Youth add voices to local a cappella scene


What do you call the very first youth a cappella group in Springdale? AcaPeeps, according to the Springdale students comprising the group, is the perfect fit.

“Like people and, since we’re Springdale, chicken,” group director Jim Loyd explains with a chuckle.

AcaPeeps has sprouted wings in response to the influence the Walton Arts Center’s yearly a cappella competition VoiceJam has had in the region. The festival and competition enters its fifth year as it returns April 4-6 and AcaPeeps will perform at the opening concert as a direct partnership between the WAC and the Northwest Arkansas vocal community.

“A cappella is my passion,” Loyd says of the group. From the beginning, Loyd has maintained an open line of communication with festival organizers in the hopes of establishing community involvement. And this year was his chance.

“They reached out to me and said, ‘We want to make something happen this year. We want Northwest Arkansas to have a presence because it’s going on in our own backyard.’ And we said let’s see what we can make.”

Loyd was more than ready for the challenge with a robust background in starting a cappella groups — both during his college career and youth programs after his graduation. He also has experience writing and arranging for a cappella groups and 11 years of teaching music.

“The a cappella community helps the a cappella community,” he asserts. “People aren’t out there going, ‘No, this is ours. Stay away.’ They want to hear you succeed. They want to hear you do great. They want to see that a cappella continues to flourish and it’s something more than just what we do.”

The current incarnation of AcaPeeps performed some “aca-pop-ups” in Springdale on March 29. On April 4, they will open for Hong Kong group Boonfaysau, last year’s winners of the Vocal Asia a cappella competition during the VoiceJam Festival. From there, Loyd intends for this initial effort to lay the foundation of a competitive youth (high school/junior high) a cappella group that might earn their way to the VoiceJam stage in the future.

“When there’s success with this group and it’s seen that this is happening,” Loyd predicts, “more kids will want to be a part of it so that there’s a bigger [mentality] of, ‘Everybody come join and let’s just make a cappella music.’ Let’s not worry about the stress about what’s our choreography? What are we singing? We’ve got to put the best set and beat everybody. No, we want to make good music and just enjoy being around each other while we do it. So that will be the direction the larger form of the group goes, whereas the smaller group will be focused more on the competition.”




WHEN — 7 p.m. April 4

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — Free

INFO — 443-5600,

FYI — The VoiceJam Festival continues through April 6 with the headline concert ($10 & up) on April 5, workshops all day April 6, and the competition on April 6 ($19 & up).

Categories: Family Friendly