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Staff Says: Show Choir's Rising Stars

Lawrence North Bella Bravada has become a serious finals contender week in and week out around Indianapolis. Photo: Nathan Ensley /

What's better than showing some love to the best up-and-coming groups from around the country? Several HomeRoom staffers give their takes on groups to watch heading into 2025.

William Soquet: While a four-win season for Tomah would make them the slam-dunk Wisconsin pick, I’ll dig a little deeper here and go with the DeForest DeFortes. This program was basically on life support as of 2022 and went backwards from where they were in 2020. The progress they’ve made in three years in membership - going from numbers in the high teens/low 20s to filling the stage pretty well - has paired well with a tangible growth in both vocals and visuals. The group sported a novelty ‘Touchdown DeFortes’ set in 2024 and won the prep division at its first two competitions before making a midseason jump to varsity. DeForest is now primed for a full varsity season in 2025 and may challenge for finals at a couple places.

Chris Mendoza: Keep an eye out on the West for tons of groups to pop out. Glendora Royal Stewarts' dominant 2024 season bodes well for a successful 2025. Valley Vista Vocal Thunder will look to collect their first competition win in California's Advanced Mixed Tier 2, and their chances are good. Long time Intermediate contenders Oceanside Sound Waves and Pacifica Encore are now good enough to consider the move up to Advanced and would likely perform well. Multiple non-Big Three groups are sizing up chances to take on some tough competitors in the Midwest, and it would be a fine post-pandemic showing. All of this combines for a perfect storm of spotlights beyond the western Big Three in 2025.

Nathan: In the hotly contested Indianapolis circuit, it can be challenging to shake things up. At many competitions, there is an intense fight just to make finals, with small margins separating groups from making or missing it. After missing finals at two competitions each of the past two years, Bella Bravada, Lawrence North’s womens group, made finals in all five of their competitions that featured a dedicated womens finals. With growing membership the past few years and second year director Emily Keith delivering a creative and well executed 'Seven Deadly Sins' theme, this group was making history. Bellas scored their best ever placement, with a second at Huntington North, and qualified for state for the first time. With another talented cast set to take over, this group looks poised to continue making noise and grab their first grand championship in the coming years.

Ava Sammons: Iowa show choir fans should keep an eye out for North Polk Nexus next season. Nexus is one of the newest groups to join the Des Moines circuit, but have held their own against other 3A schools. Although their group is somewhat small, their 2024 set was highly entertaining and held true to traditional show choir. Nexus consistently places well among their 3A counterparts, including a division win at Indianola in 2023. They’ve even made a couple appearances in finals over the past two seasons, where they have the opportunity to compete against prestigious programs throughout the state. I look forward to seeing where North Polk Nexus goes in the 2025 season and predict that they will become a group to seriously look out for in the next couple years. 

Michael James Breen: In New England, one of the names that come to mind is South Windsor Choral Spectrum, a group that in these more recent years has found its formula. Their shows have been consistent, fun to watch and are a testament to hard work to the craft! Their creative team is full of passionate folks who put their kids and community first. Also, Lowell Sound Impressions is another that I am excited to see make a comeback. A long time show choir friend and Lowell alum, Evan Caverly, will be taking over as head director and I cannot wait to see their show already! 2025 cannot come any sooner! 

Ethan Parker: In the state of Illinois, the show choir scene in 2024 saw significant progress among many choirs. Small mixed witnessed the resurgence of Sullivan Singers and Danville Delegation, who had recently reclassified and found their competitive edge once again in the region. Mt. Zion’s Les Femmes had a standout season in single-gender, reaching three large mixed finals for the first time since 2005. In large mixed, the El Paso-Gridley Modulations made waves nationally with three wins and a very memorable performance at this year's prestigious Choral Classic. However, the true standout of the season for me was Manteno Magic, who, despite modest placements, was able to secure their first grand championship in six years. Director Sean Hoffman, who was honored as our 2024 Director of the Year, has run the gauntlet with Magic since he started the role in 2012. He, along with their amazing creative team and students, played a pivotal role in ending this lengthy dry spell. Now with this new found momentum, it will be exciting to see how this choir takes its next steps.

Michael McHargh: As for the state of Ohio, the majority of the groups in the state continued their growth and recovery from the pandemic, but Mayfield Limited Edition impressed judges and earned three finals appearances. It was their most in one season and their first in 12 years that even one finals appearance was earned. Mayfield’s vocal music department as a whole saw a large surge in interest in the 2022 school year, which in turn helped boost the show choir. This helped the group grow from averaging 30 singer-dancers a few years ago, to 52 singer-dancers in the 2024 season. LTD hopes to continue their success and growth this season and beyond. 

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