HomeBOSS Wrap-up: The Revolution Struck Twice

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This revolution struck twice.

Boston Sings (BOSS) 2013 has wrapped up its second year of innovative workshops, an outstanding collegiate competition, the second live CARA Awards presentation and out-of-this-world professional showcase.

The collegiate competition featured Cat’s Meow of the University of Vermont; Divisi of Central Connecticut State University; MIX of the University of Colorado in Denver; Pitch, Please! of Northeastern University; Volta of Syracuse University and BOSS 2012 champions Voices in Your Head from the University of Chicago.

This year’s collegiate competition consisted of three themed rounds: Battle Cry; “One if by land, two if by C,” which required groups to include a combination of a duet, a nautical theme or a song in the key of C within the round; and “The Patriot and a Declaration of Independence,” requiring groups to sing about its own sense of “patriotism” and then breaking free of a cappella tradition.

After a tough competition that included pirate costumes from Divisi and an original song from Voices in Your Head, UCD MIX took home the top prize. Divisi won second place and Voices in Your Head rounded out the top three.

Friday night also included the live CARA Awards, which meant plenty of formalwear on CASA’s red carpet. Click here for a full list of winners. Congratulations to all who took home a prize!

The festivities continued on Saturday with workshops at Northeastern University. Classes such as “Original Songwriting” and CASA classic “Essential Listening” by Prof. Ben Stevens were packed to the brim with a cappella students of all ages learning from the best, including members of The House Jacks and Five O’Clock Shadow. Acabombs from some of the top groups in collegiate and post-collegiate, semi-pro a cappella also stormed through BOSS between workshops.

Saturday’s classes wrapped up with individual mock auditions for “The Sing-Off” for groups that had signed up prior to the festival. CASA founder and a cappella expert Deke Sharon, who is also the TSO vocal producer, along with the executive producer from the reality show, were available to help groups improve their performances before sending in tapes or attending the live auditions.

It all culminated in Saturday night’s professional showcase, which featured Boston’s own Five O’Clock Shadow and Denmark’s extraordinary quintet Postyr Project. FOCS celebrated its recent release “Six,” while Postyr showed the audience what it could do with its electronic gadgets onstage, particularly a set of light-up blocks and a looping station. To call the concert memorable is an overwhelming understatement.

Classes resumed Sunday morning with more insight on arranging for female groups and a special class by Postyr in which the group explained how it uses technology onstage.

BOSS wrapped up like all CASA festivals do: a special collaborative recording reserved for the winning collegiate group, the professional a cappella groups and special CASA guests and VIPs. The BOSS 2013 collaborative recording of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” will be available soon, so keep an eye – and ear! – out for it! In the meantime, check out all of CASA’s recent collaborative recordings here, available as an EP.

House Jacks member Austin Willacy, who taught “Original Songwriting” alongside The Executive Board, said he was very “heartened” by the amount of young songwriters who attend his class. He also felt that a sense of positivity intermingled with acceptance and collaboration throughout BOSS creates a positive environment for young musicians.

Elliott Robinson, also of The House Jacks, was a first-time festival attendee at BOSS. He said the diversity of music, performers and skill levels creates a perfect learning atmosphere for musicians.

“There’s a very open, free-flow of information here,” Robinson said. “There’s a forward-thinking energy. It’s a supportive environment.”

He mentioned that one of the most important things groups should take away from BOSS is knowing the difference between creativity and artistry, and gimmickry. The latter was shown by groups like Postyr Project and UCD Mix, both of which elevated the art form into something new and exciting, he said.

And for House Jack John Pointer, he said he’s already looking forward to BOSS 2014.

“The cool thing for me is to see [groups like] Volta perform, having three of the members inspired to form that group here last year,” Pointer said. “This year, you’re seeing Postyr at this festival. So what’s going to happen next year? I’m excited to come and see what people are inspired to do for next year. It’s really innovative stuff.”

[photo by Michael Eldredge]

About the writer:
Andrea Asuaje is the social media program manager for CASA. She is an alumna and former music director of the University of Florida's No Southern Accent. Asuaje works as the social media coordinator for Tribut (http://www.tributapparel.com), a South Florida-based music-apparel brand focusing on classic rock, blues and soul. She blogs about her life at The Big 24 (http://thebig24.tumblr.com), where you can see pictures of the many cupcakes she loves to bake along with her year-long goals she hopes to achieve before her 25th birthday. She lives in South Florida with her rabbit Potter.