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Rutgers a capella group wins 1st place at national competition

<p>December 2015 |&nbsp;Nuttin’ But V.O.C.A.L.S. won first place at Gathe Raho, after being one of only seven South Asian groups able to compete in the event.</p>

December 2015 | Nuttin’ But V.O.C.A.L.S. won first place at Gathe Raho, after being one of only seven South Asian groups able to compete in the event.

Nuttin’ But V.O.C.A.L.S, Rutgers’ all-male South Asian a cappella group, won first place on April 2 at Gathe Raho, one of the most prestigious South Asian a cappella competitions. 

Gathe Raho is an a cappella competition held annually by the University of Iowa in which seven of the best South Asian teams compete for $4,000 in total prize money, according to the Gathe Raho website.

Teams from all over country apply for the competition, and the top seven teams are chosen to compete on stage in Iowa.

NBV, the only all-male South Asian a cappella group at Rutgers, was founded in 2011 by Ronak Chawla and Saiharish Kota, according to their Facebook page. The group sings a mixture of South Asian and English songs, and often fuses the two genres together.

The organization has been trying to qualify for Gathe Raho for the past couple of years and were finally able to compete, said Mihir Dixit, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and NBV’s music director.

“Our journey was paved with a lot of hard work," he said. "All of us really put in a lot of time and effort to create the mashes, to come up with the choreography, to do everything.” 

It was a collaborative effort, Dixit said, and that is something he admires about the team. 

"In terms of getting to the championship and to getting to where we are, we did everything together," he said.

Compared to previous competitions, the group worked together to improve on the songs they had, Dixit said. 

The group did not place in the last competition they participated in. They decided to amend one of their pieces to make it more concise and consistent, he said. 

“We spent a good amount of time trying to revamp that one piece. Other than that we tried to improve upon what we had already. Just nitpicking on some really fine details," he said. 

Apart from the team as a whole winning first place, three members were given individual awards. Vidhaath Sripathi won best vocal percussionist and Anirudh Vojjala and Kaustubh Deshpande tied for best male vocalists.

Vojjala, a School of Engineering junior and the NBV tenor, started learning Carnatic music since he was three years old, and joined NBV two years ago.

“I sing all the time, I do it subconsciously," he said. “I’ve also been learning about myself and looking up things and asking professionals for tips so I can change the way I sound. It was great getting the prize because it’s shown me that it all paid off.”

Every member of NBV contributes to all their songs and work, Vojjala said. 

“Every single person adds so much and if we had even one person missing from our team, I don’t know if we would’ve won," he said.

It was a great experience, he said, because they had the chance to meet up with other a cappella teams, which included some old friends and some new ones as well.

In terms of future endeavors, Dixit hopes for the team to one-day record some of their work.

“Our number one priority is to get into the recording studio. We really want to make sure we can spread our sound as best as we can. The best way to do that is to record, whether it be a mixed tape, a single, or an album," he said.

Madhuri Bhupathiraju is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @madhuri448 for more.

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