The Wells High School Select A Cappella Choir sings at a recent rehearsal. The group of 14 girls has earned a chance to sing at Total Vocal, a contemporary a cappella music concert in New York City hosted by "Pitch Perfect" music director Deke Sharon. Credit: Bridget M. Burns | York County Coast Star

This March, the Wells High School Select A Cappella Choir will travel to New York City to participate in Total Vocal, a contemporary a cappella music concert. Under the direction of Bailey Smith, the group of 14 girls will join groups from all around the world to perform seven numbers live at Lincoln Center.

Smith was inspired to apply for the opportunity after the choir traveled to Pennsylvania last year to compete in the Music in the Parks competition, along with other members of the Wells Music Department.

“They did great. They brought home first place and they kind of got the bug,” Smith said. “So over the summer I started researching what else is out there that we could do this year.”

Total Vocal caught her eye because it is hosted and directed by Deke Sharon, often referred to as the father of contemporary a cappella. Sharon is known for producing “The Sing-Off,” and serving as music director and vocal producer for “Pitch Perfect,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” and “Pitch Perfect 3.” Past Total Vocal events have even included surprise performances by movie cast members.

“He’s big in our world of a cappella,” said Smith.

She handled the entire application process in secret, only telling the girls once they had officially been accepted. This involved submitting two performance videos to get through the first round, and a third video for the final round. Smith also had to do a phone interview.

“They want to make sure I am equipped to teach them this music so that when we go, they know they’re getting 14 kids that are very well prepared,” she said.

In late September, Smith received word that the group had officially been accepted. Unfortunately she quickly realized a district calendar conflict with the weekend already reserved for the Wells High School musical.

“Almost all of them are Pink Ladies,” she said, referring to this year’s performance of Grease.

Luckily the calendar was able to be adjusted, and Smith was able to share the exciting news with the Select A Cappella Choir.

“Our administration was so supportive,” Smith said.

With the Select A Cappella Choir in only its second year, performing in Total Vocal means an opportunity for outside feedback.

Senior Kiley Belanger said, “I am most looking forward to being able to work with the experts in a cappella. It’s going to be really cool to get criticism and advice from them.”

The trip also allows for two half days of sightseeing, which will include seeing a Broadway musical, and touring Rockefeller Center. Many of the girls’ families have opted into the trip, for a total group of 32.

“It’s going to be amazing to get this experience but I also think that going to New York together will make us closer as a group,” said junior Delaney Bailey.

For now, the choir is focused on learning their seven pieces of music, and finalizing fundraising. Upcoming efforts include their annual textile drive for the Epilepsy Foundation, as well as a “Dining to Donate” event at York Harbor Inn on Feb. 18. They will also be selling concessions at the school musical, now scheduled for just before their trip. Then, it’s off to New York.

Said freshman group member Negel Martel, “I’m looking forward to being able to sing with so many people and develop all those beautiful harmonies.”

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