After winning first place at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella quarterfinals, the Beltones won first place again at semifinals at the University of Georgia on March 1.
The group also won awards in outstanding vocal percussion for Carter Harrell and outstanding soloist for Tyra Thompson.
The group will be performing the same six-song social justice-focused set that won them first place in the quarterfinal round.
“The competition was very close,” said Thompson, the Beltones music director. “I was very confident in our group, but it was close.”
Varsity Vocals competitions include groups not only from the United States, but also from the United Kingdom and other European countries. Only the winning group from each region’s semifinal round moves on to finals, so the pressure was on to perform well.
“We had to share holding rooms with a lot of groups so we got to see them practice,” said Thompson. “I did a lot of research beforehand, so I knew what we were up against.”
The group won by a margin of 18 points, making it a fairly close win.
The Beltones placed second in the semifinal round in both 2014 and 2015, so they hoped this third time would be the charm.
“Before quarterfinals, we had to learn the set and make sure it was presentable; before semifinals, we had to make sure it was clean. Now, since we’re so solid on it we have the creativity to experiment as much as we want,” said Thompson.
Before the semifinal round, the group only had six weeks to make alterations to their set.
“A lot of things changed from quarterfinals to semifinals, most of which were small improvements that made a big difference,” Vice President Adriel Morton said. “Now that we have the security of going to finals, we’re really going to take our set and turn it inside out.”
The final competition will be held at the Beacon Theatre in New York City where world-famous artists such as Aerosmith, Billy Joel and Robin Williams have performed.
The Beltones will be performing along with nine other a cappella groups from around the world on April 22.
“None of us in this group have been to finals,” Morton said of the group. “The last group that went to finals was the seniors last year, so this is going to be a new experience for all of us. We are beside ourselves excited.”
This article was written by Jason Saitta. Photo courtesy of the Beltones.