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audio iconListen to The Earth Tones sing "Send Me on My Way" (mp3 1MB)



UAlbany hosts international a cappella competition

The Earth TonesCollege a cappella is one of the hottest trends on campuses today with over 900 groups across North America already in existence and more forming every semester. On Saturday, February 28th winners of the quarterfinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competitions from all over the northeast will converge on UAlbany to participate in the semifinals. Hosted by UAlbany’s men’s a cappella group, The Earth Tones, the competition will take place in the Main Theatre of the Performing Arts Center beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and will be on sale beginning Wednesday, Feb. 18th at Copies Plus in the campus center or online at: or

Groups competing in the semi finals will be: Chordials (Cornell), Downbeats (Northeastern University), Octopodes (Johns Hopkins University), Sixteen Feet (Swarthmore), Spur of the Moment (Brandeis), Vocal Suspects (Umass-Amherst).

It is estimated that the more than 20,000 singing college students across the country perform in styles that range from Bach to the Beatles to Dave Matthews. Typical of the current a cappella scene, UAlbany has two groups—The Earth Tones (men) and Serendipity (women) -- with commonality in their almost fraternity/sorority-like personae. Auditions are competitive and places coveted. In addition to performance and singing ability, entrepreneurship in marketing, fundraising and promotion is required, with self-produced CDs being the usual main source of revenue.

Thought to have been around for at least a hundred years or so, college a cappella probably originated with the famous Whiffenpoofs of Yale. There have been many famous Americans who sang college a cappella – from Cole Porter (a Whiffenpoof) to actress Mira Sorvino (Harvard’s Veritone’s) to broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer (Wellesley’s Blue Notes.)

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