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The ACB Cool 100: 90-81

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The a cappella world is full of cool people, but those individual identities are so often lost in the broader scheme of a cappella groups or institutions. In this 10-part feature we are listing 100 of the coolest people in a cappella.

I based this list on many and varied rationale including overall impact on a cappella and the degree to which people have innovated. There’s a “lifetime achievement” element of it, but also a healthy dose of “what have you done for me lately?” This isn’t just about the greatest a cappella performers (though that certainly plays a role) but equally, if not more so about how much a person has given to the a cappella world, and how cool those contributions have been.

On a side note, if you get too bent out of shape about where someone ranks, or if someone’s omitted, please also keep in mind that you have a guy who voluntarily writes a blog about a cappella evaluating how cool 100 people are—there is some dissonance up in here.

Did we forget some people? Almost certainly. In brainstorming for this countdown, the initial list ran well over 150 names long. Tough decisions had to be made, and besides that, there’s little doubt that we forgot some very cool people. Please feel free to let us hear about it and give your favorite folks their just desserts in the comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

As much as it pains us, and surely invalidates the list to an extent, we have opted to not to include anyone on the regular A Cappella Blog staff on this list.

Here’s the list so far:
100. Heather Newkirk
99. John Baunach
98. DW Routte
97. Laura Long
96. Angela Ugolini
95. Marc Silverberg
94. Warren Bloom
93. Kari Francis
92. Ben Spalding
91. Corey Slutsky

With out further ado, we present 90-81.

90. Nate Tao After a distinguished collegiate a cappella career, singing memorable leads on sings like “Isn’t She Lovely” and “I Want You Back” for Ithacappella, Tao has shown no signs of slowing down, rocking show with Hyannis Sound, and now lighting up stages as a solo artist in LA. Tao is the sort of special vocal talent who transcends the a cappella genre; while I doubt he’ll ever leave the form behind entirely, he’s also quite likely to be an excellent ambassador for the form in the broader music world for years to come.

89. Tom Keyes Some major players in the a cappella community lead from the stage, others from planning rooms. Keyes is among those multi-talented individuals who can do both, lighting up stages with his Contemporary A Cappella League group Frequency in addition to serving as the director of The Contemporary A Cappella League and the CAL program manager for CASA. While scholastic a cappella groups may represent the future of the form, more and more, semi-pro groups are becoming the here and now, and folks like Keyes are at the fore of that movement.

88. Mark Torres In an increasingly visual culture, in which social networking is king, Torres's pet project, SIN3G took the a cappella community by storm last fall, offering a site dedicated to a cappella videos with a sampling of blog posts to boot. An alum of the Yale a cappella scene, Torres is passionate about a cappella and well connected to new media--as such, definitely a player in pushing the broader a cappella community forward.

87. Connaitre Miller Can jazz a cappella be cool? For years, plenty of folks thought not, balking at the groups who brought their jazz stylings to ICCAs or dared to even try and lure a general audience to their shows. The perception shifted with Groove for Thought's run on The Sing-Off, and fell flat on its behind with the rise of season three's surprise audience favorite, Afro-Blue. The group's take on songs like "American Boy" set the show on its head, challenging the contemporary paradigm with a jazz-pop fusion that darn-near set the show on fire early in the group's run. The mastermind behind the group concept was faculty director Miller who has clearly trained and rehearsed her proteges with an ear toward musical precision. It's yet to be seen if the group will spawn a wide body of imitators or disciples, but for the time being, Miller's vision has at minimum carved a very cool niche for a crew of promising young singers.

86. Meredith Strang NYC's Treble is quite arguably the coolest post-collegiate all-female a cappella group in quite arguably the coolest city in the world. Strang serves as co-musical director for the group, in addition to appearing as a very regular face on Varsity Vocals judging panels throughout the Mid-Atlantic, as well as a judge for the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards. On top of all of this, she's an alum of the Sing-Off-featured Deltones and arranges at NYC A Cappella. A part of what's so impressive about Strang's contributions to the a cappella world is not just what she has accomplished, but what she has empowered and paved the way for others to do.

85. Selame Scarlett Scarlett performed with Capital Green in her undergraduate career and has gone on to serve as an arranger for hire, ICCA judge, ICHSA producer and more. A presence at just about every major aca-gathering you can think of, Scarlett has made some of her most profound and unsung (no pun intended) contributions to the a cappella world as a videographer. To date, she has captured over 100 major aca-moments for YouTube—clips that will only become more valuable to a cappella historians as more time goes by, and that are tremendous fodder for all of us looking to tell a buddy about the amazing act we caught at the ICCA Finals, SoJam, or elsewhere.

