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DeKalb a cappella group in New York state of mind

Enharmonic Fusion members Shelby Small (center left), Sarah Jesmer (center) and Carlie Hayes (right) discuss their music Tuesday while rehearsing One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” at DeKalb High School.
Enharmonic Fusion members Shelby Small (center left), Sarah Jesmer (center) and Carlie Hayes (right) discuss their music Tuesday while rehearsing One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” at DeKalb High School.

DeKALB – Carlie Hayes tasted the Big Apple once and now she wants more.

Hayes, a member of the 2012 DeKalb High School a cappella group that went to the national championship in New York City, is hoping to lead Enharmonic Fusion to the big stage once more as a senior leader.

Hayes and the 21 other members of Enharmonic Fusion hope to defeat five other high school a cappella groups at 7 p.m. Saturday in the DeKalb High School Auditorium in a regional competition for one of 10 spots in the national competition in New York.

“We work the whole year for this one competition,” Hayes said. “It’s our make-or-break moment.”

The vocalists will have 12 minutes to impress the judges with their singing, choreography and overall presentation. Additional awards are given for categories such as best arrangement, soloist and vocal percussion.

This year the group prepared three songs for the 12-minute performance, and although the group would not divulge the names of the tunes, Hayes said they are modern, high-energy songs.

After a string of success that included trips to New York in 2012 and ’10 as well as appearances from the all-boys group, Fly Check, in ’07 and ’08, Enharmonic Fusion enters this competition with a lot of new faces.

One first-time member, sophomore Matt Petersen, said he was honored to make the cut for the group and believes the chemistry it has developed in the past month of focused and frequent practices could lead to a victory Saturday.

“It’s very satisfying to know I’m able to compete with a group of people that sound as good as they do,” Petersen said of Enharmonic Fusion. “I’m glad to be part of this family.”

Travis Erikson, director of the group, said the DeKalb competition is always tough. He said it is difficult to know what judges will look for in performances and the groups that come are always talented.

This year’s competition features two groups from Niles West High School in Niles; Reign from West Des Moines, Iowa; Midnight Voices from Madison, Wis.; and the 2010 national champions, Limited Edition from Port Washington, Wis.

“You never know what’s going to resonate with the judges ... it’s always a bit of a gamble,” Erikson said. “But I am very fortunate to work with a group that is very passionate and hard working.”

For those who have never seen an a cappella show live, members said the experience is well worth the $10 admission price. TV and movie productions such as “Glee” and “Pitch Perfect” cannot replicate the energy and magic of musical performances produced with nothing but vocals, said senior Shelby Small.

“There are a lot of awe-inspiring moments when you watch the passion people bring to the stage for that 12 minutes,” Shelby said.

Win or lose, Hayes said she is proud of the strides the young Enharmonic Fusion group has made in her senior year. As she prepares to graduate, she said she already has plans to start an a cappella group when she goes to college at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla., where no such group exists.

But first she would like one more opportunity to entertain strangers on subways and at parks in New York with her friends who are never afraid to break into an a cappella rendition of their favorite songs.

“There are no words to explain how awesome it was,” Hayes said of the 2012 trip. “Getting to go with all my best friends and sing and be with people who are so into music was a really great opportunity.”

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