Ranked as the fourth-best collegiate a cappella group in the Northeast and among the top 32 in the nation, The Bottom Line, Bryant’s co-ed a cappella group, is ending a year filled with high notes. After a competition season marked with successful showings and major awards, the group recently recorded its first single, which will be released this fall free to the Bryant community and through Spotify and Apple Music.
The recording caps a year of achievement. Competing in the 2019 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) for the third consecutive year, The Bottom Line won the 2019 Northeast Quarterfinal, where Max Pudvar ’21 also received the Top Vocal Percussion Award and Janna Blackstone ’20 and Nina Grogan ’21 took the Top Choreography Award. The group also placed fourth in the Northeast Semifinal held at Boston’s Symphony Hall, where Blackstone and Grogan again won the Top Choreography Award.
“We come in as underdogs wherever we go. We're accountants and Communication majors going up against some of the top music schools in the country,” says Endy Perry ’19. “But we're Bryant students, so we're always striving for excellence – it's part of everything we do.”
Hitting high notes
Success at that level means hard work. Mastering a competition set of four songs, arranged by Elliott von Wendt, the former award winning Music Director of the 2017 ICCA Champion Nor’easters, means long hours and close coordination. In October, the group begins rehearsing five times a week for 8 to 10 hours a week, drilling choreography and learning music.
“We do the hard work because we love it and we love working together. We want to do it not just for ourselves, but for each other.”
In preparation for competition, members moved back to Bryant a week early in January for an intensive choreography and vocal technique boot camp. They also invited several clinicians to come in and assist with the process.
“When we rehearse, people are there early and they stay late,” says Nicholas Gacinski ’19. “Our arrangements don't take a long time to learn, but it takes months to make them perfect. You have to go through every single vowel, every single word, every single nuance.”
“The feeling of running off the stage after competition and just knowing that you put all your work out there, and that all of your best friends put all their work out there with you, is amazing."
That level of commitment leads to more than show-stopping routines; it builds dedication, focus, and confidence. “When I first started here at Bryant, I was a very shy and timid person,” says Max Harz ’19, President of The Bottom Line. “Now I can perform in Boston Symphony Hall. That confidence transfers to your academics, your professional life, and your personal life as well.”
An a cappella family
For The Bottom Line, success is a group effort. New members are selected not just on vocal talent but on how they gel with the other singers. Additions to the repertoire are made by group vote. Throughout the process, Flo St. Jean, the Bottom Line’s advisor and Director of the Bryant Singers, provides advice and guidance.
The bonds the members form with one another are one of the group’s key strengths. “We do the hard work because we love it and we love working together,” says Gacinski. “We want to do it not just for ourselves, but for each other.”
That also makes success feel even better. “The best part of the competition was seeing it all come together on stage and being able to perform with my a cappella family,” says Blackstone. “We’re so proud of our whole team,” agrees Grogan. “I truly believe the choreography award is a group award because every member executed each choreographed move perfectly.”
“The feeling of running off the stage after competition and just knowing that you put all your work out there, and that all of your best friends put all their work out there with you, is amazing,” says Pudvar. “And then, when you’re done, you get to enjoy it together.”