4 questions with Kettering A Cappella Fest headliners The Exchange

Although The Exchange has never won on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” the a cappella group owes much of its success to the television competition.

Singers Richard Steighner, Alfredo Austin, Christopher Diaz, Jamal Moore and Aaron Sperber — performing at the Kettering National A Cappella Festival at Fairmont High School on Saturday, Nov. 14 — first met on “The Sing-Off” set in 2012. Since then the group has performed on season five of the program, appeared on “The Sing-Off Tour,” opened for the Backstreet Boys and released three well-received albums.

The national fest runs Friday and Saturday, Nov. 13-14, featuring performances and workshops. The all-female group Musae will perform Friday.

The Exchange’s beatboxer Steighner recently answered some questions about The Exchange.

Q: How has 2015 been for the group?

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A: “We’ve been traveling quite a bit. We did the ‘The Sing Off Tour,’ which was basically a tour around the States, so we started off the year running. We did 56 cities in 62 days, including a show at Hobart Arena in March. After that we went to Australia and Germany and then back to the States for a bit. At this point, we’re looking to stop touring for a just a little bit so we can actually record some more music and do some video work.”

Q: You’ve released three CDs in as many years. Why so eager to jump back into working on new material?

A: “You have to nowadays because everything is faster than ever. If you’re not putting it out, you’re fading away.”

Q: You’ll be working with the students in Kettering. Why is it important for you guys to work with the youngsters?

A: “Even though we do these reality shows and those are a competitive environment, we look at music as a very communal thing. The five people in this group really respect the process of what music really is, and we like to be able to offer whatever we can to people. Wherever the group is traveling, even if we don’t speak the language, we’re doing workshops or sessions. Our whole message is if you can really tap into what you’re feeling while you sing, whatever you’re singing about, you’re going to sing better. Maybe it’s cheesy but we think that makes the world a better place.”

Q: What does 2016 hold for The Exchange?

A: “We’ve done everything we can as an independent group and reached terminal velocity. Our next step is to actually get signed by a label and get some real help so we can really start putting out some music that is distributed. It’s exciting a cappella can give you that opportunity.”

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