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‘VoiceFest’ to Take Center Stage at Wooster Jam on April 13

UPublish story by John Finn

Wooster Jam 2013 will feature the second annual VoiceFest competition, with 11 a cappella groups from nine colleges and universities in Ohio, including “A Round of Monkeys” from The College of Wooster.

WOOSTER, Ohio — A chorus of voices will rise from the Wayne County Fairgrounds on April 13 when Wooster Jam presents VoiceFest, a collegiate a cappella competition featuring 11 ensembles from nine Ohio colleges and universities.

James Levin, founder and director of Wooster Jam, first learned about the popularity of collegiate a cappella groups while producing a variety show at Cleveland Public Theatre several years ago. “The ‘Obertones’ from Oberlin College were there, and they drew a thunderous ovation from the audience,” says Levin. “I forgot about them until the first Wooster Jam two years ago when ‘A Round of Monkeys’ from The College of Wooster performed, and drew a huge crowd. They were the ‘sleeper’ hit of the Jam.”

That was enough to convince Levin to add VoiceFest to the line-up last year. This year promises to be bigger and better with a cash prize of $2,500 for the winner, courtesy of the J.M. Smucker Company. The competition will be judged by a trio of professionals: Steven Daigle, artistic director of Ohio Light Opera; Lisa Wong, assistant professor of music at Wooster and director of The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus; and Mike Chin, commonly known as “Mr. A cappella,” and author of the largest and most widely read a cappella blog in the country.

“There’s something simple but authentic and rich about human voice,” says Levin. “We expect this year’s event to be another big hit. It’s really the only one of its kind in Ohio.”

Featured in the VoiceFest competition will be defending champion “Buck That” as well as “Key of Gee,” both from The Ohio State University. Also participating are “A Sun’s Echo” from Baldwin-Wallace University, “Dhamakapella” from Case Western Reserve, “Kent Clarks” from Kent State University, “Obertones” from Oberlin College, “Rhythm and ‘Roos” from the University of Akron, “The Tempo Tantrums” from Ohio University, “Pitch Black” from Ohio Wesleyan University, and “Round of Monkeys” and “COWBelles”, both from The College of Wooster.

“I really enjoy being able to perform for an audience that is made up of more than just Wooster students, and to receive feedback from a panel of judges,” says Cara Haxo, a senior member of Wooster’s COWBelles. “I'm definitely looking forward to performing again this year.”

The VoiceFest competition will take place in the coliseum between 2-6 p.m. Admission to the event and all other performances at the Jam are free and open to the public.

“We’re one of the few collegiate a cappella competitions in the country,” says Levin, “and the only one to offer such a large cash prize ($2,500), thanks to the generosity of J.M. Smucker Company.”

There will also be a variety of other performing artists, including Northwest Territory, The Twang Cats, The Cedar Valley Cloggers, Taylor Lamborn, and several cast members from Ohio Light Opera.

In addition, there will be a number of visual artists who will sell their items at Wooster Jam, including Jim Register and his beads, candle holders, key racks, and other wood products; Shari Wells-Tabaka and her hardboard-canvas greeting cards and t-shirts; Jack Salesburey and his oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings and ebony drawings; and Marie McGlathery and her jewelry created from recycled paper.

Also participating will be Cher Mitchell with her wall, flower, and butterfly art; Bill Bailey with his ceramic face jugs; Dave Mallow with his record-jacket transformations into pursues, as well as his wire-wrapped jewelry and metal and glass pendants; and Erin Campbell with her southwestern jewelry with animal motifs.

Rounding out the list of visual artists will be Linda Rath and her handcrafted fairy houses made from materials found in nature; Cindy Bethel and her glass etchings and watercolors; Nancy Franck, and her jewelry and acrylic painted skins, feathers, flowers, and wings; and MOCA House Wooster with its arts, crafts, and photography.

For more information about Wooster Jam 2013, visit, or contact James Levin, executive producer, at

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