Each summer, Cape Cod in Massachusetts plays host to a unique a cappella sensation: Hyannis Sound. It’s an all-star powerhouse that since 1994 has draws ten talented young men from across the country to provide entertainment at a variety of locales. As current member Jon Smith explained to me, the group assembled “with the mission of entertaining Cape Cod audiences with a repertoire of popular music spanning the last century while the ten members live, work and grow together throughout the summer.”
Smith is an alum of University of Delaware Vocal Point who, as a senior, guided the group to a third place finish at ICCA Finals in 2014. Smith emphasized that people “can be in Hyannis Sound and their college group at the same time, since Hyannis Sound operates in the summer.” Though the group performs together for one season out of the year, Smith explained, “When we are together, we’re rehearsing or doing a show pretty much every day. While a collegiate group might rehearse two or three times a week and have a gig or two, HS might do all of that in a day.” The upshot? “You grow so much as a group both musically and personally because you’re living and working together twenty-four-seven. By the end of the summer we’ll have a repertoire of about forty songs, have recorded our annual live Bootleg album and half of the next studio album.”
As of now, Hyannis Sound is in search of new members for the summer of 2016. Smith reports that the group asks auditionees to submit a video of approximately five minutes to firstname.lastname@example.org. “It should include an introduction so we can get to know you, warming up and down so we can see your range, and a solo piece that you feel comfortable singing and that best shows off your voices. After that, you may get invited to the live auditions in Boston which are the weekend of March 18.”
The benefits of Hyannis sound go well beyond performance. “I think if you asked any current or past member of Hyannis Sound, they would say the network of about eighty guys that have become their family is one of the best benefits of being in this group,” Smith said. In addition to that, you grow so much as a person and a musician from the other guys. HS has also helped current and recent group members (including myself) land jobs both in an out of the music industry because employers are so interested in the unique experience.”
Despite its lengthy tradition, Hyannis Sound runs under the direction and leadership of current members. Smith explained, “There’s a Business Manager who books all of our shows and gigs, the Music Director who runs rehearsals, an Operations Manager who handles all of our in-house logistics. The seven other members all have their own jobs as well, and each one is important to the group’s success. The fact that ten college-aged guys who start off not knowing each other so well can work together to make this happen every year is pretty awesome.”
The summer of 2016 will be a busy one for the group with recurring gigs in Falmouth on Mondays, Chatham on Tuesdays, Dennis on Thursdays and Hyannis on Fridays. “The rest of the days are normally filled with other shows, private parties, etc.” Smith said, noting that the group is adding quite a few weddings to their slate this year, and also made particular note of the annual “live bootleg concert where we record our entire repertoire and have it ready by the end of the summer so we and our audiences have the summer captured on a CD.” The group will also finish work on a new studio album, to be released in 2017.
Hyannis Sound and its members—new and returning—certainly have a lot to look forward to in the summer ahead. For those intending to audition, Smith said, “We’re definitely looking for guys who are ready to hit the ground running and take advantage of the whole experience. Guys who are confident and bring something unique to the table but also those that are willing to learn and grow from the group.” He went on to articulate that, “when looking for new members, we’re not just looking for singers for our a cappella group, we’re also looking for guys that will be our housemates for the summer and eventually become family.” The best advice he had for hopefuls was simple: “be yourself! I know it sounds cliché but we want to see a real piece of you, who you are and what you can bring to our group as a person, not just as a musician.”
Smith has clearly enjoyed his experience with Hyannis Sound and rounded out our interview by not only encouraging people to audition, but also invited others to come hear the group in action. “Take a trip to the beautiful Cape Cod,” he said, “and come see a show this summer!”