Our team consists of award-winning music educators, professional singers and vocal percussionists, and some of the most successful a cappella directors in the world.
Brody McDonald is the director of choirs at Kettering Fairmont High School in Dayton, Ohio. His choirs have performed regularly at OMEA, ACDA Central Division and ACDA National conferences. In addition, they have performed with international artists such as Kenny Rogers, LeAnn Rimes, The Beach Boys, Kenny Loggins and Rockapella.
His award-winning a cappella group, Eleventh Hour, is the first high school group to be featured on NBC’s The Sing-Off and was featured on ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition. They recently won a gold medal in the 2012 World Choir Games, which is considered the Olympics for singing groups. Eleventh Hour’s studio recordings have been included numerous times on Best of High School A Cappella, the prestigious SING compilation, and have won CARA awards for Best High School Album and Best High School Song.
Brody is at the forefront of the high school a cappella movement, serving as a founder and vice-president of the A Cappella Education Association (AEA). He has presented at numerous educational conferences on pop a cappella in the high school, and regularly lectures on the topic for ACDA chapters throughout the Midwest. He is the author of “A Cappella Pop: A Complete Guide to Contemporary A Cappella Singing“, published by Alfred Music. Brody is also on the faculty at Wright State University, where he directs the a cappella group ETHOS.
Born in San Francisco, California, Deke Sharon has been performing professionally since the age of 8, and as a child toured North America and shared the stage in operas with the likes of Pavarotti. Heralded as “The Father of Contemporary A Cappella,” he is responsible for the current sound of modern a cappella, having created the dense vocal-instrumental sound in college, subsequently spreading it around the world.
As the founder, director and arranger for the House Jacks, the original “Rock Band Without Instruments,” Deke has shared the stage with countless music legends, including Ray Charles, James Brown, Crosby Stills and Nash, Run DMC, The Temptations, LL Cool J and the Four Tops, and performed for luminaries including President Bill Clinton. The House Jacks have eight albums, and dozens of international tours to their names, including multiple appearances Carnegie Hall, and performed the Monday Night Football Theme with Hank Williams Jr. in 2011.
Deke produces “The Sing-Off” worldwide (USA, Netherlands, China), which had the highest ratings of any new, unscripted television show in the US in 2009, and was the third highest rated show on NBC in 2010. In addition, Deke served as arranger, on-site music director and vocal producer for Universal’s “Pitch Perfect” starring Anna Kendrick (2012).
Christopher M. Diaz is a graduate of the Florida State University School of Music with a Bachelor’s in Vocal Performance. There, he led the co-ed All-Night Yahtzee to three consecutive ICCA Finals appearances from 2006-2008 and is a two-time winner of the Outstanding Soloist award.
Christopher’s voice and arrangements have appeared on compilations such as Voices Only, BOCA, SING, and Voices Only Forte, and have been nominated for numerous Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards.
As a coach, Christopher has adjudicated, sung and instructed at vocal festivals around the country and world.
In 2012, Christopher joined the vocal coaching and arranging staff of The Sing-Off. Since the show, Christopher has co-founded the international touring group, The Exchange, which has performed hundreds of shows for audiences in over 25 different countries on 6 continents. In Spring of 2013, The Exchange joined the American boy band The Backstreet Boys as support for their 32 city “In A World Like This” stadium tour. And in winter 2015, Christopher and The Exchange competed on Season 5 of NBC’s The Sing-Off, taking the runner-up title, and joining VoicePlay and Street Corner Symphony for The Sing-Off Live Tour 2015.
Dave Sperandio has been working with a cappella music for more than 20 years as a performer, producer, and promoter. His work has helped to define and support the contemporary a cappella world for more than a decade.
Dave founded the a cappella production company diovoce in 2000. In 2011 Dave formed Vocal Mastering, and he currently works with producers and artists from all around the world. His production work has afforded him the opportunity to work with many talented artists, including Pentatonix, Ben Folds, Peter Hollens, Home Free, Delilah, Hyannis Sound, Street Corner Symphony, ARORA, Brendan James, and Anoop Desai.
Dave’s clients have been recognized by all of the “best-of” compilations, receiving over 150 appearances on the BOCA, CAMO, Voices Only, and ‘Sing’ series. Dave and his clients have received hundreds of Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards and “Picks of the Year” from the Recorded A Cappella Review Board, both as a performer and while “behind the glass”.
Ingrid Andress is a singer/songwriter based in Nashville, TN, who began her music career studying vocals and music composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. It was there when joined the college’s a cappella group, Pitch Slapped, and was able to compete with them on NBC’s The Sing-Off for Season 2, which ultimately lead to the formation of Delilah, for Season 3. As a soprano for Delilah, Ingrid has been involved in various television shows and a cappella festivals around the world.
