CARA Presenters: Jo Vinson

[This is one of a series of profiles on our CARA award ceremony presenters]

WHO: Jo Vinson
AWARD: Best Female Collegiate Arrangement


I’m Jo, and I think you should come to BOSS. And I like to consider myself someone who knows what’s up now and then, which is why you should listen to me. “But who is this Jo person?” you wonder to yourself, “and how come she can tell me what to do with my weekend?”. Well here’s the sitch on me: I tripped and fell into the a cappella world a few years ago when I joined Divisi, the women’s group at the University of Oregon. I was bopping along, singing my part when none of the basses showed up for a gig and I covered their part for the night. I was henceforth never allowed to sing anything else. Then, one day, someone was like, “Hey Jo, you’re alright, wanna join my pro group?” And I thought for a hot second and said, “Sure, as long as you can get me to Boston from Oregon”. And thus, I joined Musae. And then, this dude says to me, “Hey, wanna be on TV?” And I was like, “Well, as long as no one looks at me.” And so I joined Delilah. And THEN…well, never mind what happened next. The point is, all of this happened to me because of one little decision: to get involved with a cappella. What if you were born to beatbox, or arrange songs, or meet Tom Anderson? You’ll never know unless you come to BOSS and find out. Plus, have I mentioned that I’ll be there with my friends? And I’m telling you, I don’t hang with sub-par folk. My people are the best people, and you want to meet them, learn from them, and hear some of ’em sing. BOSS will be a party. A big, dorky, musical, wonderful party where you might just learn a thing or two. Or at least, you know, meet Tom Anderson.

Angela Ugolini: This Could Be Big!

5 years ago, I sat in the “I Make Gold Records” class at SoJam (think BOSS but with Southern accents) in 2007.  I watched producers like Dave Sperandio, Mark Hines, Nick Lyons, Bill Hare, and James Cannon divulge their secrets on how to make an award-winning a cappella album. There could not have been better timing because I knew AcaBelles desperately needed a new CD and I was determined to make it miles better from the last one that we just did in a local studio in Tallahassee. So, I was that girl who sat in the front row frantically taking down every tiny detail that came out of their mouths.

Later that day, I introduced myself personally to Dave (by that point, I had probably emailed him around 18 times about recording the next ‘Belles album because I heard Christopher Diaz was doing the same for All-Night Yahtzee). To my surprise, he recognized me from my Facebook picture and told me that he was going down FSU to do a recording workshop with Yahtzee.  But it wasn’t until after I watched the roof tiles blow off by Fork and Naturally 7’s performance that my life was changed… literally.

A few months later Diaz was nice enough to let me sit in the back of the studio while Dave gave his workshop. I even managed get Lo Barreiro, a former ‘Belle and current BOSS producer, in there with me and after 10 more pages of notes, I knew he was going mix our album too. All I had to do was record and edit it. Did I mention I had never even touched Protools before?

By the next SoJam, I was learning how to actually record the album. I spent hours on the phone with Dave and another engineer, Steve Ryan, asking every question I could think of. They would even send me screen shots of Protools sessions!  With their help I figured it out…eventually.

Why am I telling you this story?  Because I wanted to show you that going to an a cappella festival can actually help jump start your career. You see, that album was nominated for 3 CARA awards. I eventually went to school for audio engineering, but it was a combination of my experience recording the ‘Belles album and a chance encounter between Lo and Mark Hines at another a cappella event in California that scored us two jobs with The Vocal Company.

It’s been 5 years since my first SoJam and I recently found myself sitting in my room listening to the AcaBelles latest release. Except this time, I actually got paid to produce it.  I went from the girl sitting in the festival classroom, to a professional in this community that works on a cappella music as my full time job. You want to start a career in a field you love, right? Come to BOSS, make connections, learn from the best, and one day you could end up working beside the people you idolize.

