Four years after their formation, the Beltones at Belmont were in an unfamiliar situation last weekend.
Near the end of the International Collegiate A Capella Association quarterfinal at Duke University Saturday, the student-led group thought they had a chance to do well in only their second year in the competition. Their show-closing performance was one of two to receive a standing ovation that night, and their choreography arranged by Hayley Lewis had just been named the best in the competition.
Nevertheless, the seventeen members of the team were still surprised with the result – they won.
“We had an inkling we would place, but when we found out we had won it was crazy,” said Carly Taylor, one of the group’s senior members.
Now the four-year old organization is one step away from the national a capella finals. They will compete in the Southern semifinals at Vanderbilt University on March 23.
Coming into the competition, Taylor said the team had no expectations of winning. This was a team with little experience. Last year, she said the team was blown away by their competition in their first-ever quarterfinal appearance.
“This year, we came back with a lot of polish,” she said. “We changed our style quite a bit.”
With a dark finale set list that included Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River,” The Civil Wars’ “Barton Hollow,” and Joe Cocker’s “Cry Me a River,” the group of 17 performed in a way Taylor said was vastly different than the pop-based routines they competed against.
“We brought a really rootsy sound that stood out a lot,” Taylor said.
Whether through their darker styled performance or not, the Belmont team had just enough points to get the win. They beat UNC-Chapel Hill Loreleis by five points and defeated other groups from NC State, Elon and UNC-Greensboro universities.
Now, Taylor said the group will prepare for their upcoming concert while getting ready for the semifinals a few blocks over at Vanderbilt.