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All Out A Capella Is Coming

If you are a fan of the movie Pitch Perfect, PopTV’s docu-series Sing It On, and you have lived around here for a while, you may already know about the annual All Out A Capella concert. For the rest of us, we may only have vague recollections about barber shop quartets, ‘50s doo wop (and its ‘80s revival), and our own high school’s a capella group. I fall into the latter category. Vaguely, I remember seeing an a capella concert back in middle school, and it seemed pretty neat (albeit it didn’t move me to ditch band for choir). Ergo I wanted to know more about this annual event and what All Out A Capella had to offer this year.

Sponsored by the Unity Music Boosters, the 11th Annual All Out A Capella concert is poised to be a great event for families and community vocal music lovers. The choral event showcases talented groups from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois State University, and Unity High School. The concert is for all ages so everyone can attend.  A capella (or acapella) is a style of singing where you unaccompanied by a musical instrument. This style can be difficult since you are relying on your ear to listen to others singing around you. Singing this way takes a lot of practice to stay in key and rhythm with everyone else. An a capella group is usually made up of sopranos, tenors, baritones, basses, and percussion vocals in order to get the full range of a song’s composition. Groups can be co-ed, all male, or all female. They also can vary in missions and styles to suit their strengths as vocalists.

To get a better idea of the groups involved in this year’s 11th Annual All Out A Capella, I scoured the Internet for their websites and other social media footprints. Here is what I found:

No Comment from the University of Illinois is a co-ed, fourteen member group. They recently placed second at the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella (ICCA) Great Lakes Region Quarterfinal at the University of Chicago. They are gearing up to compete again at the ICCA Semifinals at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University on March 3rd and 4th. The group was featured as one of three groups in season one of PopTV’s Sing It On, a reality television docu-series about a capella groups, their rivalries with other collegiate groups, and the ICCA competitions.

The Unseen from the University of Illinois is a new addition to All Out A Capella. They are an eighteen member, Christian-based, co-ed group. 

Clef Hangers from Illinois State University is a co-ed, fourteen member group. Founded in 2008, they were the first mixed vocal a capella group at ISU. Their repertoire varies from Judy Garland to My Chemical Romance. It’ll be interesting to hear what they have in store for audiences this year.

The Illinois Rip Chords from the University of Illinois is a fourteen to sixteen member, all female group. Founded in 1992, their repertoire covers a wide range of pop and contemporary music. After completing a short winter tour, they also competed at this year’s ICCA Great Lakes Region Quarterfinal.

Surreal Sound from Unity High School is an all female a capella group. They specialize in pop and contemporary vocal music. Don’t underestimate these high schoolers in a line-up of college students.

The Xtension Chords from the University of Illinois are an all male, twelve member a capella group. If their performance is like last year’s, they’ll bring some laughs with their altered lyrics and fun choreography. Recently, they, too, competed at the ICCA Great Lakes Region Quarterfinal, and they won “Best Choreography.”


Outlandish from Illinois State University are another new addition to All Out A Capella. Founded in 2015, they are an all male vocal group with six to nine members. They specialize in Gospel, R&B, and contemporary music according to their YouTube channel. Also, the ISU 2016 homecoming king is a member and the homecoming queen is their manager.

While they aren’t a vocal group, the Unity Music Boosters are another important group to highlight for this event. The Boosters are your parents and community members who wish to give a “boost” to our local junior high and high school student groups. They are there to help raise funds with drives and performances. The Boosters use the funds to provide the students with new items, attend summer music camps, or take field trips to see other performances. All proceeds from All Out A Capella go towards supporting the music programs in Unit 7 schools. In other words, all the groups featured are volunteering (and they get a “great dinner” from the Boosters according to Co-Chair Bonnie Woolard).

Sarah Keim is a contributing writer for Smile Politely’s Arts section. She’s a bit of recluse on social media, but you might bump into her out in the wilds of C-U. Frequent sightings occur at movie theaters and libraries.

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