Lopes prep for this weekend’s Arizona Acapella Festival with rousing hour of music Tuesday at Thunderground
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
A quartet who capped on each other… before hitting perfect notes with each other.
A new emcee who introduced everyone… including her own solo.
And an appreciative crowd to fill up Thunderground for an hour. Almost exactly an hour.
In their final ‘bring-up-the-lights’ preparations before they host the Arizona Acapella Festival (AZAF) this coming weekend, Grand Canyon University Club Acapella dazzled a packed house at Thunder Alley Tuesday night with their GCU Spring Showcase. The squad sent nine different acts to the stage over the 54-minute concert to perform 11 separate songs and two ‘mashups’ (medleys). The balance of the team was also evident, since they featured four soloists who were also part of a total of five group acts.
With their emcee of the last few showcases now graduated, GCU Club Acapella President Sedona Tracey took over the duties of master of ceremonies for the evening, and didn’t waste much time in introducing the group Noteworthy, who got the crowd into the spirit with a mashup that included “Stand By Me”. That segued into a pair of soloists, who began a stretch of slow songs for the event, as Matteo Sabato performed “Slow Dancing in the Dark”, and Cassidy Legros followed with “Make You Feel My Love”. The group Defying Melody continued the tone with a version of Imagine Dragons’ ‘Believer’, and a perennial fan favorite, the barbershop quartet Thunder Alley Boys, even slowed it down with versions of “Shine on Me” and “Bright Was the Night.”
“We want to ease our audience into it, and then give them a smash hit at the end,” said Tracey. “Thankfully, our soloists had a lot of balance, so it made for a smooth transition.”
“When you’re crafting a program such as this, we’re really trying to emphasize variety,” added GCU Club Acapella Head Coach Philip Carr. “So we started slow – knowing that we wanted to end really upbeat.”
It was up to one of the club’s feature groups that Tracey is a part of, Acalopella, to liven things up, and they didn’t disappoint, performing a rousing version of Panic! At the Disco’s ‘This is Gospel’. The all-female group, the Tone Commandments, then gave one of the top performances of the night with “Hills and Valleys”, before Tracey the Emcee introduced Tracey the Soloist, who even had a young girl in the audience imitating her moves during her version of Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank U Next’. That was followed by an emotional version of ‘Used to Be Mine’ in the final solo of the night by Holly Beemer.
The team’s two top groups returned to close out the night. Thunder Alley Boys got more up-tempo – and more comedic in taking good-natured shots at each other between songs – as they performed an old favorite, ‘Driving Me Crazy’; then introduced the new ‘Goodbye World’. Acalopella finished things off with a mashup of three songs: ‘Love Never Felt So Good’, ‘The Middle’ and ‘Treasure’. Carr ended the night by giving heartfelt thanks to Tracey, who graduates at the end of the month; the rest of the group, who was given a nice round of applause by the crowd; and the crowd themselves for the support they’ve given in the fall and spring concerts.
While this showcase would normally close out the year for the troupe, there’s still one more big item on the agenda, since they were awarded the right to host the AZAF for the first time ever this Saturday, April 6. The event will bring the acapella groups from all four major universities in the state together with groups from two southern Arizona-based high schools – Walden Grove and Ironwood Ridge – for an all-day festival. It will feature breakout sessions throughout the day at the brand-new Canyon Activity Center and the Colangelo College of Business on campus, and will culminate with a concert featuring the groups starting at 5 pm at the CAC.
So how much of the Spring Showcase’s content get chosen in preparation for AZAF?
“All of it!” said Carr. “Every group that sang (except the barbershop quartet) will compete this weekend. We didn’t advertise this as practice because it obviously was a performance, but at the same time, it was preparation for the weekend.”
“Nothing can prepare to getting on the stage with lights and a crowd and singing on mics,” Tracey added. “We just normally practice in our rooms, so this has really prepared for Saturday’s AZAF, and made us excited.”
The 5 pm concert Saturday is open to the public, and admission is FREE.