Queen B wasn’t lying when she sang, “Who run da world? Girls! Who run this mother? Girls!” She’s right; girls are killing the a cappella game right now. Can you keep track of all the times you’ve watched Pitch Perfect with your girlfriends? Exactly. But if you need a break from the Barden Bellas, take a listen to these female a cappella groups that’ll make you fall in love all over again.
10. Sweet Signatures – Elon University
Remember how at the end of Pitch Perfect 2, the Bellas sang about girl power and being BFFs before winning the entire world championship? Well, the Sweet Sigs are a real life version of that. These girls do it all, including competing in competitions, entertaining the Elon campus community, hosting a cappella festivals with other groups, participating in philanthropy events, and singing for hired gigs and recording albums. It’s no surprise that these ladies have competed in the ICCA’s (International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella) annually, and even took home the award for “best choreography” in 2008. “Beyond our music, the group is also a close-knit group of friends. We truly love each other and have fun singing together,” Sweet Signatures President Brianna Marino said.
9. Note-oriety – James Madison University
Throwback to September when your newsfeed was filled with a video of an a cappella cover of “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé. Yeah, that just so happens to be Note-oriety. “We like to pick music that speaks to us as people and that we feel we can do justice and then work very hard to achieve our goals while still always being a supportive and safe environment,” Note-oriety Music Supervisor Zoe-Elizabeth McCray said. Their powerful video skyrocketed them into the spotlight, which they have made their home ever since. Between performing up and down the east coast and recording amazing covers of all your favorites such as “Bang Bang” and “Royals”, you could say Note-oriety are definitely the Destiny’s Child of James Madison University. Except, all of them are Beyoncé.
8. California Golden Overtones – University of California, Berkeley
Ever dreamed of becoming a celebrity? If so, you might want to talk to the ladies from the California Golden Overtones. They’re so famous on campus that even Lena Dunham considers herself a fan, according to their website. “We work really hard year-round to be the best we can be. We practice 10 hours a week, in addition to a weekly concert, and put our hearts and souls into this group,” California Golden Overtones Business Manager Joban Gill said. Since the group has been around since the 70’s, the Overtones get recruited for weddings, school events and private parties. So we’ll just be over here fangirling.
7. Out of the Blue – Duke University
Founded in 1980, Out of the Blue’s rapid success shows that they plan on being here through 2080. Ever heard of the CARAs? They’re the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards, and only the best of the best groups in a cappella receive them. It’s safe to say these ladies are the best since they’re certainly no stranger to the CARAs, having won nine over the course of their career. Not to mention the fact that they’ve performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to live on Turkish television. Talk about international superstar status.
6. Pitch, Please! – Northeastern University
Not only is this group’s name beyond amazing (seriously, it should be accompanied by a fierce hair flip every time you say it), but if there’s one thing they value, it’s female empowerment. Founded in 2012, the group may be young, but they’ve certainly packed a punch. Not only do they kick ass at the ICCA’s and Boston Sings competition (they won runner up), but they also lead workshops with the Boston based non-profit Strong Women, Strong Girls. “Recently, I think we’ve realized that as we gain recognition in the a cappella community, we can really send a message about what’s important to us as a group. An example of this is our performance from Boston Sings 2015, where we did a set focused on gender stereotyping and feminism,” Pitch, Please! President Casey Matsumoto said.
5. Noteworthy – Brigham Young University
If this name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you remember seeing them on NBC’s The Sing-Off back in 2009 where they slayed covers of hits like “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay. Let’s also not forget that back in 2007 they were crowned ICCA champions. That’s right, they won the entire competition. “Being affiliated with Brigham Young University, a religious institution, makes Noteworthy unique in the world of collegiate a cappella. We perform mostly pop songs, but we also include hymns and other spiritual or inspirational music in our repertoire,” Noteworthy member Alyssa Aramaki said.
4. Jackson Jills – Tufts University
As the oldest all-female a cappella group at Tufts University, you know this group developed lots of musical history. They just so happen to be named after Cornelia Maria Jackson, who donated funds to Tufts to help women attending the college. That’s some serious girl power right there. They’ve taken the stage at the ICCAs (AKA the competition for a cappella queens) and performed everywhere from campus to all around Massachusetts. They even managed to make it into Rolling Stone magazine for their cover of Fun’s “Some Nights.” Cornelia would be proud.