While at Berklee, Ingrid was selected for a songwriting class taught by iconic pop songwriter, Kara DioGuardi. After a year of writing and moving to Nashville, Ingrid landed a publishing deal with Dioguardi’s Los Angeles company, Arthouse, and one of Nashville’s highly esteemed publishing companies, Sea Gayle. She currently splits her time in LA and Nashville, collaborating with varied pop artists/writers and producers.
Marketing & Curriculum
is the Director of Fine Arts at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, TN. He is currently a candidate for the DMA in Choral Conducting Degree at the University of Kentucky. He was chosen by the board of the TN Music Educators Association as the 2011 Outstanding Young Music Educator.
A leader in the contemporary a cappella movement, Frizzell is the co-founder and President of The A Cappella Education Association . His high school a cappella group, OneVoice, is a SONY Recording Artist, winners of many performing and recording awards around the world. Frizzell has founded three companies, CadenzaOne, The Choir Coach, and I Need Sheet Music.
Richard Steighner is a modern, mysterious Renaissance Man. As the group’s primary beatboxer, Richard is known to many as “Robot,” named for his superhuman ability to create cyberlice sound effects, using only his mouth. Ironically, this mouth magician doesn’t speak much, but Robot doesn’t need words to captivate a crowd. Before the song starts, Richard has already drawn in his audience with his timeless good looks and his quiet intensity. But the downbeat flips Robot’s switch to on and unleashes his raw, off-the-wall, explosive energy. Not to be limited to “the drums,” Richard impresses with his earthy, honest rockabilly solo voice. The story behind Robot’s intrigue began in the mountains of Colorado, where his creative bent found many outlets. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture and Psychology from the University of Colorado, taught himself rock guitar, started his own furniture company, and became a master web designer. How Richard manages to morph all this creativity into one human being will likely remain an unsolvable mystery.
Ben Spalding is the head Choral Director at Centerville High School in Centerville, Ohio. At Centerville, Ben directs all of the choirs and the a cappella group Forte. Under his direction the number of students involved with the program has more than doubled. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Kentucky.
Ben has served as a CARA judge as well as a judge for the ICCA’s. The past two years Forte has placed 2nd in the nation in the ICHSA (International Championship of High School A Cappella). Forte received 5 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards this year, winning for Best High School Album.
Shane Coe is a freelance choreographer, adjudicator and clinician based in Columbus, Ohio. Shane is a graduate of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Popular Culture and a minor in music. He currently choreographs for many show choirs across the country and has won many best choreography awards working with these groups.
Shane has also choreographed for collegiate operas, musicals, A Cappella groups and barbershop choruses. He was a member of the BGSU Men’s Chorus as well as a founding member of the Pop – A Cappella group, the HeeBeeBGs. While with the HeeBeeBGs, he helped the group with best choreography at ICCA.
Alex Phan is the Coordinator of Music and the Director of Choral Activities for the North Olmsted School District. Alex graduated from Avon Lake High School in 2003 and received his bachelor’s degree in choral music education at Bowling Green State University in 2008. He is also a choral arranger for Alfred Publishing, and a clinician and his work is sought after by many middle and high schools, colleges and professional groups around the country.
His charts have been featured on numerous Best of High School A Cappella national compilation albums and have also been nominated for, and received multiple Contemporary A Cappella Recording Association (CARA) awards. He has acted as an Ohio All-State Choir Chair. Alex lives in Lorain with his family, Kaila and their son, Maximus.
Mike Jankowski has been involved in instrumental and vocal music for much of his life. His a cappella career in college consisted of his tenure with The Buffalo Chips,of SUNY Buffalo, where he helped transform the group into a powerhouse in the Mid-Atlantic ICCA region.
During his time with the group, Mike started A Cappella Productions, a live sound and lighting company specifically servicing a cappella music of all types. ACP has now become one of the leaders in live production for a cappella, and Mike continues to push the boundaries of the art form by adapting and changing to the growing demands of his clients and their fan base.
Mike adds performance coaching, vocal training abilities, and not to mention ACP’s complete live rig to the list of reasons why Camp A Cappella is going to be one amazing experience!
Matt Smith is an experienced musician and producer from Western New York active in a cappella music for 15 years.
Matt attended the University of Buffalo where he was an active member of The Buffalo Chips. During his time in the group, he was fortunate enough to be part of recording a BOCA selected track and back to back ICCA Finals appearances in 2010 and 2011. As a the group’s main vocal percussionist, Matt earned awards and went on to hold VP workshops for local high school and college groups.
In addition to being part of a performing group, Matt also founded A Cappella Productions (ACP) with fellow Buffalo Chip Michael Jankowski in 2008. Over the past seven years, he has helped produce and plan hundreds of live a cappella shows for high school, collegiate, semi-professional, and professional groups.
Matthew Velker has been tuned in to the world of a cappella since the mid-nineties, singing in school choirs beginning in the fourth grade, and continuing to do so in high school. While studying music education at Piedmont College and The University of Southern Mississippi, he laid the foundation for an appreciation for a cappella.
