Monthly Archives: March 2015

VoiceJam Competition at WAC

Voco Novo

Voco Novo

NOTE: There is no longer a showing of Pitch Perfect 2 as originally publicized. The studio has pulled all pre-screenings and is going straight to their opening night. 

If you’re a fan of the movie Pitch Perfect, you’re going to love Voicejam.

The Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville is producing a brand new a cappella festival VoiceJam, on Friday, April 10, and Saturday, April 11. Collegiate and community vocal groups will participate in the competition judged by some of the hottest professionals on the a cappella scene. Deke Sharon, producer of NBC’s “The Sing Off” will serve as the official host of VoiceJam.

During the festival there will be performances, workshops and guest appearances from award-winning a cappella quintets, The House Jacks and Voco Novo. The winner will have the chance to compete at the VocalAsia Festival in Shanghai, China.

Weekend festival passes range from $70 to $100 and can be purchased by clicking here: VoiceJam Weekend Pass. This pass allows access into Friday’s competition, all Saturday workshops (beginning, intermediate and advanced classes available).

Single tickets are also available for purchase. All ticket types can also be purchased in person at the Walton Arts Center Box’s Office, by phone at 479-443-5600 or by visiting

Here are additional details for the festival from a WAC press release:


Saturday, April 11

A full day of expertise, training and fun will take place at Walton Arts Center with instruction from Deke Sharon, The House Jacks and Voco Novo. Available workshops include:

  • Introduction to Contemporary A Cappella
  • Sing it Like You Mean It – Part 1
  • Sing it Like You Mean It – Part 2
  • A Cappella Arranging
  • Vocal Percussion
  • Starting a Group
  • Singing Instruments
  • Directing an A Cappella Group
  • Q&A: Meet The Pros

Ticket prices range from $70 to $100; visit VoiceJam Weekend Pass to learn more.


Friday, April 10 at 8 pm

Deke Sharon, hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “the father of contemporary a cappella” will host the competition as audiences of all ages enjoy the high-octane performances. Nine groups have been selected to compete and Walton Arts Center is excited to welcome them to the stage. The competition will be judged by a versatile and world-renowned group of vocal experts including Ariel Arbisser, Dr. Stephen Caldwell, Troy Dolendo and Jia-Ching Lai. Each group will showcase their original pieces for the audience and the judges will deliberate and decide who will be crowned the first-ever VoiceJam Champion with a chance to compete at VocalAsia in Shanghai, China.

Ticket prices range from $15 to $25; visit VoiceJam Competition to learn more.

Red Carpet Showcase

Saturday, April 11 at 7 pm

This red carpet celebration will highlight the winner from the previous night’s competition with special performances by professional ensembles The House Jacks and Voco Novo.

Ticket prices range from $30 to $50; visit Red Carpet Showcase to learn more.

The Competitors

Mellow Divas – Berkely Preparatory School, Tampa, FL

DeltaCappella – Memphis, TN

Snowday – Gaithersburg, MD

The ILL Harmonic – University of Illinois

Above the Keys – University of Miami

Beltones at Belmont – Belmont University, Nashville, TN                                                 

Seventh Street Jazz – Yorba Linda, CA

Hibernotes – Missouri State University, Springfield, MO

VirtuOSO – Baylor University, Waco, TX

The Judges

Troy Dolendo began his musical career as a DJ in junior high school. Far before beatboxing or vocal percussion became popular, Troy was imitating the sounds coming from the stereo at every chance. He began his career at Walt Disney World in 2005 and still works at Disney as well as the Universal Corporation. He was a founding member of MOSAIC as well as The Edge Effect, who were finalists on America’s Got Talent and won Boyz II Men’s vocal group challenge. Dolendo has shared the stage with a variety of stars, including PRINCE, Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Lopez.

Ariel Arbisser is a versatile performer based in Ithica, NY. In addition to The Funx, her diverse lineup of projects include soul group The Jeff Love Band, female powerhouse ensemble Lady Jaeye, and experimental funk duo Frisky Business. Arbisser got her start with the Cornell Chodials with whom she became a nationally recognized soloist, and co-produced two of their award-winning albums. Using the Meisner technique that she studied at The Actors Workshop, she has developed the teaching module, “Sing It Like You Mean It” which she teaches at festivals and schools nationwide.

Jia Ching Lai is an assistant professor of the music department at Taiwan National University of the Arts and hosts the first a cappella radio show in Taiwan. Lai is the founder of the multi-award winning O-Kai Singers who are currently the record holder for most awards won by any vocal group in Taiwan with a total of 23 domestic and international awards.

