How Many Soloists Do A Cappella Groups Have?

Statistical Findings

In the fall of 2010, The A Cappella Blog invited every collegiate a cappella group we could find to participate in a survey. Our objective was to develop a better understanding of current trends in a cappella—what groups are or are not doing and to what degree.

Over 300 groups from across the US and abroad responded to the survey. Throughout our 2010 publication season, we will review results from this survey and talk about what our findings mean. We welcome and encourage groups to look over the information to learn, to benchmark and to satisfy their own curiosity.

This edition’s question: How many different soloists did your group have last year?

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Of the groups surveyed, only four percent depended upon three or fewer soloists. Groups seem to lean much more toward a wide range of soloists, with nearly 38 percent reporting seven to nine soloists in the past year, over 20 percent offering up four to six soloists or ten to twelve different soloists. Fifteen percent of groups even went so far as to have more than 12 different singers take the fore. A part of this statistic may be skewed as the question did not account for songs with dual or alternating soloists.

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The decision to have so many soloists is indicative of a number of a number of things. For one, there’s the suggestion of a communal spirit—groups spreading the solo wealth and appreciating that most singers will appreciate the opportunity to have at least one solo. Furthermore, it gives groups the opportunity to showcase a bevy of different talents, and in so doing appeal to different audience members. Hand in hand with this, a variety of soloists affords a group greater opportunities to perform music by a variety artists and from a variety of genres. On top of all of this, there’s a certain pragmatism to having a large roster of soloists—if someone gets sick or can’t make a show, it makes the group less dependent on a select few, and better prepared to adapt and perform different material.