the acapocalypse, thus saving the world! It looks like they succeeded, and now they're on a mission to fix the economy, end the war in the Middle East, and stop global warming, all with nothing but the power of their voices.

Members: Melissa Shubalis, Will Kazda, Ross Hammond, Dave Thomases, David DeVries
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Boomslang is made up of musicians who have been making a cappella music long enough to want to ditch the Lady GaGa medleys and one-hit wonders in favor of making music that moves them - music that speaks to and resonates within the hearts of each member. Their repertoire couples a heavy emphasis on great, thoughtful songwriting with the unrivaled communicative, emotive, and downright "human" qualities of the voice. The various members' pedigrees include time with the House Jacks, Ball in the House, Vocal Chaos, the Colorado Buffoons, and the University of Miami vocal jazz program, among others. Boomslang is based in Chicago's North Side.

Members: Tom Anderson, Anthony Martucci, Elliott Robinson, Eric Spiegel, Blair Baldwin
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Innocent Men
The Innocent Men is a seven member a cappella group comprised of studs from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire's all-male choir, the Singing Statesmen. The group was formed way back in 1985 and has been running strong ever since. The Innocent Men have provided top-notch singing and below-average humor as entertainment to literally thousands, although not at the same time.

Members: Mark Green Jr., Sebastian Armendariz, Phil Reilly, Dane Jaskowiak, Ryan Simmons, Andrew Steffen, Eric Conner
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Other Option
What do you get when you mix a teacher, a software analyst, a tax specialist, a sailing instructor, and a graphics artist? You get The Other Option! The Other Option brings together the voice talents of Colin Gagnon, Ravi Manghnani, Eric Pantano, Matthew Porcelli , and Barry Rokusek. Formed in Madison, Wisconsin in early 2012, the group's eclectic sound mixes contemporary songs from the 70's and 80's, along with a dash of current music. Whether singing at open mics, birthday parties, or just out on the street corner, the group puts its emphasis on fun, harmony, and good music.

Members: Ravi Manghnani, Colin Gagnon, Matthew Porcelli, Barry Rokusek, Eric Pantano
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Sunday Afternoon
Based in Cedar Rapids Iowa, Sunday Afternoon's (SA) distinguished sound comes from the diversity of each member of the band. We strive to perform high energy, family friendly shows and we pride ourselves in our ability to incorporate a wide variety of music genres into all performances, including but not limited to: pop, R&B, rock, techno and even a little country. SA has performed for hundreds of people at various state fairs, ball games, wine tastings, and concerts in Iowa as well as Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia. We aim for everyone to leave our performances satisfied.

Members: Sheila Wagner, Matt Bryant, Alicia Strong, Stephen Banks
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VOCALITY is an a cappella quartet with a wide ranging repertoire from 60's and 70's classic rock tunes to gospel to musical theater to barbershop. They are an animated ensemble who love singing together and entertaining audiences with a passion for igniting the spark of music in young people everywhere. VOCALITY formed in January, 2007 and was immediately recognized as an entertaining quartet with flawless harmonies and exciting delivery. They were crowned District Champions in the Land 'O Lakes district of the Barbershop Harmony Society and quickly rose to the elite ranks of the Top 20 in the International Barbershop Quartet contest. Their debut recording was honored with two Contemporary A Cappella Recording nominations by the Contemporary A Cappella Society: Best Barbershop Album and Best Barbershop Song. In fall of 2011 VOCALITY released their second recording, Alleluia, which features gospel music.

Members: Jay Althof, Tom Matchinsky, David Boyd, Tony Blackwood
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2013 Judges

Freddie Feldman   

Freddie Feldman - Since 1998, Freddie Feldman has been the owner and chief engineer of the award-winning a cappella recording studio VOCOMOTION, based in Skokie, IL. He is the inventor of the Thumper Throat Microphone, the only microphone created specifically for vocal percussionists and beatboxers. Freddie is the producer of the SingStrong Chicago a cappella festival. He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (the Grammys), and holds two bachelor’s degrees from Northwestern University.

