The Virginia Belles

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Virginia Belles
Belles at Virginia Gentlemen concert.jpg
The Belles performing at The Virginia Gentlemen's Family Weekend Concert
Background information
Origin University of Virginia
Genres A Cappella
Years active 1977–present
Labels A Cappella Records
Website vabelles.com
Members Class of 2016
Emily Avery
Jasleen Bawa
Alison Lenert
Callie Wright

Class of 2017
Christine Alexander
Kristen Folkerts
Mary Moore

Class of 2018
Doris Farje
Arden Johnson
Cat Wyatt
Rose Zilla-Ba

Class of 2019
Beth Cashin
Maddie Conroy
Monica Gonzalez
Nikki Pope
Jeanette Yan

The Virginia Belles is the University of Virginia's oldest all-female a cappella group based in Charlottesville, Virginia.[1] The group was established in 1977 by Katherine Mitchell as the female counterpart to the Virginia Gentlemen, the university's oldest a cappella group.[2] Completely student-run, the Belles continue to perform an eclectic range of vocal music from oldies and classic rock to indie and R&B.[3] They sing in and around Charlottesville, and up and down the East Coast and all across the U.S.[4] (often wearing little black dresses), and have received awards and honors from internationally acclaimed organizations such as the Contemporary A Cappella Society, Varsity Vocals, and the Recorded A Cappella Review Board.[5]

History[edit]

The Belles were founded in the fall of 1977 by Katherine Mitchell, a student at the University of Virginia.[1] A woman who continues to love music, Katherine noticed then that there was no outlet for female a cappella at the university.[1] The Virginia Gentlemen, the university's oldest all-male a cappella group had been established since 1953, so Katherine formed The Virginia Belles as the female counterpart to the Virginia Gentlemen.[1] Initially the Belles were a select part of the Virginia Women's Chorus. The most talented members of the Women's Chorus were asked to audition for the Belles, singing both madrigal and popular music.[2] Today, the Belles hold auditions every semester for every female student at the university to attend.[6]

The Belles Today[edit]

The Belles today are a Contracted Independent Organization run through UVA's student council and are no longer a part of the Women's Chorus.[7] The group is entirely student-run and affiliated with the UVA McIntire Department of Music.[8] The Belles sing for almost every type of occasion, be it fundraising events on Grounds, private parties, weddings, sports events, concerts, or business meetings. The Belles are known for wearing their signature "little black dresses" to perform around the country.

The Belles are currently signed with A Cappella Records, an all-digital record label for a cappella music. Their music can be purchased on iTunes and Amazon.com.

Current Members[edit]

The members with their expected graduation years are:[9]

  • Emily Avery ('16)
  • Jasleen Bawa ('16)
  • Alison Lenert ('16)
  • Callie Wright ('16)
  • Christine Alexander ('17)
  • Kristen Folkerts ('17)
  • Mary Moore ('17)
  • Arden Johnson ('18)
  • Cat Wyatt ('18)
  • Doris Farje ('18)
  • Rose Zilla-Ba ('18)
  • Beth Cashin ('19)
  • Maddie Conroy ('19)
  • Monica Gonzalez ('19)
  • Nikki Pope ('19)
  • Jeanette Yan ('19)

Fall Roll[edit]

The Belles tour the East Coast every year on a trip they call Fall Roll, visiting numerous other schools, colleges, and universities.[2] Past trips have included visits with the Princeton Footnotes, Harvard Din & Tonics, The Yale Alley Cats, University of Pennsylvania Penchants, Vanderbilt Dodecaphonics, Davidson Generals, Clemson Tigeroar, University of Georgia Accidentals, and The Hill School in Pennsylvania, Darlington School in Georgia, etc.). The University of Virginia's Fall Break is always reserved for this excursion.

CD Production[edit]

The Belles record and release a new CD biyearly.[6] They have released numerous CDs throughout the years, garnering praise and national acclaim from fans and the a cappella community. Their repertoire today continues to be an eclectic mix of all different genres of music.

