In a brave new virtual world, from 5,000+ College A Cappella groups, 64 of the nation’s most acclaimed and award winning groups were invited to compete in the unprecedented “UpStagedAID: One World, Every Student Voice™” NCPA A Cappella Championships for $10,000+ in cash prizes for teams and their chosen Social Justice Charity.
Penn Masala is one of five South Asian College groups who fought their way to the top of this NCPA Competition. Formed in 1996, all-male Penn Masala is renowned as the world’s first and leading South Asian A Cappella group, having performed worldwide for celebrity audiences from the White House to the Bollywood Music Awards. Penn Masala is featured in the Hollywood blockbuster Pitch Perfect 2. Their cover of “Any Way You Want It” was part of the Best Soundtrack Winner at the 2015 American Music Awards.
Broadway On Demand, the industry-leading livestream platform in performing arts, will showcase the announcement with Ringling Bros.’ Last Ringmaster, Johnathan Lee Iverson, hosting and Tony Award-winning show Hamilton’s, actor extraordinaire Jared Dixon (Aaron Burr) congratulating the finalists. NPR’s Peabody Award-winning Morning Edition recently announced the semi-finalists:
To reach the Closing Quartet, NCPA Mid-Atlantic Champion Penn Masala dominated fellow NCPA A Cappella All-American, Midwest Region Champion, and Big 10 A Cappella powerhouse Illinois No Comment after stunning last minute come-from-behind victories over NBC’s The Sing-Off competitors Howard Afro Blue and Ivy League rival Princeton Footnotes.
A Penn Masala spokesperson said, “We are delighted to be in these Upstaged Championships. We perform a mashup song of Castle on the Hill and the Hindi song Ilahi. It’s a perfect representation of both Western culture and our South Asian roots. We are supporting Black Men Heal, a local NGO here that works towards mental health.”
Teams are competing for the NCPA A Cappella Championship, NCPA A Cappella All-American status, and $10,000 for teams and their Social Justice Charities. Nearly 150K votes were cast in head-to-head matches to reach the Closing Quartet.
UpStaged Entertainment Group’s Director of Talent, and former Elite Model Management International talent/model executive Victoria Duruh, commented, “Legendary Penn Masala’s popularity across ethnic, racial and cultural boundaries is absolutely remarkable. Their ‘Pitch Perfect’ fame is only a part. Penn Masala led a remarkable dominance of South Asian A cappella Groups in these UpStaged NCPA Championships, one of 5 South Asian Groups, out of 5,000+ Nationwide, that made it to UpStaged’s Round of 32 Notables, and 2 to the Octet Eight. No other A Cappella genre came close to as many representatives, and Penn Masala led with a successful formula of Brains, Beauty and Harmony!”
The Closing Quartet A Cappella Finalists were determined by a panel of esteemed judges: Emmy-winning television choral contest Sing That Thing! (PBS) judge/vocal consultant and Berklee Music Professor Annette Philip; acclaimed vocalist, songwriter, producer, and co-founder of international touring group, The Exchange, Christopher Diaz; and global talent scout, formerly with Elite Model Management, Karen Lee Grybowski (discovered Cindy Crawford, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Gisele Bundchen).
In the Closing Quartet, Penn Masala faces NCPA New England Champion and NCPA All-Americans Harvard Opportunes (competing for the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund) who held off NCPA Northeast Region and South Asian National Champion Rutgers RAAG after defeating decorated Ivy nemesis Doox of Yale and top-ranked Berklee Pitch Slapped.
Broadway On Demand is the industry-leading livestream platform housing performance and theatre education programming, & the preferred choice of top Broadway artists, producers, educators, and professionals. Broadway On Demand has streamed over 2500 events and live productions – from Broadway shows to concert series, performance venues to individual artists and original content. Broadway On Demand’s proprietary ShowShare™ licensing interface enables professional, community, college, and high school theatre productions to stream globally.
UpStaged Entertainment Group is a NYC-based diversified performing arts platform empowering the world’s student performers to compete for live/digital national championships, like student athletes, across 20+ genres (e.g. step, comedy, DJ) in premier venues and on virtual platforms (from Lincoln Center to Zoom). Operating under the NCPA™ and National High School Performing Arts (NHSPA)™ brands to bring successful sports models to performing arts, UpStaged creates the structure to bring cohesiveness to historically siloed performing arts communities.
SOUTH ASIAN A CAPPELLA TEAMS DOMINATE . . .
In addition to Penn Masala, a remarkable 4 other South Asian groups were selected, from 5,000+ nationwide, in this historic Collegiate championships: Rutgers RAAG, University of Miami’s Tufaan, University of Texas’ Hum, and Texas A&M’s Swaram.
RUTGERS RAAG – Rutgers University
RAAG was founded in 2002 as the Nation’s first all-gender South Asian fusion A Cappella group, blending classical Indian elements with Western composition techniques. RAAG has won multiple Asian Fusion national titles and recently released their first album Mosaic. The name is derived from ancient Sanskrit describing a classical music genre and emphasizing passion and beauty in composing music. NCPA Northeast Region #2 Seed RAAG became NCPA A Cappella All-Americans and Region Champions making it to the NCPA Octet Eight after defeating Northeast #1 seed University of Rochester Midnight Ramblers and #3 seed Hofstra Sigma’Cappella.
TUFAAN – University of Miami
As one of the Nation’s premiere award-winning Hindi-American fusion A Cappella groups, Tufaan is among the University of Miami’s most diverse campus organizations. On the South Asian Fusion competition circuit, the group swept up awards across the country in winning the University of Pittsburgh’s Steel City Sapna and University of Iowa’s Gathe Raho, taking second at UNC’s Sangeet Saagar before claiming a National Championship at the Awaaz. Tufaan was the NCPA Southeast Region #4 Seed, and made it to the Round of 32 Notables.
HUM – University of Texas at Austin
Hum is a South Asian fusion A Cappella group that uses their amazing voices to create a blend of South Asian and American musical culture. Hum has evolved into a group of diverse vocalists who love to share their love of music through performances, national competitions and studio album recordings. Hum blends cultures and puts a unique spin on both Hindi and English songs. They are a group of highly dynamic vocalists who arrange all of their songs by themselves. Hum was the NCPA Southwest Region #4 Seed, and made it to the Round of 32 & the All-American Encore round.
Swaram – Texas A&M University
Founded in 2007, Swaram is a South Asian fusion all-gender group fusing Indian and Western musical styles. Swaram is the two-time reigning champion of the South Asian A Cappella Championship, Awaaz All-American, and has released multiple albums and EPs on Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. In addition to competing, Swaram performs for philanthropy groups, seeking to communicate a message that their audience can relate to. Swaram qualified for the All-American finals, competing for one of the last 4 NCPA A Cappella All-American spots to be announced on Thursday at 8 pm on Broadway on Demand.