Let Your Voice Be Heard

Let Your Voice Be Heard

A cappella competition bigger, better than ever 

 The aca-awesome Walton Arts Center-produced VoiceJam A Cappella Festival returns to Fayetteville for its fourth consecutive year. The festival will see groups from across the nation take to the Baum Walker stage in competition and will give local and visiting musicians the opportunity to enhance their skills through workshops. It will again host the “father of contemporary a cappella” and producer of NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” Deke Sharon. Just before their arrival in Fayetteville, What’s Up! heard from a few of the competitors:

Impromptu – Indianapolis

“Because we all come from such different vocal backgrounds, we all have the ability to sing solos within the group, so we have a wide variety of styles and genres that we could hit,” says Edric Mitchell, a member of the only community group (not part of a school) participating in this year’s competition. “We [also] have three of us that are capable of arranging our own music for the group. I do think that sets us apart from a lot of groups, as well. A lot of groups purchase their arrangements from other people — which is great because there are always people out there getting work arranging for a group — but it really is something special for us to be able to put our own spin on the entire arrangement that we want to do.”

Mind the Gap — University of Oregon (Eugene, Ore.)

“It’s a much more personal experience being your own instrument and having to convey the message based on your voice and your face and in a group setting, as well,” says Mind the Gap member and business manager Emilie Ormsby. The group took third in the 2016 VoiceJam competition and returns this year. “Mind the Gap opened me up to the emotional part of a cappella, for sure. A lot of our songs — including one we’re actually competing with called ‘Till It Happens to You,’ it’s very personal to each of us. The song itself was … written for sexual assault awareness, but each of us take it in our [own] sense and convey this really just deep message from each of us personally. To be able to do that on a stage all together, it’s unlike anything else.”

Ars Nova — Miami Valley School (Dayton, Ohio)

“We always try to say something a little deeper with our music — we’re not there just to sing pop songs and sound good. We’re making a point when we’re on that stage,” says Taylor Felder, high school senior and member of VoiceJam’s only high school competitor Ars Nova. “We don’t want to just be a good high school a cappella group; we want to be a good a cappella group. And I think by seeing not just other high school groups, but experiencing and learning from college groups and groups made up [of] young adults, we can learn a lot.”

“What this group brings is a lot of depth of emotional resonance,” adds director of vocal music at Miami Valley School Christopher Diaz. “I think a lot of times, young people, their feelings are dismissed as cursory or burgeoning — not as valuable or resonant as that which adults feel. So when you see this set, you’re going to see a really thoughtful group of young people who understand the world is in gray scale — it isn’t in black and white. And this set is really about the marriage of the highs and lows, and hopefully bringing them together under an umbrella of hope.”



VoiceJam Festival

WHEN — VoicePlay headliner concert, 7:30 p.m. April 6; VoiceJam competition, 7:30 p.m. April 7

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — VoicePlay concert $15-$30; VoiceJam competition $19-$39

INFO — 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org

FYI — Visit website for full schedule, plus details on workshops.

Categories: Entertainment, Music