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Alumni a cappella group strikes a chord at regional competition

GQ (Girls Quartet), an award-winning pitch and harmony a cappella group comprising Towson University alumni, won the Sweet Adelines Regional Competition held April 24-27, in Ocean City, Md.

Katie Gillis ’11, Ali Hauger ’13, Katie Macdonald ’13 and Amanda McNutt ’13 will advance to the 68th Annual International Convention and Quartet Competition at the Baltimore Convention Center in November.


Katie Gillis, left, Ali Hauger, Katie Macdonald and Amanda McNutt, after winning the Sweet Adelines Regional Competition

“We will represent Region 19 at the International Sweet Adelines Quartet Competition in November,” explained Macdonald. “Region 19 is female barbershop singers from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”

GQ first started singing together in July of 2011, and knew right away they had something unique. The four women come from different musical backgrounds—jazz, pop, barbershop and musical theater—and each voice brings an important quality to the group’s sound. They do their own arrangements, mixing sounds that are a cross between contemporary rock and barbershop, and have stayed away from traditional a capella arrangements to explore songs and sounds that weren’t common.

“We have collaborated with musicians, we arrange our own contemporary songs, we compete in a cappella and barbershop competitions, and our album features a little bit of every genre you can think of, including folk, jazz, barbershop and even some original music,” continued Macdonald. “We are self-run as well — we handle all of the administrative and artistic work of the group ourselves.”

In three short years, GQ has won the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweepstakes, taking home first place along with Best Original Arrangement and Audience Favorite; the Singstrong’s ACA-Idol competition, taking home first prize and Audience Favorite; second place in the Harmony Sweepstakes national finals, as well as Best Original Arrangement; and first prize in the Sweet Adeline International’s “Rising Star” Competition.

The group is already hard at work preparing for November’s competition.

“We will be learning new barbershop arrangements and coaching with a barbershop coach we admire greatly,” said Macdonald. “We know that being prepared and believing in ourselves will be our ticket to success!”

Founded in 1945, Sweet Adelines International is a nonprofit musical education association for women that endows nearly 23,000 members with the mastery of singing four-part harmony music, barbershop style. The International Convention is held in the fall of each year, when barbershop harmony lovers from all over the world gather to listen to the best quartets and choruses of each region as they compete for various international championships.