Dhamakapella in 2016
|Origin||Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.|
Dhamakapella (abbreviated Dhamaka) is an award-winning coed South Asian fusion a cappella group based in Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Formed in the spring of 2005 by students Mayank Prasad, Raksha Soora, and Manoj Nair, Dhamakapella’s music has been influenced from both Eastern and Western elements, and mixes contemporary Western songs with popular Eastern music. Since Dhamaka's inception in 2005, the group has recorded and produced albums, EPs, and singles, composed entirely of original arrangements written by current members of the group or alumni. As CWRU's only competitive a cappella group, the group competes nationally, and has won ten national titles.
Dhamakapella was formed in 2005 by student Mayank Prasad at Case Western Reserve University. With help from students Raksha Soora and Manoj Nair, Mayank organized and established the first university-recognized coed a cappella group, which would feature genres from both Western and Eastern cultures. Within three years, Dhamakapella grew into a sixteen-member group, with singers of various and diverse styles. Due to the nontraditional arrangements and unique compositions, the group instantly stood out both on campus and in downtown Cleveland. In 2011, Dhamakapella released its debut album Pehli Nazar: First Look, and in 2015 released its sophomore album Naya Zamana / Welcome to the New Age, following the group's growing popularity across the city and the University. Dhamakapella began nationally competing in the fall of 2011, becoming Case Western Reserve University's sole competitive a cappella group on campus. In December 2016, Dhamakapella released a single, "Don't You Worry Child / Dastaan-E-Om Shanti Om." The group derives its influences from Indian classical, contemporary Bollywood, pop, dubstep, and electronic genres. In 2017, Dhamakapella was one of seven teams to qualify for the first-ever South Asian fusion a cappella bid-style championship, All-American Awaaz, where they placed 3rd and won "Best Arrangement" for their arrangement of "Man Mandira". On August 23rd, 2017, Dhamakapella released a brand-new EP, Riyaaz. As revealed on their Facebook page, Riyaaz consists of all three songs from their 2016-2017 award-winning competition set.
Performances and Competitions
Dhamakapella has placed at ten national a cappella competitions, winning additional accolades along the way:
- 2nd at Anahat 2011, at the University of California - Berkeley
- 2nd at Phillyfest Phillharmonic 2013 in Philadelphia,
- 1st at Gathe Raho 2013 at the University of Iowa
- Best Choreography
- Best Female Soloist (Neha Dwivedi)
- Best Beatboxer (Rahul Chander)
- 2nd at Sangeet Saagar 2015 at North Carolina State University
- 1st at Gathe Raho 2015 at the University of Iowa
- Best Female Soloist (Neha Dwivedi, Krithika Rajkumar)
- 1st at Sangeet Saagar 2016 at North Carolina State University
- 2nd at Sangeet Saagar 2017 at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
- 1st at Yaadein 2017 at Boston University
- Best Soloist (Madhav Nandan, Naveen Ram)
- Best Arrangement ("Man Mandira" arr. by Shaunak Roy)
- 2nd at Gathe Raho 2017 at the University of Iowa
- Best Male Soloist (Vasu Kuram, Naveen Ram, Shaunak Roy)
- Best Arrangement ("Writing's On The Wall / Duaa" arr. by Shaunak Roy)
- 3rd at All-American Awaaz 2017 in New York City
- "Crowd Favorite" Award
- Best Arrangement ("Man Mandira" arr. by Shaunak Roy)
All of Dhamakapella's arrangements, performed and recorded, have been written by members or alumni of the group. The arrangements aim to be cohesive and create a new story arc based upon the songs that are fused together.
- Pehli Nazar: First Look (2011)
- Naya Zamana / Welcome to the New Age (2015)
- Riyaaz (2017)
Pehli Nazar: First Look was released on April 14th, 2011 and received mixed to positive reviews from music critics. The Recorded A Cappella Review Board, which assigns a normalized rating out of 5, gave the album a 3, based on various reviews. Jonathan Minkoff quoted that “The unique vocal flips, melismas and haunting scale forms of Indian music are by far the most interesting elements of the group's debut” and “The merger of East and West is a compelling artistic concept and one that Dhamakapella is uniquely suited to present.” Writer Catherine Lewis praised the album’s arrangements and complexity, stating “When Dhamakapella is on, the group absolutely hits it out of the park.”
Naya Zamana / Welcome to the New Age was released on February 28th, 2015 and received mostly positive reviews. The Recorded A Cappella Review Board gave the album a 3.7, based on various reviews. Critic Dave Bernstein praised the album's sound and production, quoting that "Dhamakapella has taken bold steps forward in its own evolution with Naya Zamana / Welcome to the New Age". Writer Leigh Holmes Foster states that the album "Ushers in a new age for the group", and compliments the group's soloists and energy. 
- "Don't You Worry Child / Dastaan-E-Om Shanti Om - Dhamakapella". play.google.com. Retrieved 2016-12-12.
- "Dhamakapella's Facebook Page". Facebook.
- "UNC is home to the state’s only South Asian a cappella group, Samaa". www.dailytarheel.com. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- Dhamakapella (2015-05-31), Gathe Raho 2015 - Dhamakapella (1st Place), retrieved 2016-03-04
- "A cappella raises money for eyesight". Technician. Retrieved 2016-03-04.