The 31st Annual D.C. A Cappella Festival (DCAF) featured seven local a cappella groups for a two-night event in Gaston Hall on Nov. 3 and 4.
DCAF, co-hosted by the Georgetown GraceNotes, the premier a cappella group for women and gender minorities, and the Georgetown Phantoms, the premier all-gender group, performed for Georgetown University students and the Washington, D.C., community while honoring their a cappella alumni by ending the night with sings joining current and past members.
Other Georgetown groups who performed were the Chimes, the oldest a cappella group; the Capitol G’s, the premier low-range a cappella group; the Saxatones, the a cappella group devoted to community service; and Superfood, the only competition group. The festival also hosted Treble in Paradise, American University’s first all-women and non-binary a cappella group.
DCAF featured varying songs, ranging from a medley of Taylor Swift’s “Lover” album by the GraceNotes to a performance of “I’m Just Ken” from the movie “Barbie” by the Chimes.
Lauren Repella (CAS ’26), co-president of the Phantoms, said DCAF is an important event for the Phantoms and a cappella community.
“DCAF is one of my favorite events of the year that we do,” Repella told The Hoya. “It was just really rewarding, especially to see the families and alumni come back and enjoy it and see how the community extends past Georgetown.”
Alexandra Lenehan (MSB ’25), the president of the GraceNotes, said she has seen DCAF grow over the course of two years.
“I think post-COVID that music has really grown at Georgetown,” Lenehan told The Hoya. “And I think that it’s so fun to see everyone have so much fun on stage and perform these amazing, incredible arrangements with such a wide range of music. I think this year, we did really well with a turnout — both nights had a really great crowd.”
According to Kayla Barnes (SFS ’26), the business operations manager for the GraceNotes, the first night of DCAF sold 70 additional tickets at the door. Barnes said this was exciting for her and the other a cappella groups performing.
“Students have been showing up to see DCAF,” Barnes told The Hoya. “So many people bought tickets at the door, and so I was like, ‘Oh, people actually want to come see this!’ So I was very excited.”
Lenehan said welcoming guest groups to perform is one of the top goals of each DCAF. Lenehan said the GraceNotes were particularly excited to welcome Treble in Paradise to DCAF because the two groups have similar compositions of all women and gender minorities.
“I think building those relationships with Treble in Paradise and not only the groups within Georgetown but also other groups in different campuses is something that has been really special for me to witness,” Lenehan said.
Both the GraceNotes and the Phantoms welcomed alumni to join on stage and sing the final song of the night. GraceNotes alumni sang “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” a song passed down by the group every DCAF. The Phantoms sang “Africa” by Toto, a tradition extending to the first DCAF in 1991.
Lenehan said her favorite part about DCAF is the welcoming of alumni because it strengthens the relationship between AlumNotes, or graduated members, and BabyNotes, the newest members, especially with the release of their next album, State of Grace II.
“This year, our AlumNotes shared photos, recorded music, and memories from their time in the GraceNotes,” Lenehan said. “It was such a special moment for us.”
Samhi Vellala (CAS ’24), the other co-president of the Phantoms, said singing “Africa” together represents the continuation of the tradition while teaching new members the importance of celebrating alumni.
“I think the tradition is just so important because it was the first arrangement we had as a group,” Vellala told The Hoya. “I think just the fact that it’s something that every single Phantom, regardless of what year you are, one of the first songs that you learn when you first come into the group. It just immediately becomes part of one of the core songs that you know as a Phantom.”
Vellala said DCAF represents the months of hard work that every group puts into the show while becoming a bonding experience for everyone involved.
“I think it was such a learning experience,” Vellala said. “Understanding how to navigate logistics and also being able to interact with the presidents of the other groups was really fun as well. I think it brought us all closer.”
Lenehan said seeing the collaboration between a cappella groups and the continuance of the DCAF tradition represents the presence and history of a cappella at Georgetown.
“The overarching theme of the relationship is collaboration. And I think that’s how we’re able to put on a show that is in Gaston Hall and has all the different groups and so many moving parts,” Lenehan said. “These past few years have been so much fun planning and performing in DCAF, and I can’t wait for next year.”