Start your weekend on a high note at the Kettering National A Cappella Fest

Though a capella music has been around for centuries, the modern form was just beginning to gain mainstream attention (hello, “Pitch Perfect”) 12 years ago when Fairmont High School in Kettering began hosting the Kettering National A Cappella Festival. This year, the event will take place on Nov. 8-9.

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“We got lucky because we hit right in the sweet spot, being on the front edge of it with ‘The Sing Off’ and all that kind of stuff,” Brody McDonald, Fairmont’s director of choirs, told us in a previous interview. “It’s been good because we had a chance to play Johnny Appleseed. We did our first presentation about a cappella to the state teacher’s conference all the way back in 2007.”

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“We did it again in ’08 and then ’10,” McDonald continued. “Then as we started this festival, we saw schools were forming groups all over the place. Some of them were even forming just to come to the festival. We like to think we have a little hand in the growth of it all, although I’m sure it would’ve happened inevitably.”

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The annual festival will feature more than 60 high school and college a cappella groups participating in workshops and performances. On Friday night, one of the headlining groups, Stiletta, will be joined at the Trent Arena in Kettering by the eight groups selected by video submission. Then, on Saturday night, the weekend of a capella ends with a performance by the festival’s other headliner, Rockapella.

Apart from the Main Stage events, guests and performers alike have the opportunity to experience an Aca-Bomb performance. These performances will take place in a more intimate setting without the use of microphones, allowing the performer to form a closer connection to the audience.

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“It has just gotten huge,” said McDonald, author of “A Cappella Pop: A Complete Guide to Contemporary A Cappella Singing.” “For a lot of the early years, we were running 13 to 20 groups. Then, once we got into 30 we were like, ‘Oh, this is so big.’ Then after Pentatonix showed up in 2013 we hit the 50s and after that the number of groups just kept going up.”

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Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 

Academic Showcase: Featuring 8 groups selected by video submission and a performance by Stiletta

Soundchecks throughout the afternoon from 3-6:30 for guest groups 

7:00 p.m. — Doors open

7:30 p.m. — Concert begins

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Daytime Festival

8:00 a.m. — Check-in opens

9:00 a.m. — Festival begins

Group clinics, masterclasses and performances throughout the day 

Breakfast and Lunch available through the concessions stand 

5:30 p.m. — Festival ends

Catered dinner available (through REGISTRATION form)

Evening Concert

featuring local groups Fusion and Eleventh Hour and national act Rockapella

6:15 — doors open

7:00 p.m. — Concert begins


What: Kettering National A Cappella Festival with student groups and headliners Stiletta and Rockapella

Where: Trent Arena, 3301 Shroyer Road, Kettering

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8 and 9

Cost: $15 Friday, $20 Saturday

More info: Website

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