Winners of the Finals will be determined by a separate panel of judges, made up of three a cappella industry legends.
Annette Philip is a musician, innovator and influencer. A versatile vocalist hailing from Kerala, India, she is a musician, innovator and influencer. A versatile vocalist hailing from Kerala, India, she is known for her dense choral arrangements, concept-driven productions and delivering on big dreams. A seasoned recording and touring artist, composer, pianist and voice-over pro, Annette is a judge/vocal consultant on the Emmy-winning American TV choral contest, Sing That Thing! on WGBH (PBS). Among her various accolades are Woman of the Year (2016 – India New England foundation), and Artist of the Year (2018 – New England Choice Awards) for her work as a musical impresario and thought leader.
Annette is also a faculty member at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, serving as the Founding Director of the Berklee Indian Ensemble, a viral phenomenon in its own right with over 180 million views till date, as well as Artistic Director of Berklee India Exchange. She is the Indian representative of the internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning vocal quartet, Women of the World. Performing music in 37 languages, the four singers representing Japan, Italy, India and USA (via Haiti) believe that learning about myriad cultures in the world (through song) is one of the most powerful ways to gain and spread more understanding, respect and acceptance of one another.
Christopher Diaz is a vocalist, arranger, songwriter, producer, coach and teacher from Newport News, Virginia. In 2012, he co-founded the international touring group The Exchange, which performed hundreds of shows for audiences in over 50 countries on six continents, notably opening for The Backstreet Boys in their 32-city “In A World Like This” stadium tour. The Exchange worked extensively with the US Department of State in cultural outreach and diplomacy tours, and won second place on season five of NBC’s The Sing-Off. Christopher graduated from Florida State University School of Music with a bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance. There, he led the co-ed a cappella group All-Night Yahtzee to three consecutive ICCA Finals appearances, culminating in a second place finish in 2008, and was a two-time winner of the “Outstanding Soloist” award at the Finals. Christopher’s voice and arrangements have appeared on compilation albums such as Voices Only, BOCA, SING, and Voices Only Forte, and have won and been nominated for numerous CARAs. As a coach, Christopher has adjudicated, sung, and instructed at vocal festivals around the country and the world, and he served on the vocal coaching and arranging staff of NBC’s The Sing-Off, season three. He is currently the director of vocal music at The Miami Valley School in Dayton, Ohio, where he directs 2017 ICHSA Finalists Ars Nova.
Karen Lee Grybowski has traveled the globe to more than 40 countries as a modeling industry expert with an illustrious background in discovering, developing, and educating talent. Her notable experience and exceptional eye for talent have advanced and promoted the careers of top models for decades.
Karen Lee began her career as a model, working in top New York City designer showrooms. After gaining her Bachelor of Science in Physical Education & Wellness and a Master’s Degree in Education, she became a lead mentor and instructor in the original “Camp Model,” an instructional program focused on acclimating new models to the industry, teaching health and wellness practices such as nutrition and yoga, and providing coaching assistance with model style and runway skills.
Karen Lee then integrated her expertise to become a model scout, finding and recruiting new faces for leading agencies, including Elite, Pauline’s, and Wilhelmina. Her experience and keen eye for talent led to her 18-year tenure as Director of Scouting for Elite Model Management where she and a team of dedicated professionals launched the careers of hundreds of models, many of whom are still prominent today.
Additionally, Karen Lee played an integral role in the casting, coordination, and development of the legendary Elite Model Look, an international contest that started the careers of industry powerhouses such as Cindy Crawford, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Gisele Bundchen, to name a few.
In 2010, Karen used her vast experience and insight to start the Karen Lee Group. The company scouts models, aims to educate and empower model talent, and produces fashion shows and events, including Model U Workshops to teach healthy practices and industry knowledge.
Karen Lee was honored to be a guest judge on Tyra Banks’s acclaimed “America’s Next Top Model.” She is now a certified yoga teacher and works in coaching, casting, and scouting as she runs her own company and places models with agencies throughout the world. As Karen continues to mentor and develop emerging talent, she is also available for online consultations and coaching.
UpStagedAID has appointed three selection judges—all a cappella industry experts—who will score each entry video across two categories: Musicality and Performance. The 32 teams who score the highest will be entered into the competition.
Bryan Guffey (they/them) has been singing longer than they can remember (seriously, ask their parents). Since forming their first group, 50/50, in high school in 1997, Bryan has been a passionate advocate and believer in the power of vocal music to change lives for the better. After graduating with their BFA in Musical Theatre from Kent State in 2006, Bryan worked with Grammy Award-nominated composer Frank Wildhorn on a remount of the Broadway musical The Civil War in Gettysburg, PA, which led them to audition for Full Sail, an a cappella group on the six-star cruise line, Crystal Cruises, where they had the opportunity to work with and learn from the likes of Home Free’s Tim Foust. Bryan returned to the US where they helped launch A Cappella Records and become much more involved in the a cappella community. Today, when not working to better the tools behavioral health service providers have to support their clients, Bryan spends much of their time working with a cappella groups in the midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic areas, and serves as the Executive Director of their fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi.
Amanda Cornaglia is the manager for Acaville Radio, a 24/7 streaming service for a cappella music. Amanda is also co-owner of Clear Harmonies, a full service audio, video, and management company for a cappella groups. She got her start in contemporary a cappella with Special K, an all-female ensemble at Hamilton College. She has since performed and directed groups around the globe. She is business director and primary arranger of the multiple CARA nominated group Euphonism. She also founded Snowday, a professional quintet that incorporates contemporary vocal music into education, visiting close to 100 schools each year. She also sings with several barbershop choruses and quartets with Harmony, Inc. and the Barbershop Harmony Society. She has served in various capacities at the Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA) & turned the Contemporary A Cappella League into its own non-profit organization, currently serving on the Board as Immediate Past President. She is the producer for the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweepstakes and hosts a weekly podcast called Vocal HERspective, which features female-identifying leaders in the a cappella community. Amanda has served as a judge for numerous events since 2010, including the CARAs, ICCA, ICHSA, Harmony Sweepstakes, the AEA, and many local contests.
Evan Feist has been writing, teaching, and performing vocal music for over 15 years. He has vocal coached for NBC’s The Voice, and America’s Got Talent, and studied with Bobby McFerrin. In 2015, the New York Musical Theatre Festival awarded him “Best Arrangements/Orchestration” and “Best Musical Direction” for A Cappella: The Musical.
Evan has run the audio production company Stacks of Wax, spontaneous songwriting and vocal improvisation courses through the Creative Vocal Lab, and was the Content Director for the world’s first all vocal channel, FloVoice (a channel on the FloSports network). Currently, you can find Evan behind a mixing console running live sound for various a cappella groups, in a classroom teaching the a cappella pros of tomorrow, and producing content and digital media strategies for bands and music festivals.