Those with any knowledge of the a cappella world are likely to be familiar with an all-male ensemble known as The Beelzebubs. Hailing from Tufts University, the Bubs (as they are often called) are a tour de force that has been recognized as one of the most widely respected and acclaimed groups in the genre – a title they secured long before their appearance on Season One of NBC’s The Sing-Off (where they ultimately took second place).
In addition to The Sing-Off, their voices were also heard on Fox’s hit show choir offering “Glee,” creating the rich sound that became synonymous with the fictional Dalton Academy Warblers.
Outside of television, their recordings are perennial favorites whose production values have set the standard for the rest of the recorded a cappella world, and whose top-to-bottom fantastic performances give them a timeless appeal no matter the year they were released. Tracks from their albums are consistently selected for inclusion on the Best of College A cappella compilation series (in addition to other genre-specific compilations), and they frequently garner nominations and win honors bestowed by the Contemporary A cappella Recording Awards board.
Beyond the realm of the studio, the group has performed all over the country – and the world – embarking on national and international tours every year that have taken them to almost every state in the nation and continent on the globe. During their travels, they have performed for people such as President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while gracing famous venues such as Fenway Park (during an MLB All-Star game) and the Late Show with David Letterman.
The Bubs have additionally been a breeding ground for some of the most prolific, game-changing talents in a cappella, including Deke Sharon and Ed Boyer (whose most recent collaboration occurred on the set of Universal Studio’s “Pitch Perfect”), and have, with the help of these great a cappella minds, created the model for high-quality a cappella, both live and recorded, over the years.
And this year, they turn 50.
Half a century of iconic music-making is quite a feat, especially given the rapidly changing face of a cappella. But the group has not just merely kept up – in many regards, they have set the standard, and continually raised the bar for all other groups hoping to achieve greatness.
The Bubs have been celebrating their semi-centennial year by continuing their long-held tradition of engaging performances of eclectic music – a year which is leading up to a large celebration late this May. The highly anticipated weekend-long blowout will bring together a reported 200 alumni.
The group’s current President, Vinny Amaru, told A Cappella Records that he credits the long-term success of the group to a fortunate combination of its visionary founding/former membership, the dedicated men who kept tradition alive over the years, and the relationship forged between current Bubs and their alumni.
“The alumni connection is so important – guys really get to understand how far we’ve come to be who we are today,” Amaru said. “Nothing happened overnight. It happened over the course of 50 years.”
He added, “I can’t say how much of [our opportunities were born out of] luck … but without dedication, the group wouldn’t be able to function as well as it does.”
But of all the defining characteristics of this historic group – the innovative recordings, the stellar and sometimes breathtaking live performances, the international tours – the most significant part of the Bubs experience is the time they spend together forging friendships and making memories that will last a lifetime, and the persevering brotherhood that lasts long after members have left the group.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun – the brotherhood that I have with these guys is something I never could have imagined,” he said. “It didn’t matter what class they were in, or what part they sang – the bond I have with these guys is one I will never, ever forget, and that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
He added, “These are the greatest friends I’ve ever had.”