CARA Presenters: Deke Sharon

[This is a the first in a series of profiles on our CARA award ceremony presenters]

WHO: Deke Sharon
AWARD: Best R&B Song (to be presented via video)

CASA founder Deke Sharon has been singing a cappella since the age of five and spent his formative years with one foot in traditional choral idioms (church choir, San Francisco Boys’ Chorus, madrigal groups, barbershop quartets) and the other in rock bands. The two came together during his tenure as music director of the Tufts Beelzebubs (see photo, circa 1991), and he formed CASA in hopes of creating a community of like-minded acappellaheads.

Often called the “father of contemporary a cappella”, Deke has played a prominent and influential role in the formation of CASA’s many outreach programs. Most recently, he founded the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL), a national network of a cappella groups for post-collegiate and adult singers.

Deke directing the Bubs in 1991

Deke founded and has been singing in the vocal rock band The House Jacks since 1991. The group has produced several full-length albums and completed multiple world tours. He arranges and directs the groups on NBC’s a cappella competition reality show, “The Sing-Off”.

About BOSS, Deke says: “Boston is the mothership. Boston has the greatest density of collegiate a cappella, possibly the greatest density of a cappella singing in general anywhere in the world. It’s about time for a major annual Boston a cappella festival, and BOSS is just that!”

2012 Live Awards Announced

For those of you who have been needing, hoping, yearning to hear what awards we’re going to be announcing live – here you go! While all of the awards will be announced throughout the ceremony, 8 will be presented awards live on stage at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA. Below is the list of awards that will be presented at the Friday Night Competition and CARA Awards Ceremony at BOSS 2012:

  • Best Pop/Rock Album
  • Best Pop Rock Song
  • Best R&B Song
  • Best Male Collegiate Arrangement
  • Best Mixed Collegiate Arrangement
  • Best Female Collegiate Arrangement
  • Best CAL (Contemporary A Cappella League) Album
  • Best High School Album

Stay tuned for more posts on our illustrious presenters, a complete list of whom will be posted soon!

2012 CARA Ceremony Details

Since we know many of you are wondering about it (and some have already been asking), we’d like to clarify some of the specifics about the Live CARA Ceremony as well as what being a CARA nominee at the event entitles you to. For starters, all CARA nominees will be invited to walk the red carpet. All CARA winners will be announced at the event (and will also be posted online immediately following the night’s festivities), but only eight featured awards will receive physical “trophies.” These eight will have someone come up to receive the award in person and have the opportunity to give a thank you speech; the rest of the extended list of winners will receive certificates, as in past years. The event will be BLACK TIE. Get out those fancy dresses and dust off your tuxedos, folks! (And don’t be surprised if the paparazzi sneak some incredible photos of you all dolled up.)

Two members of every CARA-nominated group will receive the full red carpet upgrade, which includes access to the CARA Reception before the big show and preferred seating during the show on top of the stroll down the red carpet. These two members will also be your representatives to accept any award if won. Alumni and album soloists are considered part of their respective groups and can act as representative if the group chooses. Regardless of nomination, you must purchase either an all-access pass or a Friday night ticket to attend the ceremony.

For all CARA-nominated groups who will be attending in whole or part: Please email with full names of your two members who will act as representatives and receive the red carpet upgrade.

Nate Robert (MIT Logs): Feel The Aca-Love

I am currently a junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and I’ve been a member of the MIT Logarhythms (MIT’s all-male a cappella group, “Logs” for short) since my second week on campus. As a kid from a small town in the Midwest, my only notion of a cappella prior to college was old school barbershop. I had absolutely no intention of joining an a cappella group before I came here, and was only barely persuaded by a friend to audition for Logs with him. I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into.

I was thoroughly surprised, but nevertheless ecstatic, when I found out I had made it into the group! Thereafter, I found myself immediately thrust into a community that I had never known could exist – the a cappella community. At first I was completely overwhelmed, and couldn’t understand how or why there could be such an established and intricate network for a cappella. I struggled to keep straight the names of different collegiate groups, the professional groups, who we would contact for CD help, the different competitions and festivals, the seemingly endless list of acronyms (CASA, RARB, BOCA, etc), and how in the world did GLEE fit into the picture!

