Hailing from the Southeastern coast, nine collegiate ensembles brought "Pitch Perfect" and "The Sing-Off" to life in the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center's Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall Saturday night.
Hosted by VOLume, UT's all-male a cappella ensemble, groups gathered in front of a sold out crowd to compete in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella quarterfinals in the hopes of landing a spot in the ICCA South Semifinal competition to be held March 15 at Vanderbilt University.
The Vanderbilt University Melodores were Saturday night's first place champions and secured a spot in the ICCA semifinals along with second place winners, The Beltones, from Belmont University. The University of Central Florida's Gemini Blvd followed in third. First and second place ensembles will continue to the ICCA South Semifinal in March.
Among the competing groups was UT's own all-female ensemble, ReVOLution, who, according to the group's Twitter page is "a bunch of sassy ladies singing stylings of contemporary favorites." Although ReVOLution did not advance to the semifinals, UT's sassy songbirds started the night out strong with an energetic rendition of Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher."
Greg McGinnis, father of freshman ReVOLution member, Hayley McGinnis, said he is "very proud" of his daughter who landed the closing solo in Saturday's performance.
"We got exposed to a cappella through 'The Sing-Off' and we love it," Kay McGinnis, Hayley McGinnis' mother, said. "It's phenomenal. There is so much talent."
Following ReVOLution, the remaining ensembles performed various mixtures of classic and contemporary popular music in true, fun-filled a cappella style.
"It's just fun," said Tyler Owens, VOLume member and first year graduate student. "Everyone knows the songs. It's really hyped up. I know it's cliché, but if you can get everything just 'pitch perfect,' it's amazing to see."
One performance by The Melodores included the classic Backstreet Boys tune "Backstreet's Back" and a sensual rendition of Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T.," eliciting a standing ovation from the audience.
The a cappella community has recently experienced a dramatic spike in popularity due to the aforementioned pop culture presence.
"There's something about the power of the human voice," James McHugh, sophomore member of The Melodores and recipient of Saturday's "Outstanding Soloist" award, said. "And after 'Pitch Perfect' came out, people really started to show interest in a cappella."
Although VOLume didn't advance to the semifinals, Owens said the group was excited to open and close the show and to share its hard work with an appreciative audience.
"It's crazy to see people going wild for you onstage at these competitions," Owens said. "I mean, it's mind-blowing."
Not only do a cappella group members get to experience the rush of sharing their upbeat, emotionally charged vocal feats with enthusiastic audiences, but they also gain a safe haven amid the flurry of university life.
"My singing ability has sky-rocketed since joining the group," Justin Kenney, senior Melodores member, said. "It really gives you a place to grow musically. We're like brothers.
"I started singing in high school, but it was really through the 'Dores that I found my voice."
Lauren Edmondson, junior in English, attended the event and said she appreciated all of the work that goes into a cappella performance.
"I'm a big fan of 'Glee,' so I figured I'd come down and check it out tonight," Edmondson said. "It's been great. I think it's really cool watching live because you know they've practiced so long to get to where they are."