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A Cappella Group Heading to LA for Semifinals

Central Washington University’s seven-member mixed a cappella group, Boots ‘n’ Cats, is headed to the Varsity Vocals International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella regional semifinals on April 5 in California.

Boots ‘n’ Cats finished second out of 10 groups in the February quarterfinals at Pacific Lutheran University, advancing them to the semifinals next month.

The singers are Emily Salisbury of Puyallup, Nicole Prigge of Ellensburg, Antonio Fernandez of Kent, Aryn Chatterton of Issaquah, Bo Mendez of Othello, Sarah Hemenway of Walla Walla, and Ben Lundgren of Ellensburg.

The name Boots ‘n’ Cats was suggested as a joke, but it stuck. Repeating the words boots and cats while emphasizing only the consonants is a way for beginners to grasp the concept of beat boxing, aka vocal percussion. Fernandez, the group’s resident beat boxer, took home an individual award for outstanding vocal percussion at the quarterfinals in February.

About the semifinals

Ten groups are competing at the semifinals at Pomona College in Claremont, California. The winners will advance to nationals on April 26 in New York City.

The International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella, owned and operated by Varsity Vocals, is the largest a cappella tournament in the world. Five judges critique the performances. Individual awards also may be given for outstanding soloist, outstanding arrangement, outstanding vocal percussion and outstanding choreography. Each group has 12 minutes to perform its set and those who exceed the limit are penalized.

Watch Boots 'n' Cats' PLU performance that advanced them to the semifinals on YouTube. To learn more about the group, find them on Facebook. For more information about CWU’s music department go online to

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