Mark Grizzard   

Mark Grizzard is best known to the Harmony Sweepstakes as the arranger for Chapter 6, three-time Chicago regional winners and National Champions in 2004. Throughout the last decade, the group has toured to over a thousand venues in 44 states, and tour highlights include a performance at the Kennedy Center and a video feature on American Idol. Mark’s arrangements have earned him several national awards, and he was songwriter and producer for Chapter 6’s CARA-winning album “Color by Number” in 2011. Mark is currently pursuing a master’s degree in music composition at Illinois State University, where he serves as a lecturer for music theory and arts technology courses. He is also music director at First Baptist Church in Peoria, IL and is a freelance writer, performer, and clinician. (If anyone’s asking, it’s not Mark’s fault that Chapter 6 rarely tours these days; it’s the other guys who went and had all those babies.)

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.

Judy Storey   

Judy Storey has been a professional vocalist in the Chicago area for over forty years, singing with jazz trios, big bands, pop/rock groups, orchestras, and the vocal trio, “Sweetening”. Live performance credits include singing background vocals for Celine Dion at McCormick Place and Carole King at the Lyric Opera House. Judy was a four-year member of the Lakeside Singers, a professional Evanston-based choir with a classical and pop repertoire. In 2010 she was part of the 100-voice choir that performed the soundtrack to “The Lord of the Rings” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. During years of studio singing, Judy’s commercial credits include McDonald’s, United Airlines, Budweiser, Pizza Hut, and many more. One of her original compositions, “Shipwreck”, appeared in Don Johnson’s film, “Cease Fire”, and she sang in background vocal recordings for the film, “My Best Friend’s Wedding”. Judy currently resides in the Chicago suburbs where she continues to sing and has a private vocal instruction practice.

Loren Shevitz   

Loren Shevitz is well-versed (and well-chorused?) in several styles of a cappella music. He has served as the director, producer, and primary arranger for Chicago’s premier Jewish a cappella ensemble Shircago, which was selected to appear on the first-ever Best of Jewish A Cappella album. He is also assistant director of the gold-winning men’s chorus New Tradition. Additionally, Loren and his father Henry operate the music arranging and transcribing company Cameo Lake Music, which has produced dozens of arrangements over the years. Their works have been performed by the Michigan Opera Theater, Fish N Chips A Cappella, and the internationally-renowned cantor Alberto Mizrahi. Outside of the a cappella world, he has been music director and pianist for the Young Actors Ensemble 2012 and 2013 productions of “The Music Man” and “Once Upon a Mattress”. Loren has also served in the professional High Holy Day choir at Anshe Emet since 2008. Loren earned his bachelor’s at the University of Michigan, where he was a founding member of the a cappella group Kol HaKavod, and his master’s at the University of Chicago, where he was a co-founder of the nationally-recognized a cappella group Voices In Your Head and the Russian folk choir Golosá.

Complete list of 2013 participants

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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 is a singer, songwriter, pianist and DJ who has been performing in the Chicago area for over two decades. David's a cappella career began with the University of Illinois Xtension Chords where he won a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award for vocal arranging. David went on to sing professionally with the popular Chicago-based vocal rock band Blind Man's Bluff where he toured nationally for six years and recorded five albums. David competed in the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes with both Blind Man's Bluff and Fiveplay, winning First Place, Audience Favorite, and Best Original Song with each group. David twice took Third Place at the National Finals, once winning the award for Best Original Song. Today, David is on stage as often as possible: performing as a solo artist, leading events as a DJ, singing in the classic rock quartet Ac·Rock, spreading holiday cheer in The Caroling Party,, and releasing his inner "Jersey Boy" in the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons tribute band The Four C Notes. Outside of music, David enjoys chasing after his two kids, coaching soccer, and cheering for his beloved Chicago Cubs.

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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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