The After School Specials are off to compete at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) finals this Saturday, April 21, in New York. They are the first Claremont Colleges a cappella group to make it this far in the ICCA competition.

“It is absolutely huge for our group to be competing at finals,” says Pomona student Spencer Louie ’19, co-president of the group. “I know it sounds weird to say that this is the Superbowl of a cappella, but that’s exactly what this is.”

The After School Specials won a wild card spot and the opportunity to travel to Broadway in New York for a chance to win first place where they will be competing against 10 other college a cappella groups from across the country.

The After School Specials holding awards.

Courtesy of The After School Specials

The group consists of 17 students from the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges, three of whom are Pomona students. They started the year with seven first-years, which was a big adjustment in terms of the group dynamic, singing styles and group sound.

The group went from rehearsing three times a week to up to five times, not including individual practices and sectionals, explains Louie who adds that the hard work paid off because they placed second in quarterfinals and third in semifinals. Getting to semifinals qualified the group for entry into the video wild card round, which they won.

The group has been performing a set that includes “Greedy” by Ariana Grande, “These Walls” by Kendrick Lamar and “Jealous” by Labrinth, which they will perform again at finals. 

For Pomona first-year students Michael Andy and Julia Rogers, joining The After School Specials has been a great experience.

“My favorite part about being in my group is the fact that I have gained another family,” says Andy. “We became so close in so little time and I feel incredibly comfortable with the group and hang out with almost everyone in the group outside of practice. I think this reflects in our performing. We love to be on stage together doing what we love with people we love.”

Rogers explains that the group celebrates their differences, each of them having “distinct strengths and skills that are essential to the group’s sound and success.” She adds that The After Schools Specials are “like a patchwork quilt – each member is a critical part of the whole and there’s nothing else quite like us (regarding sound, vibe, etc) within the collegiate a cappella community.”

The After School Specials will perform their set at the ICCA finals on Saturday, April 21 at The Beacon Theatre in New York, New York. They are documenting their journey on their Instagram account.