CU Denver’s MIX a cappella group captured the top prize as college winner in Macy’s All-School A Cappella Challenge. The challenge invited elementary school, high school and college a cappella groups to submit their rendition of “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5. The $25,000 top prize was presented to MIX at a surprise reveal on Nov. 13 at the CU Denver Arts Building.

CU Denver MIX receives top prize in the Macy's A Cappella Challenge.
CU Denver MIX receives top prize in the Macy’s A Cappella Challenge. (From left to right: Chris Kimmel, Cody Carbone, Kameshia Hazard, Daniel Bailey, Mike Tritsch, Aaron Daniels, Renee Davis, Emma Wallingford, and Andy Vecchio)

Andy Vecchio, director of stores for Macy’s in Colorado, noted during the award presentation that thousands of entries were submitted from a cappella groups across the nation between Sept. 8 and Oct. 9. Submissions were judged by Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Pentatonix, who chose winners in elementary school, high school and college categories.

MIX members were surprised at the announcement.

“We always submit for different things, and you never know when it is going to come back,” said Kemeshia Hazard, the senior music business major who provided the lead for the performance. “It was shocking, but to know that all of the hard work paid off feels great!”

MIX’s arrangement of “I Want You Back” was imagined by Aaron Daniels, who wanted to retain the song’s original melody while giving listeners a new experience.

“I knew we didn’t want to go with the typical progression,” said Daniels, a senior majoring in recording arts and business management. “I wanted to put a jazz taste on it.”

“It’s unbelievable,” Daniels added on MIX winning top national honors. “It’s a life-changing experience, and to be able to share this with people you spend a lot of time with is amazing.”

MIX’s artistic director, Assistant Professor Erin Hackel, was enthusiastic about the group’s work and praised CU Denver’s College of Arts and Media for providing creative opportunities and support for its students.

“This award is a huge honor,” Hackel said. “MIX has put in a great deal of hard work to become the group they are today. It feels wonderful that a large audience will recognize the work ethic and talents of our a cappella groups, and what a supportive, creative environment the College of Arts and Media provides for its people.”

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