They are eight voices that sing as one. No instruments, just voices. And, CU Denver’s a cappella group Mix has proven once again that it ranks among the very best.
Mix, formerly known as UCD 6, has qualified for SoJam, one of the most renowned competitions in all of a cappella. They are one of just six elite groups to make the cut, based on an audition video that wowed the judges.
Erin Hackel, DMA, the group’s director and head of commercial voice in the College of Arts & Media, explains that this was the first year Mix had auditioned for the SoJam Festival, making the result extremely gratifying. “There are many, many entries for just those six spots and this competition has traditionally been very selective,” she said. “So, being one of the chosen few is a really fantastic affirmation and honor.”
In recent years, Mix has finished as a semifinalist and quarterfinalist in other premiere competitions. But, Hackel considers the SoJam qualification to be a real breakthrough. “Qualifying for a competition like this gives us national recognition and really helps put CAM and the Music Department on the map. We are one of the very few schools in the country who are offering this kind of instruction in contemporary singing styles and offering high end a cappella as part of our course offerings.”
Six of the group’s singers are from Colorado towns — from Denver to Durango to Kiowa. And all eight are majoring in some music discipline. Production, business, performance and recording are all listed on their resumes.
Hackel herself received an honor when she was asked to participate at SoJam as a presenter/workshop teacher. She is a vocal performer who sings locally with the Central City Opera’s Outreach Ensemble. She also has received several research grants and has published several articles.
Mix is billed as a competitive, contemporary a cappella ensemble which performs regularly at venues throughout the Denver metro area. Early this fall, the group was the smash-hit opening act at CU Denver’s Back-to-School Block Party. Most recently, they ‘blew the roof off the studio’ when they were featured on FOX 31’s “Everyday” program with Chris Parente. Those performances set the tone, serving as a positive lead up to their big chance at SoJam.
This year’s festival will be served up reality-TV-style for the first time with three possible elimination rounds plus the potential of being eliminated after just five minutes of singing. Hackel calls it a high-stakes, high stress-level format. One she’s confident her Mix singers will excel in.