84. Emily Flanders After cutting her aca-teeth with The Washington University of St. Louis Amateurs, Flanders has served as director of promotions for Varsity Vocals, the producer for the ICCA Midwest Region, and as an organizer for events like Boston Sings (BOSS). Always opinionated, and boasting a mean set of pipes herself, Flanders is a collegiate a cappella alum who just keeps giving back and helping the community evolve for the benefit of future generations.

83. Matt Caruso The mastermind behind ACappellaPsych, Caruso has more than just a nifty blog to his name--after graduating from The Ursinus College Bearitones, he has served as director his CAL group, Stay Tuned, worked with the CARAs, and offers arranging, production, live sound production services and more through his website. Caruso is a budding jack of all trades who is sure to develop an increasingly pronounced impact on the a cappella world in the years to come.

82. Seth Johnson When The Vanderbilt University Melodores ascended to the ICCA Finals in 2011, they arrived as, quite arguably, the single coolest college a cappella group on the planet. Sure, they had a cool range from hip hop to alt-rock, and, sure, their slick dance moves helped sell them to a general audience, but quite possibly the coolest part of their act was the chipmunk-stylings of the one and only Seth Johnson. Johnson was the star of The Melodore’s set in 2012 as well, riffing on “Sexyback” and more. Besides appearing on stage as the group’s most recognizable star, Johnson also functions as the president and general manager for the group. As he enters his senior year, expect big things from Johnson and company in the months ahead.

81. Glynn Rankin and Michael Dyck OK, I’m cheating a little on this one, but both of these guys earn placement for the same reasons, so they get to share a spot on the list. Rankin and Dyck sang together as part of Effusion at McGill University. Based on their experience competing and networking with other groups in the ICCAs the two decided to launch Canada’s biggest a cappella show to date, a festival infused with the musical tradition of Montreal—Montreacappella. The first-time event this past April featured 18 groups performing in a cappella marathon throughout the day. The success of the event provides plenty of hope that it will continue for years to come, spreading the a cappella love north of the border.

The ACB Cool 100: 100-91

Newsline

The a cappella world is full of cool people, but those individual identities are so often lost in the broader scheme of a cappella groups or institutions. In this 10-part feature we are listing 100 of the coolest people in a cappella.

I based this list on many and varied rationale including overall impact on a cappella and the degree to which people have innovated. There’s a “lifetime achievement” element of it, but also a healthy dose of “what have you done for me lately?” This isn’t just about the greatest a cappella performers (though that certainly plays a role) but equally, if not more so about how much a person has given to the a cappella world, and how cool those contributions have been.

On a side note, if you get too bent out of shape about where someone ranks, or if someone’s omitted, please also keep in mind that you have a guy who voluntarily writes a blog about a cappella evaluating how cool 100 people are—there is some dissonance up in here.

Did we forget some people? Almost certainly. In brainstorming for this countdown, the initial list ran well over 150 names long. Tough decisions had to be made, and besides that, there’s little doubt that we forgot some very cool people. Please feel free to let us hear about it and give your favorite folks their just desserts in the comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

As much as it pains us, and surely invalidates the list to an extent, we have opted to not to include anyone on the regular A Cappella Blog staff on this list.

With out further ado, we present 100-91.

100. Heather Newkirk Now more than ever, a cappella is all about social networking, and in a field full of people Tweeting, blogging, and beating the cyber bushes to stir excitement and enlightenment among the a cappella universe, Newkirk has emerged a fresh, heavily-involved face, eager to ask questions, raise ideas, and interact. Besides that, Newkirk was a major player in the rise of her collegiate group, Syracuse University Main Squeeze, which has evolved into a perennial ICCA contender in the Mid-Atlantic.

99. John Baunach In 2009, Baunach co-founded The Vanderbilt University Melodores. The collegiate a cappella world has never been quite the same since. While ‘90s R&B act TLC may have trademarked the album title CrazySexyCool no a cappella group has better embodied the mantra through a mix of high attitude, high octane choreography, and positively slick, innovative vocals. Baunach earns extra cool points for continuing his work in a cappella post-graduation, doing a phenomenal job as the organizer for The ICCA South Semifinals in 2012, and deftly emceeing a show that made smart use of social media by encouraging the crowd to Tweet under a common hashtag for the duration of the event.

98. DW Routte When Routte, an alum of American University On a Sensual Note transferred “home” to Ohio State, few could have predicted the aca-ripples that would follow, ultimately changing the landscape of Midwestern collegiate a cappella. Routte ended up founding Buck That!, the first all-male group at Ohio State. Now a graduate student, Routte led the group to the ICCA Semifinals in 2012, as well as a big win at Wooster Jam’s Voicefest. The group represents a high-octane, movement-driven style of a cappella that’s sure to bring big things to the group in the years ahead.

