Acapella Music Thrives at Colleges in Connecticut; Sing-Off Winner from CCSU

Interest in acapella singing on college campuses – clearly on the upswing in recent years - shows no signs of slowing down, if the standing-room-only crowd at the second annual Connecticut Collegiate Sing-off is any indication.  Hosted by Eastern Connecticut State University, the friendly competition included seven groups from four colleges – UConn, Central Connecticut, Western Connecticut, and Connecticut College. A Cappella is a way of singing that does not include being accompanied by musical instruments. (In Italian it means in the "style of the church or chapel".)  In recent years, the musical style has been featured in a number of network television programs, most notably in Glee.  The vocal performances come in many styles, including Doo Wop, Beatboxing and even some modern rock and popular music, often with a dash of good-natured humor.

The competition for best ensemble was won by CCSU’s Too Good For Instruments (TGFI), the university’s 14-member all-women group, based on the votes of audience members.  The roster of performers included:

  • UConn Extreme Measures
  • CCSU AcaBellas
  • WCSU Parallel Fifths
  • UConn Rolling Tones
  • Connecticut College ConnChords
  • CCSU Divisi

Each of the groups heard comments, compliments and critiques from a panel of judges immediately following their performances, prior to the audience vote at the end of the evening.  Eastern’s three groups - Fallin' Flat, 6 Ways to B Natural and Key of She – also performed, but stayed out of the competition so as not to use their home field advantage.

A capella music has been the basis and inspiration for many top musical acts on the charts from Motown to Boyz to Men. In recent years, it has been the focus of national tournaments and exploded in popularity on college campuses all over the country. Where there were once just over 200 groups nationwide, their numbers are now estimated to be in the thousands, with many campuses having multiple groups.

The A cappella movement is believed to have its roots here in Connecticut beginning a century ago, in 1909, when part of the Yale Glee Club broke off and formed the Yale Whiffenpoofs, the first collegiate a cappella group. It has been reported that entertainers including John Legend, Anne Hathaway, Cole Porter and Art Garfunkel sang in a capella groups when they were in college.