A Note From Executive Producer Alexander Koutzoukis

This is my third year working with BOSS in some capacity — my second as Executive Producer — and I’ve never been more excited for the weekend to start. We talk about revolution, pushing boundaries, and changing the way people think about a cappella, and this year we have more of that than ever.

Kicking things off on Friday night, our Collegiate Competition: Emily Flanders, our Competition Coordinator and Concert Producer, has come up with my favorite competition format ever. Four groups, three themes each, no eliminations. The audience will get to experience a show that flows from song to song, group to group, back and forth, featuring everything from original music to songs performed in complete darkness to voices augmented with technology live on stage. And to top it off, the show will feature two outstanding high school groups as hosts and performers.

Saturday and Sunday’s workshops have cut some clutter and will give our attendees more opportunity than ever to interact with our instructors on a personal level, picking their brains and learning every tidbit of knowledge they can. Plus, building on the previous years’ live Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) presentations, Saturday afternoon has a dedicated CARA Banquet with distinguished guests from all over the world, where we’ll also present the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award to Rockapella.

Speaking of Rockapella, I feel like my life has come full circle now. I can remember carrying around my Walkman as a kid with nothing but my “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?” Rockapella cassette. Last year I got into a conversation with Jeff Thacher about their song “Capital” (still one of my favorites), and now here we are, with these guys, ever-evolving and nothing like the Rockapella I grew up with — except for the incredible caliber of performance and musicality — headlining our Saturday night Pro Concert. And on top of that, we finally managed to get The Rainbows down from Quebec to round out the show. I’ve been fawning after them ever since they competed at the Boston Regional Harmony Sweepstakes two years ago, and they’ve only gotten better since.

All in all, there are simply too many reasons to be excited. I can only hope you all come out of it as fulfilled as I feel imagining it.

BOSS Fashion Forecast Featuring Shams Ahmed & Jessie Litwin


Only four days until the masses strut down the BOSS Red Carpet with a cappella’s finest. Before you start brushing off your paisley cravats and velour platform heels, consider these fashion tips from our “Dress for Success”* instructor Shams Ahmed, with guest Jessie Litwin. Both Shams and Jessie have been members of the Nor’easters from Northeastern University, a group known not only for their talent, but for their spot-on fashion sense.

First off, who’s your personal style icon, male and female?

Jessie: Ryan Reynolds because anything he does is sexy. Rihanna when she’s not trashy. She’s edgy and chic and takes risks.

Shams: Jessie Litwin.

Who do you think looked the best at the Oscars this year?

J: Lupita, duh. I wish I had her body.

S: I didn’t watch the Oscars.

Why are you teaching a class on style?

J: Style is so important and so much fun, I’m happy to share my take on it with others!

S: Because it’s fun and is something people don’t place enough importance on.

Why does a cappella need this? What colors are hot for this year?

J: Your look can help define your sound. If you go out there and perform a killer ICCA set with dark music and cool tones, but you’re wearing pink frills and opaque lilac tights, you are asking the audience to be confused. You have to present your music with your body and your look. In terms of color, I’m all about the sleek, chic neutrals. Black, gray, white, and if I had to add a color I would choose maroon.

S: I think that a lot of groups could get better gigs if they presented themselves well from a visuals standpoint. And I agree Jessie on all the other stuff, too.

Red Carpet question time. Floor length or tea length for girls?

J: Depends. On stage? Not floor length, show your legs! Offstage, floor length can be fun!

S: I’m confused.

Bow ties or neckties?

J: Again, depends. On stage? Bow ties. Off stage, look sexy in a tie, please.

S: I say both for on stage but off stage please go for bow. Especially in a fun print or color! (But keep the shirt neutral and don’t get crazy.)

Vests for guys, yes/no?

J: Why not?

S: Vests are great, especially for boys who don’t own irons/boys in general.

What’s the best pattern/color for a tux?

J and S: Please no pattern. Black. Don’t mess it up.

What’s an absolute NO for the red carpet?

J: Nip slip. You don’t need to show too much skin. Show some cleavage OR some sexy back, one or the other. Leave the rest up to the imagination.

S: Wear something you feel good in from all angles! You never know if someone’s taking a secret selfie or a “candid” shot of you.

Must-have accessory for guys/girls?

J: For girls, it’s KILLER shoes.

S: ^Since when have shoes become accessories? For guys, it has to be a good tie.

Anything else you want to add?

J & S: Put yourself together every day. Don’t ever miss a day and slack off. You never know who you might meet at any moment; could be a future boss or a future husband or wife. Kill it.

Well, the fashion gurus have spoken. Get yourselves camera-ready, and we’ll see you on the red carpet!

* Dress For Success will be taught by Shams Ahmed and a panel of others on Saturday at 9AM. For the full workshop schedule, click here.

CARA Awards Presentation and Red Carpet Event

The inaugural BOSS introduced the red-carpet, black-tie excitement to the a cappella festival world, and we’ve loved getting fancy with the community ever since. This year, we thought we’d up the ante a little and go full-on Banquet style: Professional catering and the live CARA presentation. Well, we’ve heard from some of you, and we’re making a few adjustments to make this part more accessible:

– The CARA Banquet is now all ages. No more 21+, no more IDs at the door. Bring your family, bring a date, and don’t worry about squeezing dinner plans into a busy Saturday, because we’ve got it covered. (And bring the kids, because ages 6 and under are free!)

– The Red Carpet as you’ve known it will be in full effect before the Pro Concert. Paparazzi included, so get dressed up and get in early: Buying a Red Carpet Add-On also gets you priority access when doors open at 7:30pm, meaning you’ll get first dibs at seating for the concert, too.

– In case you were wondering: Your CARA Banquet ticket also gets you onto the Red Carpet. And not only that, but you’ll get priority access straight to the front of the line (and seats).

[Don’t forget: CARA Nominees should email sara@casa.org for your discount!]

Wondering why you really want to be at the Banquet? Here’s a refresher:

– Live CARAs. Be the first to know who wins the biggest honors. (Will it be you?)
– NOMS. Don’t go crazy trying to find someplace to eat in the Back Bay, just take it easy with us.
– Mingle with the pros. Rockapella and The Rainbows will be there before the big show.
– Meet original members of Rockapella and watch the presentation of their Lifetime Achievement Award. No joke. This is a big deal.

Maybe you just passed that one over because it was last, but go back and read it, then get your tickets. We can’t wait to see you there, and yes, we’re judging your shoes.