But as I continued in Logs I eventually started figuring things out, and began to understand just how fantastic the community really is. Through opening for other college groups (and, of course, partying together afterwards) I made friends with students from all over the Northeast. While putting together our newest album this past year (it’s called BAM, check it out on iTunes!) we were helped by people from all over through connections within the a cappella community. Whenever we’ve traveled for tours, there’s always been someone willing to step up and help us find performances, get ideas for the trip, etc. These examples, and many more, have helped me understand just how great the community is. And then, this past fall, we were approached by Meg Alexander and Alex Green about yet another acronym: BOSS.

After Meg and Alex had explained to us the plans and ideas for Boston Sings, we decided to help out in any way possible. We’re excited to be able to give back to the a cappella community that had been so amazing to us in the past. Although the main, nightly events will be held elsewhere, most of the daytime activities will be hosted on MIT’s campus. We’re super pumped to be able to help out with what I know will be a phenomenal event! From the workshops and masterclasses to the concerts and afterparties, it’s going to be a blast. I can’t wait – hope to see you there!

BOSS 2012 Competitors Announced

We are proud to announce this year’s competitors for the BOSS 2012 Competition. Thank you to all the groups who submitted to compete.

The competitors are, in no particular order:

  • Ithacappella from Ithaca College
  • Logarhythms from MIT
  • Men in Drag from University of Chicago
  • Mind the Gap from University of Oregon
  • The Nor’easters from Northeastern University
  • Voices in Your Head from University of Chicago

Congratulations to this year’s selected competitors.

Producer Blog #4: Lauren Barreiro – An Aca-friend is a Forever Friend

Have you ever realized how big our community is?

When I’m not busy having a cappella run my life, I work for a local real estate company. Within my first few weeks of working there, I mentioned the word “a cappella” and our bookkeeper followed up with “Oh you do a cappella? Do you watch ‘The Sing-Off’?” I, of course, giggled a little because not only did I watch “The Sing-Off”, I had friends on “The Sing-Off”. Well it turns out the reason he asked was because he was an alumni of the University of Rochester YellowJackets and had been a member some 20 or 30 years ago.

This is not the only time I’ve made these connections. I’ve been on countless job interviews where the person interviewing me was either in collegiate a cappella or dated someone in a cappella or had a roommate in a cappella. (Pro tip: make sure to include your a cappella experience on your resume… people eat it up!) Or I’ve mentioned that I had to judge something and heard, “I went to BU! Do you know the Dear Abbeys?” Yes. In fact, I’ve cooked for the Dear Abbeys. Or I’ve had girls gushing about those cute Bubs and had the awkward moment of saying “Right… I live with one of them.” But that’s what this community is about. The connections.



Wait a minute, what does this have to do with BOSS?

Well, what better place and time to make these connections than an a cappella festival where there are hundreds of people that just love doing what you love to do? It doesn’t even matter how seriously you take a cappella. Whether it’s just a hobby or something you’re seriously considering as your career, you never know who you will meet.

For all you know, these are the people that will be your best friends for the rest of your life. The guy sitting next to you at the vocal percussion panel will help you get a job in a few years. The kid you met backstage at the collegiate competition, he’ll give you a couch to crash on next time you’re in New York City. That cute girl you met at the after party because you were utterly impressed by her ability to handle a jager bomb, she’s your future wife.

I know from the outside these festivals may seem a little like Comic-Con for a cappella nerds and well… they are. But if it’s not becoming the best that will draw you in (or the utter nerdiness), let it be the people and the community. Let it be the parties and awesome conversations. Let it be the networking and performance opportunities. Let it be the fact that you’ll get to meet people from all around the country and even the world. Let it be the lifelong friends you will surely make. And heck, let it be the cutie you make out with that becomes your future wife or husband. (Let’s be real… it happens.)