Gospel Soundcheck

One of my favorite groups from the first night of season 3 of "The Sing-Off", Delilah.

I wish I could remember which of my friends told me that I had to watch “The Sing Off” because I would love it. Because I’d like to track them down and thank them for the suggestion. (It was, in fact, my editor. Thanks, Stephen!)

Honestly, I had become overloaded with singing shows; I even skipped the last season of “American Idol” and didn’t regret it at all. But clearly I’ve been missing something with “The Sing Off”, so … yay for season 3!

I admit that I didn’t understand the concept of this show. I’d read that some of the groups were made up of former contestants or professional groups, and that even Rachel Lampa was performing. I didn’t understand how an established muscian could compete. Now that I’ve seen the show … I totally get it!

First, the judges, three people I’m only vaguely acquainted with: Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles

The first group to compete was the Yellowjackets, from the University of Rochester, is our local hometown favorite here in Rochester, NY. And while I loved the emotional story of their trip to Kenya and their obvious talent, I think they were overshadowed by some of the other groups, especially Delilah and Afro Blue.

The Fannin Family consists of 11 siblings from Wisconsin, and the 14 year old vocalist Katy was amazing. Judge Sara Barreilles pointed out their wholesome, innocent sound. They were really good.

Afro Blue is from Howard University, and they brought some funky jazz sounds. Judge Shawn Stockman wrote the words “class, style, slick, smooth, effortless, fun” to describe their performance, and I’d agree with all of that.

But of the first four groups, it was Delilah that really blew me away. Holy smokes, are those girls great. The group is made up of female vocalists from groups who competed the first two seasons of the show. Shawn Stockman said lead vocalist Amy “cut through my darn heart.” Sara Bareilles said they were “kick ass”, and noted that in addition to girl power they had versatility, emotion, sex appeal and crazy chords. It was a hot performance.

I can’t believe the vocal talents and the way that the singers use their voices to recreate the bass and instrument sounds. I’m always blown away by a capella groups, and this is just so entertaining, so much more so than “American Idol” has become. Of the first four groups to perform, Delilah was my favorite.

Of the second group of performers, it was interesting to see the different style in Urban Method; it’s easy to forget that the backing track is actually people and not an instrumental track. Shawn Stockman, from Boys II Men, said he cut his teeth on that kind of rap-papella music and was “glad someone was smart enough to do it on The Sing Off.” Ben Fold said the “bass was actually shaking my ass.”

The Cat’s Pajamas is a group from Branson, MO, one of the established, professional groups in the competition. They perform 200+ shows a year at The Dutton theater in Branson. They’re smooth and slick … and I’m sure all of the senior citizens in Branson think they’re, well, the cat’s pajamas. They are talented technically, as Ben Folds said, but need to take some risks with their artistry.

Kinfolk 9 is a group of singers from Los Angeles who are new to acappella. The judges agreed that they were all very talented, frontman Moi was great, and that with a little more time together the group will be able to blend their sound much better.

The last group to perform was Vocal Point, the acappella group from  Brigham Young University. They took the collegiate do-wop to new heights. Baritone Ben had to leave three days before the show to return to Australia to be with his father, who is battling leukemia. While the sound might have been filled out a bit with Ben there, the group was fun, choreographed, and super talented.

At the end of the night, it was The Fannin Family and Cat’s Pajamas who were sent home. I completely agree with that – and I can’t wait until next week to see the next eight groups!

If you missed the show, you can catch recaps on The Sing Off website or download the songs from


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