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The Guide: Mid-Missouri's a cappella groups

Read about some of mid-Missouri's committed a cappella groups

Ally Appelbaum

The Naturelles warm up before performing at Allen Auditorium on MU's campus.

December 2, 2011 | 2:52 p.m. CST

Watch it,Rockapella, mid-Missouri has some a cappella groups that could put your 90's coffee commercial to shame. And with the caroling season nearing, most of Columbia’s award winning groups are cooking up something fun for the holidays.

Columbia boasts award-winning a cappella groups of all ages. Members of these groups find time to rehearse every week, despite class or work commitments.

In this guide, Vox features contemporary and classic a cappella groups in Columbia that have either been around for years or are just starting out.

For a sample, watch the Simpatico Quartet rehearse with a Christmas medley.

Video produced by Nicole Garner

Location: MU
Online: Facebook
Members: Gabe Becker, James Dawson, Zach Dean, Jim Grundy, Chris Higgins, Stephen Lanza, Austin Newman, Sam Reed, Joe McLean, Keenan O'Brien, Ben Worley, Zack Gray, Sam Wright

Since 2003, Add9 has operated as a student-run group showcasing the musical talents of male singers at MU. For the past eight years, membership has grown and become more selective.

“Our members find time to rehearse at least twice a week,” Gabe Becker, a MU junior, says. “If one of us has a song we want to perform, it’s our responsibility to compose it.”

Add9 has performed at the Rotary Club, Relay for Life and Mizzou Idol. The group loves performance opportunities and recently competed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella and made the cut to progress next year in February’s Midwest quarterfinals on Feb. 25.

“It’s been an exciting year,” Becker says. “And while we’re hopeful about ICAA, we know we always can use some practice.”

While Add9 will not have a holiday concert, they are planning on performing Christmas carols around campus within the next three weeks.

Boonslick Chordbusters
Location: Columbia

The Boonslick Chordbusters is an all-male ensemble that sings in the Central States District chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. They get their name from Daniel Boone, who originally founded Boone County’s natural salt licks. The title “Boonslick” honors the rich heritage of the region while “Chordbusters” categorizes them as a musical group.

The members come from different backgrounds and hold day jobs in various professions. But the group finds time to meet on Thursday nights to rehearse. Their organization performs at various venues throughout the year, including the Missouri Theatre and Jefferson City Airport. This season, they will not only be holding a Christmas Show, but also go caroling downtown in Columbia.

The Santa Clause IV: The Barbershop Clause
When: Dec. 3
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts

Grand Pause Tonic
Location: MU
Online: Website
Members: Christina Adams, Tyler Beck, Zach Dean, Lauren Eggering, SeungRi (Victor) Lee, Nicole Lunger, Ben Worley

“If you say Grand Pause Tonic really fast you’ll hear ‘Grandpa’s Tonic,'” Tyler Beck says. “It’s kind of a fun music name that makes people remember us.”

Beck has been a member of Grand Pause Tonic since it started in 2008. Today, he manages the new singers and keeps the seven member independent a cappella group going on MU’s campus.

Grand Pause Tonic enjoys performing classic arrangements like “Fever” and “I’ll Be Seeing You,” but is always willing to work on something new. Every member that competed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella vocal competition placed or received honorable mention.

“It’s a talented group,” Beck says. “And we’re always happy to be working together.”

Hickman High School A Cappella Singers
Location: Hickman High School
Online: Website

Hickman High School’s A Cappella Singers have dominated high school competitions the past two years by singing classical a cappella arrangements.

Matt Felts, the choir director, graduated from Hickman High School in 1999. For the past five years, he has organized and directed various choirs at Hickman.

“The A Cappella Singers are composed of 51 juniors and seniors,” Felts says. “Everyone must audition every year, even if they are already in the choir.”

The students receive fine arts credit for involvement in the group, but dedicate 250 minutes a week and occasional weekends to competitions.

“Many of my students are interested in music careers,” Felts explained. “This is a great classical foundation for them to explore that option.”

Winter Concert: featuring A Cappella Singers, the Wind Ensemble, and the Orchestra
When: Dec. 8
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Hickman High School Auditorium

The Liberty Belles Trio
Location: Liberty Baptist Church
Online: Website
Members: Dee Worley, Jane Hayden, Judy Todd

The Liberty Belles have been singing for Liberty Baptist Church since 1997. All three members were actively involved in choir before Dee Worley established the trio. Although they focus primarily on Southern Gospel music, the group dabbles in a cappella arrangements during the holiday season.

