The University of Colorado Denver’s Commercial Voice Program swept Saturday’s Mile High Vocal Jam competition at the King Center. MIX and the 9th Street Singers took first and second place, respectively, in the competition of top collegiate and high school a cappella groups.
A video audition guaranteed MIX a spot in the 10-group competition — five college, five high school — while the 9th Street Singers earned one of two collegiate “wild card” slots for the evening competition. The 9th Street Singers, an ensemble that trains performers for MIX, ended up competing against MIX, making for an all-CU Denver finale. In the end, MIX was crowned the winner and 9th Street the runner-up.
“Performing in front of a sold-out crowd is always flattering and energizing,” said MIX member Michelle Ghun. “So much of what the group does is based on what we get back from the audience, and being able to perform in front of the community is always gratifying.”
MIX ended the three-year championship run of Denver University’s IdioSINGcracies. Making the victory all the sweeter was the one-two tandem with the 9th Street Singers.
“Most of us in MIX have spent time singing in 9th Street, and it was a moment that made us incredibly proud of them as well as our director, Erin Hackel (DMA, head of Commercial Voice), whom we all attribute so much of our success,” Ghun said. “It was a win for us, her, and the university overall.”
The Mile High Vocal Jam win is just the latest in a series of triumphs for nationally renowned MIX. Last fall, MIX was one of just six college a cappella groups to qualify for the prestigious SoJam Festival where they finished runner-up. The group has also qualified for the quarterfinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella for the third straight year.
The ICCA finals were made famous in the hit movie “Pitch Perfect,” but this time the competition will continue without CU Denver. With the quarterfinals and Mile High Vocal Jam scheduled the same weekend, MIX opted to stay home and compete in front of their hometown fans. Besides Ghun, the group’s members include Daniel Bailey, Chris Kimmel, Luis Sandoval, Vanessa Spear Paletta, Gabriel Kitzman, Kaia Nutting and Emma Wallingford.
Ghun noted that MIX practices more than nine hours a week. “I think what might have set us apart is that our group has very incomparable relationships between each and every member,” she said. “We’ve spent a lot of time getting to know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, pet peeves, comforts, vulnerabilities, backgrounds, and personalities — both musically and personally.”
MIX also recently submitted a video audition to be a part of the BOSS A Cappella Festival in Boston in early April.
The grind of competitions can be wearing, but the group remains centered and spirited in its approach to the competitive circuit. “Realizing that you can still achieve titles without compromising your own message is important, and we got to finally experience that for ourselves,” Ghun said.
A video of MIX’s win at the Mile High Vocal Jam can be viewed here.