Dr. Stephen Caldwell has received critical acclaim as a singer, conductor and composer alike, and he appears regularly in concert, recital, and stage performances throughout the country and abroad. As the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Arkansas, he conducts the Schola Cantoruma, Master Chorale and Women’s Chorus. He often serves as a vocal and pedagogical consultant for choral programs at many public schools, has adjudicated choral festivals at all levels and has prepared choirs for many leading conductors including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Delaware Symphony. Caldwell’s original, award-winning compositions and arrangements have been performed throughout the world by various school and community ensembles including the Taipei Male Choir in Taiwan, and Temple University in Philadelphia.

Host & Special Guests

Deke Sharon

Deke Sharon

Deke Sharon has been heralded as “the father of contemporary a cappella” and is responsible for the current sound of modern a cappella, having created the dense vocal-instrumental sound in college, subsequently spreading it around the world. In addition to his work with The House Jacks, Deke produces NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” which had the highest ratings of any new, unscripted television show in the US in 2009, and was the third highest rated show on NBC in 2010. Deke also served as music director for Universal’s “Pitch Perfect” (2012) starring Anna Kendrick, and is contemporary cappella’s most prolific arranger, having arranged over 2,000 songs, many of which are printed worldwide with Hal Leonard/Contemporary A Cappella Publishing. He has produced dozens of award winning a cappella albums and created a cappella groups for Disneyland and Disney World, and frequently tours the world teaching a variety of topics to students and professional singers.

The House Jacks includes members Deke Sharon, Austin Willacy, Elliott Robinson, John Pointer and Nick Girard. They have inspired live audiences across North America, South America, Europe and Asia with over 3,000 performances. They feature amazing instrument imitations (drums, flute, guitar, bass, trumpet, muted trumpet, synthesizers) that are woven into their songs to create a full and varied experience for audiences of all ages.

Voco Novo hails from Taiwan and includes five singers who came together and started Voco Novo A Cappella Group with goals to create a new sound and collaborate with different art forms. Voco Novo not only tours around Taiwan, but also has performed abroad, including Korea, Hong Kong, China, Austria, Germany, and Sweden. With only a few years of experience, Voco Novo has already won many awards including “Best Solo” award at the 2010 Seoul International A Cappella Competition, “Gold Diploma” and “Han-Guang Best Performance” and “Han-Guang Best Arrangement” at the 2011 Taiwan International A Cappella Festival, “Gold Diploma” in Pop and Jazz categories and the “Best Arrangement” award at the International A Cappella Competition in Graz, Austria.

VoiceJam is supported by NBCUniversal, Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission, Cheyenne Products, Vocal Asia and CJCHT art & culture. VoiceJam registration, submission and festival components can be found at

Walton Arts Center is Arkansas’s premier center for the performing arts and entertainment. Each year more than 190,000 people from Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma and beyond attend over 275 public events at Walton Arts Center, including performances, rehearsals, community gatherings, receptions, graduations and more.  Approximately 42,000 students and teachers from 30 school districts participate annually in arts learning programs at Walton Arts Center, and almost 300 volunteers donate more than 22,000 hours of time each year to its operations. Walton Arts Center presents entertainers and artists from around the world including Broadway musicals, renowned dance companies, international artists, up-and-coming jazz musicians and more. As a non-profit organization, Walton Arts Center enjoys the generous support of public sector funding, corporate sponsorship and private donors, allowing audience members to pay on average only 50% of the cost of programs offered. To learn more about Walton Arts Center, visit


Kirk Demarais To Paint Mural in Downtown Siloam Springs

Kirk Demarias at the future mural site.

Local artist and designer Kirk Demarais has been selected by Main Street Siloam Springs to complete a mural on the south-facing outdoor wall of 204 S. Broadway St. in historic downtown Siloam Springs.

The mural selection committee unanimously chose Demarais’ proposal because his concept is reflective of the theme “Celebration of Siloam Springs.” He describes the mural concept as his “love letter to his hometown” and the style as “contemporary and optimistic, while at the same time rich with historic ambience.” The committee also said his proposed budget, timeline, and implementation strategy were thorough and realistic.