“A cappella is much more challenging for us,” Dee Worley says. “We started working on the arrangements mostly because we were being asked to perform at locations that didn’t have accompaniment.”

While Worley writes some of the music the Belles perform, she contends that the groups a cappella arrangements are mostly traditional holiday tunes. They will be performing at three events this December, one of which will support Central Missouri Honor Flight at the Country Club of Missouri’s Holiday Night’s Fundraiser.

Liberty Belles Christmas Concert
When: Dec. 4
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Where: Liberty Baptist Church
Call: 474-9392

Christmas at the VA
When: Dec. 9
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Harry S Truman Veteran’s Hospital

Country Club of Missouri’s Holiday Night Fundraiser
When: Dec. 21
Time: 5:00 p.m. (perform at 6)
Where: Country Club of Missouri
Call: 449-7201

Mizzou Forte
Location: MU
Online: Website
Members: Kelsey Allen, Catelyn Crawford, Aaron Braverman, Bryson Bruce, Kyle Gillespie, Chris Goers, Hartzell Gray, Travis Holt, Stephanie Helfenbein, Sarah Krachmalnick, Emily Meier, Jake Moore, Austin Nichols, Sarah Peats, Kara Rood, Emily Scott, Justin Short, Sarah Watney

As MU’s official co-ed a cappella group, Mizzou Forte has been dazzling Columbia since 2005. Performing anything from Tom Petty to The Beatles, the 18 members have strong voices and create catchy arrangements.

The group wears black and gold at MU basketball games, Tap Day, and even the Olympic swimming qualifiers. With a competitive audition process and dedicated rehearsal schedule, Mizzou Forte hopes to continue its legacy at MU as a strong student organization.

“I’ve been a member since spring of 2009,” Stephanie Helfenbein says. “Since then, we’ve only had more and more people come out and audition for the group.

The members composed everything in their repertoire, using a computer software program to write the music. Mizzou Forte practices twice a week and learn new arrangements while polishing others. For their holiday concert, they are presenting a wide array of traditional Christmas classics.

Winter Concert
When: Dec. 7
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Whitmore Recital Hall in Fine Arts

The Naturelles
Location: MU
Online: Facebook
Members: Elizabeth Ajuzie, Gaylemarie Easton, Susan Burd, Laura Kebede, Mickey Moulder, Mackenzie Scott, Allison Repking, Hannah Smith

From classic Coldplay to the Spice Girls, The Naturelles have most popular pop songs covered. The current eight members are all students at MU.

“Not all of us are music majors,” says Laura Kebede, The Naturelles director. “We all love singing, and because of The Naturelles, we have an outlet for it.”

As a student group, members pick and compose the songs they are interested in performing. Because they started in 2007, the remaining original members will be graduating this year and are excited to see The Naturelles hold their first solo concert in December.

“It’s bittersweet,” says Elizabeth Ajuzie, a senior nutrition and fitness major. “But I guess this means open spots for interested women.”

First Annual Winter Concert
When: Dec. 3
Time: 7 p.m., free
Where: Allen Auditorium (Arts and Science Building)

Simpatico Quartet
Location: Columbia
Online: Website
Members: Heather Schake, Wendy Hofmann, Bobbi Walker, Sky Jimenez

Since 2004, Simpatico Quartet has continued as an all female a cappella group. The four current members have been performing together for the past 10 months but know one another through the Heart of Missouri Chorus in Columbia.

“When Simpatico started, it was always rearranging members,” founder Wendy Hofmann says. “Fortunately, we have a lot of accomplished singers in our chorus so finding replacements was always easy.”

The barbershop quartet loves classic a cappella arrangements from the decades, but is willing to learn any song for special events. Every Christmas, the four women stroll throughout downtown Columbia and perform in various businesses.

“We laugh all of the time,” member Sky Jimenez says. “I always forget we’re all different ages because singing together keeps me young.”

The Velvetones
Location: Stephen’s College
Online: Website
Members: Amanda Riley, Aubryn Stevens, Austin Stanton, Dawn Sherrill, Evann Jones, Nicole Hietter, Rachael Rogers, Sarah Casey

The Velvetones are an ensemble of eight dedicated Stephen’s College students who “live for dissonant chords and connecting our independence with the interdependence needed to create those chords.”

Pamela Ellsworth-Smith, the director of The Velvetones, started the organization for Stephen’s students to not only improve their own voices, but also learn how to work together as an ensemble.

“I just thought it would be a wonderful outlet for the students,” Ellsworth-Smith says. “There’s such an education in studying vocal jazz.”

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