3. The New Blue – Yale University
The New Blue might be Yale’s oldest female a cappella group (it was founded the same year women were admitted as undergrads) but, it’s also Yale’s oldest female organization of any kind. While these ladies are full on celebrities here, they also travel and entertain people all over the world from Hong Kong to Greece and Turkey. They’ve even performed for George Bush and Barack Obama. Over the last few years, they’ve produced seven albums and won CARA awards like it was nothing. Luckily for us, The New Blue shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
2. The Loreleis – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Named after the mythical siren that enchanted sailors with her voice, the Loreleis are about as kickass and mythical as their name connotes. When they aren’t busy absolutely killing it at the ICCA’s, the Loreleis are recording albums (one is released every other year) and touring nationally and internationally twice a year. Talk about #goals. “What sets us apart from other a cappella groups is that we are not afraid of a challenge. We manage to pull off very intricate arrangements, and make arrangements that may be a little simpler sound full and impressive,” The Loreleis 2015-2016 president Caroline Miller said. We should also mention that every semester they tackle at least one classical music piece. That’s right, these ladies to do it all. Where do we sign up?
1. The Sil’hooettes – University of Virginia
If you want to talk about award-winning a cappella groups, it would be impossible to do so without spending hours raving about The Sil’hooettes. From performing at the White House to racking up 19 CARAs and opening up for B.o.B and Ben Folds, this group has done what other groups can only wish to accomplish since forming in 1989. “The Sils are first and foremost a group of best friends and our college experiences just wouldn’t be the same without each other. We’re so much more than an a cappella group – we’re a family,” The Sil’hooettes President Anna Rigby said. It’s safe to say that The Sil’hooettes will continue to be trailblazers for the a cappella world for many years to come.
5 More Acapella Groups You Need to Know About
Written by Rosie Forster
1. Vocal Synergy
The definition of synergy, as defined on Vocal Synergy’s website, is “the interaction of two or more forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.” These girls from Wagner College prove that the combined effect of their singing holds immense power. Recently, they took second place at the 2014 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) quarterfinals and semifinals. They have also toured around the US and have released multiple studio albums. Their most recent feat visually displays an entirely self-produced music video for their cover of “I Put a Spell on You.” “We are a very self-sufficient group, arranging our own music, planning our own performances—everything. We’re so used to doing everything ourselves that it surprises us when we perform at other schools and people are shocked that we do our own beatboxing. People are just that caught off guard by female beatboxers, they’re never expecting it,” sophomore Mackenzie Lavoie said. It takes a lot of synergy to get that much done in such a short time span.
Yes, the Acabelles sound like they’ve been plucked out of a Pitch Perfect spin-off series. And their vocals sound just as good. Their YouTube cover of “Royals” has amassed over nine million views, with their audience reaching CNN, Good Morning America and even Lorde herself for good reason. From Florida State University, these girls have competed in ICCA, released albums and singles and kept busy promoting all-female a cappella. These girls also participate in charity functions, such as Random Acts of A Cappella. The proceeds of that concert went to causes like hurricane Katrina and Invisible Children. This group truly proves that girls can sing in harmony just as well as the boys.
3. The BluesTones
When you listen to these girls, you’ll feel anything but blue. From James Madison University, the Bluestones was founded in 1999 and have gone on to perform all over the east coast since then. They recently released their ninth album, Blue Blood, in December of 2017, where they perform modern hits like Ariana Grande’s “Into You” and classic bops like Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen.” “What we hope to achieve through a cappella is to show young girls that have a passion for music that a cappella can be an amazing way to make friends as well as continue to improve your musicality. Each day we spend together rehearsing, we improve our skills as musicians, leaders, and learners,” Bluestones member Jenny said. Last year, this group took second place at the D.C. Aca-Challenge at the Lincoln Theater, where they competed against five other groups. Keep your fingers crossed for a bluegrass album, so that these girls will reach ultimate pun status.
4. Men in Drag
Despite their name, this all-female group can sing brilliantly in both skirts and suits. This group from the University of Chicago have competed in ICCA multiple times, reaching the quarterfinals in 2016. They released their latest studio album in 2016, Medusa Complex, which has been nominated for five Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards. “Many of us, and surely many more women out there, suffer daily from low self-image against a tsunami of social judgement and stereotypes. Learning to be sensitive and contemplative, and incorporating this into our performance (e.g. tone, choreography, song choice, criticism) can alter the way we conduct ourselves in daily life and those we touch,” the group said. Students of the University of Chicago know this group for their electric stage presence and occasional drag outfits. They can sing anything from the intense The Civil Wars song “Devil’s Backbone” to the slightly less intense Outkast song “Miss Jackson.” One thing these girls won’t let drag? The tempo of their songs.
5. Significant Others
You’ll wish these group members were your significant others after hearing them sing a melody. These girls, from Northwestern University, commit to a “ride or die” mentality which makes them a close-knit group much like a sorority (they even refer to themselves as Sig O). Running for over twenty years, Significant Others arrange all their own material and cover a wide range of artists. They made the contracting phase of the a cappella competition show The Sing Off in 2010 due to their killer vocals and outstanding on-stage presence. They also go caroling around Chicago every winter, so look out for them. With five studio albums and shows all over the country under their belt, these girls will make you believe in love (although, as they will point out, not necessarily with them).
**Update on February 2, 2018 to include 5 more groups by Rosie Forster