97. Laura Long After Divisi and Noteworthy had back-to-back tour-de-force showings in the ICCA Finals in the mid-2000s, all-female a cappella seemed enter a slump. However, in early 2010s we’ve seen a resurgence, with folks like Delilah, The Boxettes, Musae, The AcaBelles, and GQ at the fore. We’ll discuss people from each of these groups more later in the countdown, but for now, it’s worth noting one of the hardest working arrangers in all-female a cappella, Laura Long. Following up on her own collegiate career with Clemson TakeNote, Long launched L’s Arrangements, a site dedicated to providing top-notch all-female arrangements at reasonable prices. Folks like Long ensure that all-female a cappella isn’t only blossoming today but will enjoy a bright future as well.

96. Angela Ugolini Speaking of notable names in all-female a cappella, we arrive at our first AcaBelle alum of the countdown. After leading The ‘Belles to the ICCA Finals in 2009, Ugolini has gone on to sing with Musae and The Red States, and serve as musical director for post-collegiate, all-female ensemble Empire in New York City. On top of all of this, Ugolini has emerged as a stellar engineer with The Vocal Company. Multi-talented, multi-group stars like Ugolini demonstrate the fullest potential for a collegiate group alum to have a monster impact on the a cappella world.

95. Marc Silverberg Many a cappella enthusiasts have thought with wonder about a day when a cappella is considered more “legit”—a time when it’s accepted as a part of mainstream music, treated as a serious art form, and considered a viable form for study and analysis. As a Westminster Choir College Deaftones alum, Silverberg has taken these interests to a new level in his quest to develop an a cappella major for college students. His thoughts on a cappella and this objective are chronicled on his blog, and just as impressive as his written thoughts is the way in which Silverberg carries himself in person— humble, kind, and 100 percent dedicated to a cappella as a way of life. While it may be some time before an a cappella major takes off, don’t doubt that Silverberg may be just the person to make it happen.

94. Warren Bloom Bloom boasts an incredible a cappella resume that includes founding a group at Brandeis University (Spur of the Moment), singing with another at University of Miami, singing with and directing the vaunted summer crew, Hyannis Sound, and getting involved with numerous a cappella projects in the New York area since. Aside from his life on stage, Bloom has years of experience as an ICCA judge and a career as a music educator to back him, not to mention a pretty compelling TV review blog that has covered The Sing-Off and several non-a cappella competition shows, over at 5th Judge.

93. Kari Francis Kinfolk 9 didn't get much love for its abbreviated run on season three of The Sing-Off, but the ensemble included an unsung uber-talent in Francis. A former director of The UC San Diego Daughters of Triton, alum of The Tritones, and a part of post-collegiate group Frequency, Francis has made waves on multiple levels of the a cappella world. She may be best known for her current work with female star quad Musae, through which she's performed across the country and spoken on all-female a cappella panels at events like SoJam and The Los Angeles A Cappella Festival.

92.Ben Spalding Between strong showings on The Sing-Off from groups like Eleventh Hour and Soul'd Out, to the increasingly stellar overall shows at ICHSA Finals, there's no question that high school a cappella is on the rise. The next evolution of the form is on the cusp of realization courtesy of Centreville High School Forte, the 2012 ICHSA finalists whose Kickstarter campaign funded a CD of all original music. An all-original a cappella album is a daunting prospect for groups at any level, much less a group of pre-collegiate teenagers. Their guiding force? The one and only Spalding. An alum of The University of Kentucky AcoUstiKats and CASA's program manager for high school outreach, Spalding represents some of what's best about scholastic a cappella--empowering the young a cappella stars of tomorrow to achieve greater heights than the generation that preceded it. Spalding is all about that mission, and that's pretty cool.

91. Corey Slutsky What has Corey Slutsky done in the a cappella world? Better question: what hasn’t he done? Whether he was simultaneously starring with The G-Men and Kol HaKavod at Michigan, performing with Canadian pro group STREETNix or California crew Voxel Rox, beatboxing for The SoCal VoCals as a grad student, founding Voices Only, reviewing albums for the RARB, leading workshops at SoJam, judging ICCAs, or recording one-man band a cappella videos for YouTube, Slutsky has truly been there and done that for countless major a cappella projects.

Open Positions at Varsity Vocals and CASA

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-Varsity Vocals is currently hiring for ICCA producers for the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. Interested parties can check out all of the details here.

-The Contemporary A cappella Society (CASA) has announced openings for two leadership positions: Events PR/Social Media Manager and Talent Manager. CASA requests that interested parties get in touch by September 3, 2012.

