Stockton a cappella group makes music, wins awards

Stockapella, a student a cappella group at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Galloway Township, won several awards in the International Competition of Collegiate a Cappella held last month at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Lauren Odlen played drums as a child, but now she doesn't need instruments to make music.

Olden, of the Smithville section of Galloway Township, is so good at performing as a human beat box, she received the best vocal percussion award last month at the International Competition of Collegiate a Cappella, held at Rutgers University.

Olden is one of 13 members of Stockapella, the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey's a cappella competition ensemble. The 6-year-old group won their first awards ever at the contest, including one for best choreography.

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"When they called our names, it was kind of heart-stopping because I finally felt like we received the recognition that we deserved, that we didn't receive the year before," said senior Christina Cibotti, of Northfield, who came up with most of the group's moves.

"It was amazing. We were screaming. We were screaming in other people's ears. I felt really bad, jumping up and down and screaming," Cibotti said.

This is the third consecutive year Stockapella competed. The group made the quarter final round with this year's competition being the largest ever. Stockapella faced nine other groups in competition.

Cibotti, 22, said fellow group members - Gabriella Marrone of Sewell, Gloucester County, Kenneth Hellings of Brooklawn, Camden County and John Wisienski of Lakewood, Ocean County - helped with the choreography. Cibotti designed the choreography for all three songs of Stockapella's set. Cibotti believes the choreography really came together for the song "In Love with a Girl" by Gavin DeGraw.

"It was really rock out, like a rock concert, crazy, all over the stage, really fun," Cibotti said.

Odlen, 24, joined the group in the spring of 2010. She spent that summer learning how to beatbox and started providing the percussion sounds to the group that fall.

Odlen received the best vocal percussion award for the quality of rhythm, time and variety she demonstrated with her voice for all three songs of Stockapella's set.

"After coming off the stage with how I thought our performance went, I didn't think I would be winning anything, so I was completely shocked when they announced me for winning it," said Odlen.

Neil Aaronson is the faculty adviser and coach of Stockapella and the other two Stockton student a cappella groups, the Stocktones and Stockata.

It is not unusual to have more than one a cappella group at a college, Aaronson said. A cappella is very popular now, and last year's movie "Pitch Perfect" is a sign of that, Aaronson said.

Aaronson said he thought the winning choreography the group came up with for "In Love with a Girl" was hot and steamy.

"I wouldn't call it risque, but it is mildly suggestive, and the audience and the judges really ate it up at competition. They made a really good choice with their choreography," said Aaronson, who added he was sitting in the audience when it was announced that Stockapella won awards. "I jumped out of my chair like an idiot and screamed my head off."

Stockapella will sing 8 p.m. April 15 in the Campus Center Theater on the Stockton campus in Pomona.

Their five-song set, which they are currently rehearsing, features the songs "Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse, "Just a Kiss" by Lady Antebellum, "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons, "You'll Be In My Heart" by Phil Collins, and either "In Love with a Girl" or "I Try" by Macy Gray.

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A cappella performance

Stockapella performs 8 p.m. April 15 at the Campus Center Theater at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, 101 Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway Township. Tickets are $6 in advance, $9 at the door. Tickets available on week before the show at the Information Booth in the Campus Center. Call 609-626-6019.

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