(left to right) Kelsey Magaña, Grace Yi, Erin McCroskey, Derek Buckwalter, Keala Freitas, and Adam Lange are the students that make up ASUSF SIX Voices. (Photo Courtesy of Matt Miller/Foghorn)

Aca-Believe It! USF Hosts First Ever A Cappella Festival

Music, melody, and mouths were all present and in use during the first ever daylong USF A Cappella extravaganza on March 23.

The Aca-West A Cappella Festival, hosted by ASUSF Voices, featured Deke Sharon who worked as the vocal producer for the hit film, “Pitch Perfect.” In addition, various other renowned local a cappella groups such as Vocal Rush, The Riveters, and The House Jacks conducted workshops throughout the day, ranging from seminars on vocal percussion and vocal arrangement to songwriting. During the evening, these singing groups performed in a culminating concert celebrating a day filled of aca-awesomeness.

The concert, held in McLaren, was attended by around three hundred people and not a single empty seat was in view. From students, faculty to music lovers, and SF residents alike, the audience consisted of a diverse turnout of the USF community. First on stage was USF’s very own a cappella group Six, which served as a subgroup of USF’s Voices. Their standout song was a cover of Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Chain” and was an eerie, well-coordinated piece with a great buildup. Another memorable piece was their medley of various songs by Journey.

Right after their well received performance, Vocal Rush of the Oakland School of the Arts took the stage. This group of  15-18 year old girls had the audience cheering and hollering from the first notes of their first cover. Carmina Pulliam, a Vocal Rush member, commented about her experience as a member.

“What got me started in acapella was my teacher Ms. Forkish. She started a group on campus and I didn’t really know anything about a cappella, but I heard them and they were amazing, so I auditioned,” said Pulliam.

Their strongest piece was a beautiful and melodic cover of Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’” that set the stage for the rest of their fantastic covers. Another standout was their cover of Kanye West’s “Lost in the World” which was beautifully executed by the range of the primary singer’s voice.

Jada Banks, high school student and member of Vocal Rush, said, “We’re a very close knit group. We’re trying to empower a lot of other women’s groups because there aren’t many.”

The Riveters led by Lisa Forkish, coordinator and creator of the previous group Vocal Rush, performed after. This all female group of five women did an absolutely stunning cover of Sam Sparro’s “Black and Gold.” The song was sung in a faster tempo, and it was a non-traditional rendition of a well known song but with a completely original feel. Also, their cover of Kimbra’s “Cameo Lover” was a very catchy and a stunning song choice because of its upbeat tempo.

They also did a cover of Fiona Apple’s “Hot Knife” by using not only their voices, but various feet and stomping techniques to get the right sound and beat.

Concluding the night was Deke Sharon’s group The House Jacks. Sharon, who was involved in the production of both “The Sing Off” as well as “Pitch Perfect,” said, “The best way I can describe my involvement is that I love a cappella. I always have loved the sound of it, the excitement of people, and I love nothing being in between me and the audience.”

The group had a fun, funky, and silly vibe, and constantly involved the audience as part of their performance and a cappella experience. All of their pieces, either medleys, originals, or very intricately integrated beatboxing techniques, had the audience jumping to their feet. When asked why he loves a cappella, Sharon said, “I don’t know! Why do some people love pizza? I just love it! It just gets inside me! And I love sharing this with other people too!”
This event was the first of what is now planned to become a yearly tradition at The University of San Francisco.

For more information about the Aca-West A Cappella Festival or to find out about upcoming events, feel free to reach out to ASUSF Voices at voices@usfca.edu.

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