The mural will be revealed on May 9 at the first downtown public art event Beyond the Frame: Experiencing Art in Downtown Siloam Springs. This series of summer events will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the second Saturday of each summer month (immediately preceding Second Saturday Music in Twin Springs Park). Each Beyond the Frame will feature a reveal of a new piece of public art, an outdoor art market in Twin Springs Park and surrounding areas, and an art walk starting on South Broadway Street. The dates for these events are: May 9, June 13, July 11, and Aug. 8.

Museum of Native American History Receives Donation of Jim Blair’s Meso-American Art Collection

Crystal Bridges isn’t the only state-of-the-art museum in Bentonville highlighting American art. The Museum of Native American History (MONAH) presents the earliest of masterpieces from the original, tribal inhabitants of the Americas.

The extensive artifacts and art on display at the museum are the private collection of David Bogle of Bentonville. His mission is to give visitors a deeper sense of how Native Americans lived. His museum is more than a Bentonville treasure. It is a national repository that honors the lives and cultures of the first Americans.

Teotihuacan Mask from Mexico

Teotihuacan Mask from Mexico

A substantial addition to the collection debuted March 20 with the donation from Jim and Nancy Blair of their Meso-American art collection.

The Blair collection opens a window to the lives and history of those who lived in Southern Mexico, Central America and South America. Some of the more well-known cultures include the Maya, Aztec and Inca. These Native Americans are noted for constructing platform mounds, paved roads, stone sculptures and crafting elaborate artifacts from gold, jade, and ceramics.

“Some of the pieces are over 1,500 to 2,000 years old and the level of artistry, the richness of the glaze is truly amazing, such as the pre-Columbian parrot piece,Jim Blair said in a museum press release. The piece is a dual zoomorphic effigy vessel from Colima in Mexico. Charlotte Buchanan-Yale, a director with the museum, described it as a special piece that represents a fish on one side and on the opposing side a parrot. When the two forms blend, what is a fin on one side becomes a beak on the other.

Blair’s collection started in the 1960s when he was handling a piece of litigation for a client and instead of money for services rendered, he was paid with Meso-American artifacts. “He fell in love with the artifacts and started collecting avidly,” Buchanan-Yale said. “He’s very proud of his collection, but after its value exceeded a million dollars he felt an obligation to find a place that could display the collection where the general public could learn from it and enjoy it.”

The Blairs heard about the MONAH from Missy Kincaid, Jim’s daughter-in-law. “Everything is well displayed. I was totally blown away by it. I thought…this is a place that can absorb my collection and deal with it,” he said. Nancy Blair added, “We heard that the museum had significant pieces of pre-Columbian art arranged with such quality. When David Bogle gave us a tour, we saw everything in the museum was extremely well displayed…from the gorgeous war bonnets I fell in love with to the medicine trunk with the contents owned by Moses Decorah, a Winnebago medicine man who traveled with the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show in the late 1800s. I thought, ‘What a jewel this museum is. More people should know about it.’”

Colima Dog

Colima Dog

The Colima dogs are some of Jim Blair’s favorite pieces in the collection, Buchanan-Yale stated. The dogs are thought to be ancestors of the modern Chihuahua and Mexican Hairless breeds. Colima dogs had many uses as guardians of the dead, watchdogs, healers of the sick, and a food source, she explained.

“There seems to be a voice through time trying to tell a story of some kind when you look at the Captive Mound Slave and the Hunchback vessels. One is from Peru and one is from Mexico,” Blair explained. “Both have their hands and legs bound in a submissive position. There seems to be a voice through time telling a story of some kind.

“I have been to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, the Diego Rivera Museum, and was inspired by his personal collection of artifacts. I’ve visited the Denver Museum’s great collection and I always thought, ‘They are trying to tell us something…something spiritual and calming…and in a way…laughing at themselves.”


Hunchback effigy

The Blair collection adds to the 14,000 year story of Native American history already displayed at the museum. Exhibits range from arrowheads to an Indian Scout Uniform and Paiute Wedding Dress to a one ton wooly mammoth skeleton standing 12 feet tall and stretching 17 feet in length. It is believed to be between 12,000 and 20,000 years old.

The museum contains the most examples of authentic Mississippian head pots ever displayed to the public. It has an extraordinary range of significant effigy & utilitarian pottery.

The museum provides a portable handheld audio wand at no charge that each visitor can use for a self-guided tour. Visitors can pick and choose what they want to learn about walking through the period of the Paleo-Indians over 10,000 years ago and on through the Reservation Period of the early 1900s.

The museum is located three minutes from the downtown square and just 10 minutes from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the full-sized Native American tepee on the grounds. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call 479-273-2456, email, or visit