HomeMeet Your CASA Ambassador: Bob McSwain

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Bob McSwain

When did you first become involved in a cappella? In what capacity?

My high school band was at the Festival of States in St. Pete, Florida. To entertain the thousands of HS students, the festival hired the Yale Whiffenpoofs.  I was mesmerized. I told my band director that I wanted to be in a group like that. He said “Maybe you can be in one in college.”  Well, it didn't happen in college, but it has for the rest of my life!

My first experience in an a cappella group was with The General Assembly Chorus (Research Triangle Park Chapter of the BHS.) I was a founding member, the baritone section leader, and 2-time chapter president.  This group was chosen as one of the 10 most influential SPEBSQSA/BHS quartets and choruses. When most of the “best” choruses had 150-200+ men, we placed in the top 5 with only 33-55!

I had the good fortune to be on the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (www.rarb.org) for 2 years.  This appointment allowed me to learn a lot about a cappella beyond the world of barbershop music.

I have sung in a comedy quartet (“Temporary Insanity”), do-wop group, a church a cappella choir, and am currently in a quar-quin-sex-tet (depending on the gig.)

When did you first become involved with CASA?

I first registered in 2005, but only became a member in the past year. I realized that I was too involved with a cappella to not be a member.

What geographic region do you cover as a CASA ambassador?

I will be covering Charlotte, NC  and South Carolina.  (I live in Charlotte, NORTH Carolina, and similar to Sarah P. I can see South Carolina from my backyard …LOL)

What role do you play as a CASA ambassador and/or what role would you like to play?

I have been an ICCA judge for about 8 years, loving every minute of the hard work. Recently, I have been very frustrated. I’ve judged contests at Clemson (3 hours away), Wake Forest U. (2 hours away), Elon (2.5), UNC-Greensboro (2.5), and USC-Columbia (2). I kept wondering why the ICCAs were never in Charlotte, but in places much smaller.  After digging around I found out there were NO A CAPPELLA college groups in or around Charlotte even though there are numerous universities and college here.  Actually, I found out there NO A CAPPELLA groups (high school, college, or post-collegiate) in the area!  I decided that a city of 1+ million residents needed some attention. So I looked at the CASA Ambassador program as a way to aca-fertilize the city and surrounding area.

What do you do for work and play?

After 31 years with IBM in sales and technology, I took early retirement.  I’ve been around photography all my life so I started “Bob McSwain Photography & Creative Services.”  My real passion is music.  I sing WHENEVER I can and also play trumpet

Tell us one thing about yourself people would be surprised to learn

I have played bagpipes and was a founding member of the North Carolina State University Pipes and Drums.

Favorite a cappella group?

I love a large chorus, and have to say Dallas Vocal Majority, the Masters of Harmony of Santa Fe Springs, California, and Westminster Chorus from Anaheim, California are at the top.   On a smaller scale, I am a big fan of Street Corner Symphony and Committed.

Favorite type of music?

I honestly like every type of music that exists so long as it performed well.
Favorite a cappella concert?

I have to say that Florida State All Night Yahtzee’s ICCA 2003 Men in Black set was outstanding.  Although it was only 10 minutes long, it was absolutely one of the most creative presentations I have seen.  For a full concert, I was fortunate to attend Street Corner Symphony’s homecoming to Anderson, SC.  It was a full night of college groups followed by SCS. SCS is just as good in person as they were on “The Sing-Off.”

Anything you'd like the CASA readership to know about your area?

I am proud to be a part of the NC/SC a cappella region.  It has an excellent college a cappella heritage.