Georgetown Superfood placed second at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella quarterfinals last week, allowing them to move on to the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Semifinal on March 28.
Superfood member Allie Canal’s (COL ’16) performance of “Say You Love Me” won her the title of Outstanding Soloist. Additionally, Shom Mazumder (SFS ’17) won Best Vocal Percussionist for his beatboxing throughout the competition, which was held at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Last week marked the first time the 18-person group has ever competed in an a cappella competition and the first time a Georgetown a cappella group performed at the ICCAs since 2010.
Canal said that being recognized for their talent at the ICCAs made performing in a competition more satisfying than the usual a cappella performances Superfood participates in at Georgetown.
“I love performing at Cherry Tree and DCAF, but there is something really special about competing with other groups because it shows you how much you have progressed,” Canal said. “It is really rewarding and we faced some tough competition, so it’s a really good feeling to see that we kind of rose to the challenge.”
The ICCAs attract hundreds of a cappella groups each year and runs from January through April in the Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, Northeast, West and Midwest regions of the U.S. Meanwhile, the international competition is held in Europe. The competition allows the groups to perform in large venues around the country in front of thousands of a cappella fans, and receive feedback from experienced judges in each round of the competition, whether they place or not.
Superfood, which was accepted to compete in the ICCAs through a video application process, competed against nine other groups from the Mid-Atlantic region, which spans from the D.C. to Syracuse, N.Y. Superfood placed second after the University of Pennsylvania’s co-ed group, Off The Beat, advancing both groups to the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Semifinal. Georgetown also competed with West Chester University’s High Street Harmonix, Lehigh University’s Off The Record and Drexel University’s The TrebleMakers.
Superfood had three weeks to prepare three songs and learn choreography for the competition. Based on feedback from the judges at the ICCA quarterfinals, the group will work to improve their performance and set before competing in the semifinals. Groups that place first in the semifinals will move onto the finals, which will be held at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on April 18.
Superfood’s success in the ICCAs was unexpected, Canal said. The group graduated four members last year and temporarily lost five members who were studying abroad in the fall. It was down to seven people at the start of last semester but accepted new members this year. Canal believes that the group’s new members have really contributed to Superfood’s progress this year.
“We weren’t sure how this year was going to go, but we ended up getting some amazing freshman and sophomores,” Canal said. “Getting back from abroad and seeing how talented everyone is and how far we have progressed has been a great experience. We’ve grown tremendously and I think that we push our creativity and ourselves to a point that really separates us from the other groups.”
Superfood President Chris Pepe (COL ’15) said he didn’t expect the group would do so well in the competition, especially because of the addition of choreography and lack of time to prepare.
“I honestly kind of thought that we probably wouldn’t advance to the next round because there are a lot of other really talented groups,” Pepe said. “But we still took it seriously because we knew that it would be getting our name out there to a bunch of other groups, to other colleges and to a cappella lovers.”
Pepe said Superfood has improved tremendously over the four years he has been in the group.
“I’ve been wanting to do this since my freshman year and I think the group was finally ready for it this year,” Pepe said. “There’s been a pretty dramatic change in the group. When I first joined Superfood, the group wasn’t very talented because of how much time people in the group wanted to commit to it. It wasn’t always a first priority.”
Ryan Sudo (COL ’17), a musical director of Superfood, said the group’s collective love for music is what really brings the group together.
“Our members come from a diverse set of interests and backgrounds, but when it comes to music, those differences disappear and we’re able to collaborate and make something beautiful,” Sudo said.
Though Superfood performs popular songs, it has a commitment to teaching audiences about new, alternative music, so Sudo and Mazumder are constantly working to come up with original arrangements.
“Superfood takes great pride in its arrangements, and we’ve been working really hard to make them stand out,” Sudo said. “The key part of that has been transforming our songs — trying to take the original and put our own twist on it. I think we’ve excelled in that area and we have a lot of fun doing it.”
Sudo said he was elated to be recognized for all of the hard work Superfood put into preparing for the competition.
“Our group was ecstatic when they announced we had come in second place,” Sudo said. “The caliber of groups that we’ll be competing against at semi-finals is unreal, and to think that Superfood has earned a place among them is a great feeling. It’s definitely nice for the group to be validated after putting in so many hours of practice. We were blown away by the quality of the groups we competed against.”
Despite their nerves, Mazumder was confident that the group would enjoy the competition regardless. Mazumder also said that while the competitive atmosphere made them nervous, it was also extremely motivating for the group.
“Superfood has always known how to have a good time,” Mazumder said. “A lot of people in the group viewed this as a learning opportunity, and I tried not to think about my expectations as much as possible. I thought we were going to do our best and we were going to have fun no matter what. I think there was a lot of nervous energy. We were nervous about the competition but we were also motivated to do our best.”