Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival
For over a quarter century the Harmony Sweepstakes has been delighting audiences and the Festival continues to grow in popularity. The show was the inspiration for the hit NBC show The Sing-Off, which aired nation-wide in December 2009 and brought even more interest to the art of a cappella singing. Winners of the eight regional competitions are flown to the Bay Area to compete in the National Finals with the winners being crowned National Champions. From vocal jazz to doo wop, barbershop to pop and all styles in between you will be amazed at the versatility of the human voice on display in this most exhilarating evening of vocal harmony singing.
The roots of the event began in a weekly sing-a-long that was held in the British pub The Mayflower in San Rafael, California. Everybody had such a fine time singing they formed the community chorus the Mayflower Chorus and held regular concerts and performances. As it is not always easy to find performance opportunities for a large chorus several members also formed smaller a cappella ensembles and began performing around the region.
That's when chorus member Lisa Collins had the idea to start a competition for the a cappella groups as a way to further develop an audience for vocal harmony singing. For the first few years the show was part on the annual In Performance at Forrest Meadows performing arts series at Dominican University and the Festival soon became a local audience favorite.
After a few years, theatrical producer John Neal attended a concert and was thoroughly enthralled by the singing, the show and the concept of this first-of-its-kind music festival. John approached Lisa and offered to help develop the show and to expand to other cities and to make it a national event. They immediately became partners and other cites were added and the venue for the National Finals was moved to the much larger Marin Veteran's Auditorium.
Over the next few years the concerts grew in popularity and most every up and coming vocal harmony group across the land has performed in at least one show. After awhile groups from overseas also started to participate and to date there has been two Champions from overseas namely Vocaldente (Germany) and The Idea of North (Australia). The Festival is now firmly established as the leading showcase for vocal harmony groups and has helped further the careers of many artists. John Neal is now the sole owner of the Festival is is also the executive producer.
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