Matthew spends most of his days as a consultant in the water treatment industry and he’s also kept busy in the a cappella world, serving as the director of industry relations for the A Cappella Education Association as well as director of operations for Camp A Cappella. Matthew also has served the CASA various capacities…as a CARA nominator and judge and on the events team at SoJam, BOSS, LAAF, AcappellaFest, and VoCal Nation. He is excited to be returning to Camp A Cappella this summer.
a cappella career started when he founded his first group during his senior year (which failed to ever secure a name). Andy is a graduate of The University at Buffalo with degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. During his junior year, he was accepted into the ranks of The Buffalo Chips. He spent his senior year as the assistant music director for the Chips, lending his services to help create their recent EP, Microchip. During his time at school, Andy began working for A Cappella Productions under Mike Jankowski.
Andy has worked as a musician in Rockland and Westchester Counties and NYC since he was a teen, performing in venues such as The Bitter End, Mexicali Live, the Nikon Theater at Jones Beach, and the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, NYC.
Kristine Slipson is a photographer and a cappella aficionado from Orange County, California. She attended the University of California, Davis and spent her years there as a soprano in a co-ed a cappella group, The Lounge Lizards. After going to the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival with her fellow Lizards, she began to fully immerse herself in the a cappella community. She is now a CASA Ambassador and often works at CASA festivals as the event photographer.
On the video production side of the world, she has gained recognition for her work with Sing-Off champs, Home Free. When she isn’t holding a camera, Kristine is probably directing her Contemporary A Cappella League group, ‘Scenic Root, in which she is also the vocal percussionist.
Drew Wheaton is in his 23rd year as a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society. He is currently the tenor of the International Gold Medalist quartet, Forefront, and director of the Thoroughbred Chorus. Drew holds bachelors degrees in Music Theory and Music education and is currently completing a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Louisville. There he founded the new a cappella group, Cardinal Rule.
Drew is a regular coach of both barbershop quartets and a cappella groups, and has been a clinician at Camp A Cappella, Kettering National A Cappella Festival, Harmony University, and various other a barbershop workshops. He also owns a learning track business at www.AKWRecording.com and resides in Louisville, KY with his wife, Kris.
Christina Smith is currently the Director of Choirs for Mad River Local Schools in Riverside at Stebbins High School and Mad River Middle School. Choirs under her direction have traveled around the Miami Valley and across the United States performing in New York and Florida.
She is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. An active performer, Christina has sung such roles as “Maria” in West Side Story, “Narrator” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and “Maria Rainier” in The Sound of Music. She also has directed several musicals for Stebbins High School, Kettering, Beavercreek, and Normandy UMC in Centerville.
A member of the Ohio Music Education Association for the past sixteen years, she is a busy adjudicator and has served as both a member of the editorial board for the state journal TRIAD as well as the choral committee for the 2007 State Conference.
Joe Whatley was the founder of Vega at Chaminade Julienne, and directed the group for four years. Under his direction the group released 2 studio CD’s, both with tracks selected for BOHSA and Voices Only. Vega has also made the National Finals for ICHSA 2 years in a row and placed 2nd in the nation the second year.
Joe also directs the Remedy a cappella at the University of Dayton. Recently Remedy has qualified for ICCA Great lakes Semifinal. They also placed 3rd in the Harmony Sweepstakes last year. He is now at Winton Woods High School and directs the a cappella groups Evolution and Redemption.
John DeFerraro is the Director of Choirs at Conner HS. He completed his Masters at Western Kentucky University and his Bachelors at the University of Kentucky, where he was a baritone/VP and arranger for the acoUstiKats.
Professionally, John currently serves on the KMEA State Choral Council as the District 2 Choral Chair. Additionally, he is active in the field of contemporary a cappella, serving as a nominator and judge for the CARA Awards, and as the Treasurer and Director of Outreach for the A Cappella Educators Association.
Rachel Chalhoub is excited to be back this summer with Camp A Cappella sharing her talents as a videographer and percussionist.
Rachel C has been the host of Inside A Cappella, performed on NBC’s The Sing-Off with NYC’s Element, and served as The Director of Video Production for The Vocal Company.
If you see her this summer, make sure to smile, cause you’ll probably be on camera!
Matthew Swope is the Director of Choral Activities and Performing Arts Department Chair at Winter Park High School in Winter Park, FL, where he directs Take 7 as well as Naughty Scotty and the Octapella. His choirs have performed at FMEA (2016), Florida ACDA (2011, 2015), and the ICHSA Finals (2012, 2015). Matthew serves on the voice faculty of Rollins College and was a founding member of the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers.
He received the MM degree in Voice Performance & Pedagogy and BA degrees in Music and Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies from Penn State University. Matthew was the 2013 recipient of the Penn State Outstanding Alumni Music Educator Award.
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