The A Cappella Blog launches a Sporcle page

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The A Cappella Blog is pleased to announce the launch of our Sporcle page. For those unfamiliar with Sporcle, it is an online center for games and quizzes. The A Cappella Blog's contributions will, naturally, focus on the a cappella world. We have six games posted now and plan to post many more in the months ahead. Current selections include quizzes on a cappella alumni and artists covered on The Sing-Off, plus an A-Z a cappella trivia game. Check it all out here!

The A Cappella Blog launches a Sporcle page

Newsline

The A Cappella Blog is pleased to announce the launch of our Sporcle page. For those unfamiliar with Sporcle, it is an online center for games and quizzes. The A Cappella Blog's contributions will, naturally, focus on the a cappella world. We have six games posted now and plan to post many more in the months ahead. Current selections include quizzes on a cappella alumni and artists covered on The Sing-Off, plus an A-Z a cappella trivia game. Check it all out here!

2012 ACB ICCA Bracket Contest Results, 2012 Harmony Sweepstakes Results, and the “New” Straight No Chaser

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-We are pleased to announce the winners of The 2012 ACB ICCA Bracket Contest:

First Place: Shane Fuhrman
Second Place: Tiffany Cashatt
Third Place: Rick Thomas

Congratulations to the top finishers and thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s contest! To the winners--you should receive an email from ACB management to discuss the details of delivering your prizes. If you do not receive the email, please follow up with us at contact at acappellablog dot com.

-This Saturday, The Harmony Sweepstakes National Finals occurred in San Rafael, CA. According to The Harmony Sweepstakes website, the results were as follows:

First Place: Six Appeal
Second Place: GQ
Third Place: Foreign Exchange
Audience Favorite: Six Appeal
Best Original Arrangement: Katie Gillis and Katie MacDonald (GQ) for “Timshel”
Best Original Song: Andrew Berkowitz (Six Appeal) for “On Your Love”

-If you’re like me (read: an a cappella nerd who thinks too much) you’ve probably pondered the question of what happens to a collegiate group when members of alumni of the group use the group name and go mainstream. Such has been the case for Straight No Chaser, originally out of Indiana University. The end of this semester marked a changing of the guard and a resolution of much confusion as the collegiate group officially changed its name to Another Round. You can check out the story on this development here.

Next Page
The ACB Cool 100: 90-81
The ACB Cool 100: 100-91
Open Positions at Varsity Vocals and CASA
The A Cappella Blog launches a Sporcle page
The A Cappella Blog launches a Sporcle page
2012 ACB ICCA Bracket Contest Results, 2012 Harmony Sweepstakes Results, and the “New” Straight No Chaser
The Dear Abbeys Celebrate 20 Years, The Blend Commemorates 10 with a CD, New Group Shakes Things Up at Columbia, Reviews of A Cappella Palooza and the ICCA Finals
NBA Team Hosts A Cappella Competition, Sh*t A Cappella Kids Say Video, New Kickstarter Campaign for Detroit High School Group
CARAs Announced, New Honor for Voices in Your Head, New Collaboration from Pentatonix and Ithaca College Groups, A Cappella Streaming Radio
New A Cappella Competitions in Wooster, OH and Denver, CO
Thank You to Everyone Who Has Supported The A Cappella Book
ICCA Wildcard Champions Crowned, ICCA and ICHSA Finals Lineups, South Asian A Cappella Group Partners with Indian Film Company, ACB Clarifier
The Sing-Off Renewed! Celebrity A Cappella Super Group Announced as First Contestants!
ICCA Finals Picture Takes Shape, ACB Event Reviews Update, A Cappella Book Update
Second Group Announced for ICCA Finals, A Cappella Book Update, A Post-Collegiate Group Seeks Members, RFL Performance Opportuinty
Your ICCA Bracket: An Everyman's Analysis
ACB ICCA Power Rankings
A Cappella for College Athletes, Late Night TV A Cappella, and a Unique Recruiting Video
ICCA Semifinals Update, New Website for DC-Area A Cappella, An In-Depth Look at Buck That!
High School Group Recording All-Original Album; SingStrong 2012 Update; News on the Inaugural Montreacappella; Video of the Percussion Battle from Cornell
Kickstarter Campaigns, King's Men Blog, A Cappella Motivational Poster
So You Want To Start A Professional A Cappella Group?
Festivals, Kickstarter Campaigns, Blogs, The Latest from Peter Hollens, and More
The A Cappella Book
The ACB ICCA Drinking Game - Updated for 2012
The 2012 ICCA Bracket Contest is Live, Plus Introducing the Amplify Providence A Cappella Festival
Our RSS Feed is Working Again
NPR's A Cappella Playlist; Sony and The House Jacks; An A Cappella Benefit in the Midwest; New Music from Pentatonix
Welcome to a New Season & the Celebration of our 5 Year Anniversary!
12 A Cappella Power Players To Keep an Eye On In 2012