Vega Headlines at National Kettering A Cappella Festival

For the first time since 2014, Vega, one of CJ’s two a cappella groups, earned the opportunity to be one of only eight groups selected to headline at the National Kettering A Cappella Festival on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.

The National Kettering A Cappella Festival takes place at Fairmont High School and is the premier educational event for a cappella music nationwide. Over the course of two days students at the high school and collegiate levels perform for their peers and participate in masterclasses and clinics with a cappella professionals. Each year a nationally known group headlines the show and works with students to hone their a cappella skills. Past groups include Delilah, The Exchange, and even Pentatonix, a Grammy Award winning group and winner of “The Sing-Off” on NBC.

Vega recorded and submitted a video of their set in order to enter the running to headline in the opening showcase on Friday. A few weeks after submission they learned they had been one of only eight groups selected to perform in the show out of dozens of entries at both the high school and collegiate level. After much excitement, they quickly got to work enhancing their performance skills, incorporating choreography, and repping their set to solidify a great show. All this hard work paid off when it was show time.

“Vega came out and showed why they deserved to be on that stage,” said Angelo Knight ‘18, director of Vega and Vega alumni. “From their dynamics, to their physical presence on stage, to their vocal technique, they truly went above and beyond what even I thought they were going to do. I am so proud of them and all the work and passion they put into this.”

Due to the impact of the pandemic, this was the first National Kettering A Cappella Festival since 2019 which meant that for many members of the group this was uncharted territory. 

“As a first year in Vega, I didn’t know what to expect going into it,” said Aspen Grey ‘23. “I think headlining and being the first group from CJ to do so since 2014 put a lot of pressure on us to make sure we did it right. That being said, I don’t think I’d have it any other way. I grew closer with my group because of it and that won’t be changing any time soon.” 

With Friday being a huge success, Vega was excited to begin learning more about their craft the following day during their clinics and masterclasses. Vega had the opportunity to learn one-on-one with Rob Dietz, the co-founder of A Cappella Academy, the only international a cappella camp, and head of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).

“Working with acapella professionals was truly an honor,” said Olivia Cotton ‘23. “To be able to learn from those who have been able to dedicate their life to a cappella and be successful is a dream. Meeting and working with mentors and artists I have always looked up to was incredibly beneficial to my growth process and the group's growth. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to learn from those who constantly model the goal of success, love, and dedication to a cappella.”

Phoenix, another a cappella group representing the CJ Eagles, also had an opportunity to join the festivities and learn from their musical peers and a cappella professionals. 

“We learned a lot about dynamics and how to blend with each other,” said Kelly Stewart ‘26. “I really enjoyed the festival and seeing different and unique groups all while forming a closer bond with my own group!”

Both groups left with an excitement and eagerness to continue growing their a cappella skills. 

“What makes me the most excited is how they all seem to have a renewed sense of inspiration and passion to keep working to be better musicians,” said Adelyn Helms ‘15, director of Phoenix.

Come see Vega, Phoenix and all performing arts ensembles during their next on-stage performance Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. for CJ’s annual Christmas concert. 

Vega members include: Reese Hawkins '24, Adriana Perez-Rosa '26, Aja Potts '23, Aspen Grey '23, Olivia Cotton '23, Evanson Good '23, Nicholas Sabbagh '23, Ian Stewart '23