Fuelled by a fast-catching pop culture movement, a cappella in the United States has gained momentum as one of the most influential musical movements of the decade. From Glee, to Pentatonix, to Pitch Perfect, and everything in-between, there’s no mistaking the impact of voices coming together to a deafening roar in today’s culture. Contemporary and Competitive a cappella have become recognized and renowned musical fields, finding their way into the passions of hearts everywhere.
The vocal community here at the College is great in number and formidable in talent; with well over 12 talented a cappella groups and choirs, there’s no mistaking the pervasive nature of vocal performance on this campus. A cappella showcases and Wren Ten events are popular and well attended by the majority of the student body, as musical appreciation proves itself again and again each semester.
In his third year as an active member of the vocal community on campus, music major Grayson Kilgo ’17 decided to actively seek out the recognition that the vocal talent of this campus truly deserves. Kilgo performs with a summer professional group in the Northeast, and from this experience came to realize a different form of musical expression this offered in contrast to that of William and Mary’s a cappella. He was inspired to expand the reach of W&M’s capacity for performance beyond the bounds of campus, into the world of contemporary and competitive a cappella. Kilgo met with President Reveley to discuss No Ceiling.
Said Reveley, “It seems to me that Grayson and his ensemble are pursuing musical excellence in ways new and different from our campus for the sheer delight of making their music, because it’s exciting and innovative, and with a goal of taking the voice of Tribe students far and wide through the medium of national competition. This is good!”
In founding a new ensemble, Kilgo sought to form a diverse and harmonious blend of voices and personalities from the existing talent of the vocal community. This group, called “No Ceiling,” is not a part of the presiding A Cappella Council, though most members are also a part of Council groups. Kilgo’s connections in the professional a cappella community have allowed for input from arrangers and performers to hone the talents of each of the group members, including special arrangements specifically molded to fit each individual voice and bring the ensemble together.
After only three intensive rehearsals this past October, learning and performing a total number of three songs required to qualify, the members of No Ceiling recorded a submission for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA).
Sponsored by Varsity Vocals, the ICCAs “give college and high school singers the opportunity to interact, compete, learn from each other, get feedback from the pros, and perform in fantastic venues around the globe” (Varsity Vocals). No Ceiling has gained acceptance into the competition, and will be representing William & Mary in the world of competitive a cappella.
With the Quarter-final competition only a few short weeks away, the group is currently hard at work molding their music into a story to be told—a story that is unique to them as a group of individuals, for the chance of recognition and opportunity. “We want to represent a unique sound at the competition—one that will make William & Mary one to remember,” said Kilgo.
The ICCA Quarter-final competition is taking place February 20th at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC; tickets are available through VarsityVocals.com.