As usual, the VoCals did Freshman Move-In Day performances in dorms and all over campus. And it was a good thing, because this is how Thomas Henry and his parents found out about the group! They worked hard to publicize All Hail A Cappella by manning booths at various events during the first two weeks of school.
The Second Annual “All Hail A Cappella” concert was followed by a “VoCollege” kick-off party at the house. You must admit — it was a brilliant way to recruit prospective members. Fall 2009 also marked the premiere of the TV show, GLEE, featuring a high school glee club that basically tried to be the VoCals. The VoCals and fans noticed the similarities between repertoires and arrangements, but the group took it for what it was: flattery.
Despite strong promotional efforts, the auditions and callbacks resulted in just one new member…who decided not to join the VoCals. That left one newbie: Adam Petersen, who had been taken at the late Spring auditions.
The alumni/newbie rehearsals were getting bigger with each semester. The 2008 ICCA victory and the 2009 album release just made alumni more excited about meeting each phenomenal new member of the family. So, after a traditional dinner at La Barca, the alumni stumbled back to the house to freak out the newbie with warnings like “this group will change your life” and pledges of everlasting love. Fortunately, Eric had been in the group for a while, so he didn’t bolt for the door.
But alumni weren’t the only ones paying attention to the VoCals. NBC was working on a new reality TV show called The Sing-Off, featuring a cappella groups that would compete for a recording contract. They wanted The VoCals to be on the show, badly. Specifically, they wanted the 2008 ICCA-winning group to be on the show. But by this point, half of the National Championship VoCals had graduated, and the remaining members were enrolled as full-time students. They couldn’t just take ten or six or even three weeks off to tape a television show in the middle of a semester. The University refused to let the students make up finals later, and no one was very comfortable with NBC calling a group of mostly alumni “The SoCal VoCals”. NBC didn’t want a large group, anyway, so someone would be asked to sit out. The hours would be brutal, and the producers’ scheduling accommodations didn’t go far enough. It just didn’t make sense for the current students unless they were all willing to drop courses.
Those available from the Spring 2008 group pulled in a few other alumni and one brave member of the current group, Kelley Jakle. They dubbed themselves “The SoCals”. The name was particulary amusing after years of hearing it mistakenly applied to the VoCals, but the SoCals had a lot going for them. The judges loved them and recognized their vocal talent, energy and stage presence. The SoCals made a respectable showing on The Sing-Off and proved that collegiate a cappella experience transfers quite nicely to the professional stage.
In the Fall of 2009, the VoCals also:
– Held a retreat
– Opened for Ben Bram and Jordan Pharoah at Ground Zero
– Performed at the California Club for a French wine group
– Entertained at the Trojan Parents Weekend showcase at Ground Zero
– Appeared at the NIKE Human Race at the Coliseum
– Sang in a Halloween concert with the Trojan Men and Sirens, only this year, they dressed as vampire school children
Needless to say, VoCalloween IV was —
wait for it…
In November, the VoCals appeared at the 14th Annual SCAMfest in Pomona, Save Tommy Night, a gig for Pat Park in San Diego, and a Booth family event in Pasadena.
The semester ended with another handful of gigs (Asanti, Pat Haden, University Club in Pasadena) and the beloved SoCal Vo-HO-HO-Cal Concert at UUC church, though there are some discrepancies in reports of the exact name over time (HO-HO-HO-Cal vs VO-HO-HO-Cal. The crowd at UUC was standing room only, as usual, and many alumni returned for the show and reception.
The spring semester of 2010 saw the VoCals gearing up for a much anticipated competition semester. The previous fall, they had decided they would again go for the ICCA title and re-crown themselves ICCA Champions. It was a long road, full of hard work and lots of rehearsing. Much was to be done: costume decisions, solo auditions, choreography, and lots of cleaning. But before all of that could begin, the VoCals had to choose their set. After a long, arduous decision process, they came out with what would prove to be the perfect ICCA-winning set. Their first song would be an old jazz standard “God Bless the Child,” as performed by Billie Holiday, their second song would be an acoustic rendition of “Crazy Ever After” by the Rescues, and their closer was a show-stopping cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City. Somewhere in the midst of the whirlwind that was ICCA preparation, the VoCals held spring auditions and picked up four incredible newbies! Will Goldman, Alex Hamm, Lexie Lowell, and Tory Stolper did not perform with the VoCals in quarterfinals, but they jumped right into the group’s set afterwards and Lili Fuller worked them seamlessly into the choreography. These newbies gave the VoCals a full wall of sound that would eventually help carry them through to the ICCA Championship.
After almost a month straight of grueling rehearsals, the VoCals were finally ready for Quarterfinals. Performing on USC’s own Bovard stage, the VoCals took out the competition and placed first, also nabbing the award for Outstanding Choreography—thanks to choreographer and close friend Lili Fuller.
Once the VoCals were through to Semifinals, the real work started. After taking time to tweak the arrangements and choreography, as well as work in the newbies, the VoCals produced a fantastic product that they took to Semifinals. Also on the Bovard stage, the VoCals again took first place and this time took home the awards for Best Arrangement (Dan Payson-Lewis and Stacy Burcham for “Crazy Ever After”) and Outstanding Soloist (Emily Goglia for “God Bless the Child”). Elated and excited to be going on to represent the entire West Coast in the ICCA Finals in New York City and to get back on the Lincoln Center Stage, the VoCals celebrated. Hard.
New York City proved to be a fantastic experience for the VoCals. Having practiced, rehearsed, sung, danced, and talked the set into their brains to the point where they knew it like the back of their collective hand, the SoCal VoCals were ready to take the stage. Performing their set on the Lincoln Center stage was such a rush—the memory is almost a blur! The VoCals performed a great set, receiving a standing ovation in Alice Tully Hall at New York City’s famous Lincoln Center. Receiving a final score of 445—more than 100 points more than the second place finisher, the SoCal VoCals became the ICCA Champions. Again. As one of only two groups in history to ever win the ICCA’s twice, the VoCals secured their legacy as one of the most celebrated and decorated groups in the history of collegiate a cappella.
Though the ICCA journey dominated the semester, Spring 2010 also had other items on the docket. Retreat in spring 2010 had to be a little bit later due to preparations for Quarterfinals, but it proved to be on the wilder side of notorious VoCal retreats. The VoCals also had gigs at Ground Zero, Explore USC, Songfest, a beautiful gala in Glendale, and a bitterweet goodbye to Emily, Ben, Adam, Kenton, and David Morgenthaler at the 2010 Senior Sendoff concert, where they performed the 2010 ICCA Championship set for the last time. They also threw wild and successful VoCalentine’s (February) and VoCaliente (May) parties. Then, they wrapped up the semester with a photo shoot of the ICCA-winning group and recording for the new EP, which took the VoCals into summer. Just like that, the VoCals were ready to gear up for a new semester.