Up until 2007, the group spent their recording career with accomplished sound engineers Paul Brier and Chris Doermann, formerly of Virginia Arts Recording in Charlottesville, VA. However, with the release of Taking Every Detour, the group switched the production studios of both Brier and UVA alum James Gammon with James Gammon Productions. With their album acaBELLEa, James Gammon Productions took over the entire recording, editing, production, and mastering processes. James Gammon is an alumnus of The Academical Village People, an all-male a cappella group at the University of Virginia. His clients have won many national and international a cappella awards thanks to his success in the studio. The Belles' most recent album, "Right Hook,"[10] was released in August 2015 and, within a month of its release, has already been featured on Voices Only.[11]

Awards[edit]

Virginia Belles awards and nominations
Awards and nominations
Award Wins Nominations
CARAs
3 11
RARB
1 -
BOCA
1 -
Voices Only
4 -
ICCAs
4 1
Totals
Awards won 13
Nominations 12

Musical Awards[edit]

Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs)

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
2016 Right Hook Best Female Collegiate Album Nominated
Jasleen Bawa for "Team" (Right Hook) Best Female Collegiate Soloist Nominated
Brianna Meese, Michelle Gahagan for "Don't Wake Me Up" (Right Hook) Best Female Collegiate Arrangement Nominated
2014 Tintinnabulation Best Female Collegiate Album Nominated
"Fire" (Tintinnabulation) Best Female Collegiate Song Nominated
Jasleen Bawa for "Winter Trees" (Tintinnabulation) Best Female Collegiate Soloist Nominated
Michelle Gahagan for "Winter Trees" (Tintinnabulation) Best Female Collegiate Arrangement Nominated
2012 "Love, Save the Empty" (Good Morning, Mr. Jefferson) Best Female Collegiate Song Nominated
2010 acaBELLEa Best Female Collegiate Album Nominated
2002 Aurora Best Female Collegiate Album (Runner Up) Won
2000 Bellissima Best Female Collegiate Album (Runner Up) Won
"Fast Car" (Bellissima) Best Female Collegiate Song Nominated
Heather Bates for (Bellissima) Best Female Collegiate Soloist Nominated
Joelle Heise for (Bellissima) Best Female Collegiate Arrangement Won

Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB)

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
2009 "Big Girls Don’t Cry" (acaBELLEa) 2009 Song of the Year Won

Selection for "Best Of" Compilation Albums[edit]

Best of College A Cappella (BOCA)

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
2014 "Fire" (Tintinnabulation) BOCA 2014: Best of College A Cappella Won

Voices Only A Cappella Compilation

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
2015 "Goodness Gracious" (Right Hook) Voices Only 2015, Vol. 2 Won
2014 "Do My Thing" (Tintinnabulation) Voices Only 2014, Vol. 1 Won
2013 "Rumour Has It" (Tintinnabulation) Voices Only 2013, Vol. 1 Won
2011 "Love, Save the Empty" (Good Morning, Mr. Jefferson) Voices Only 2011, Vol. 2 Won

A Cappella Competitions[edit]

International Competitive Collegiate A Cappella (ICCAs)

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
2003 Virginia Belles ICCA Quarter-Finals—3rd Place Won
2001 Virginia Belles ICCA Semi-Finals—2nd Place Won
My-Van Nguyen Outstanding Vocal Percussion Won
Lindsay Wilkonson Outstanding Soloist Nominated
2000 Virginia Belles ICCA Quarter-Finals—3rd Place Won

Discography[edit]

  • Right Hook (2015)
  • Five - EP (2015)
  • Tintinnabulation (2013)
  • Good Morning Mr. Jefferson (2011)
  • acaBELLEa (2009)
  • Taking Every Detour (2007)
  • Essentially Covered (2005)
  • Sterling (2003)
  • Aurora (2001)
  • Bellissima (1999)

Notable Alumni[edit]

More A Cappella at UVA[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Virginia Women's Chorus comes back". The Cavalier Daily. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "CIO Spotlight: The Virginia Belles". The Cavalier Daily. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "Current Repertoire". The Virginia Belles. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "Upcoming Events". The Virginia Belles. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Aca-awesome Wahoos". The Cavalier Daily. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Virginia Belles Constitution". "@UVA". Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Virginia Belles". "@UVA". Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "Affiliated Ensembles and Organizations". UVA McIntire Department of Music. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "The Belles". The Virginia Belles' own web site. 
  10. ^ "Virginia Belles will sing works from new album during 'Off to the Races' a cappella concert". C'ville Pulse. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  11. ^ "Voices Only 2015". Voices Only. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 

External links[edit]