Contemporary a cappella would not be what it is today without the Harmony Sweepstakes. Do you have any idea how influential the competition is? How vital it has been to the growth and dissemination of contemporary a cappella?
What started out as a regional festival 25 years ago has become an annual national competition. Just the longevity is reason to take note. 25 years.
Nearly every professional American a cappella group has competed in the Harmony Sweepstakes at some time. Winning the national competition, while not a guarantee of success, serves as a declaration, a coming out party if you will, of the next hot things on the scene. Just by glancing down the list of winners, you’re witnessing the history of the development of contemporary a cappella. Except for the barbershop. I'm not entirely sure how the Sweeps fits in with barbershop.
Name another event, opportunity, or occasion that has universally served to attract, inspire, train, and improve contemporary a cappella talent on such a pervasive scale.
An annual event that brings in regional talent, challenges to raise the level of their art, allows them to showcase their act. The best talent selected to travel to a national gathering of the best groups from the United States and, more and more frequently, the world. Friendships are formed. Networks are built. Ideas are shared. Horizons are expanded. Large-scale cross-pollination.
Does that happen anywhere else, on that scale, in the a cappella world?
Long live the Harmony Sweepstakes!