The Longfellows stepped into the limelight yesterday when they auditioned for The Sing Off, an NBC reality TV show that pits a cappella groups against one another to win $100,000 and a Sony Music recording contract.
The show, which is hosted by Nick Lachey, completed its second season in December. Casting directors are now scouring the country for 10 a cappella groups to compete in The Sing-Off's third season.
The Longfellows, an all-male a cappella group, were invited to audition for "The Sing Off" three weeks ago after the casting director, Michelle McNulty, saw a clip of them performing at the International Championship of Collegiate A cappella (ICCA) on YouTube.
"We spend a lot of time learning about all the different a cappella groups across the country, and one of the ways in which we do that is by following the ICCA competitions," said McNulty, adding that the Longfellows "did really well in that competition."
The Longfellows won the quarterfinal at Brown University in February and advanced to the Northeast semifinal of the competition in March, where they received fourth place. Justin Foster '11 received an award for "most outstanding solo performance."
The group had originally decided not to audition for The Sing Off due to scheduling conflicts.
"A lot of collegiate groups get really nervous because of the possibility of the commitment that [the show] could be," said McNulty.
However, a week and a half ago, McNulty emailed the group asking them to reconsider auditioning.
"We received an invitation from someone involved in the production of the show, but later we received a second invite from the casting director asking us to come audition in Boston," said member Alex Jacobs '12.
McNulty said that she asked the group to reconsider after seeing them perform "Home" by Marc Broussard at the 2011 ICCA semifinals.
"At that point, when I had seen that video, I said 'OK, you boys can't tell me no. You guys need to come out and give this a shot,'" said McNulty.
Although The Longfellows were excited at the prospect of performing in the show, they also emphasized that this is a preliminary stage of the competition.
"We don't have particularly high expectations because the groups that are competing are particularly good, but it was nice to be asked," said Peter Murphy '12.
"We're all excited but I think everybody is very reasonable...nobody really expects to make it that far," Murphy added.
The group sang "Home" and "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele as well as "Still of the Night" by Whitesnake at the audition.
According to McNulty, the casting directors will be looking to see that the group blends well, has a good lead singer and is entertaining.
"I saw these three things in the video," said McNulty. "I have high hopes that they're going to deliver."
McNulty will also conduct casting interviews with the group to see what "identifies them outside of [being an] a cappella group."
"Seeing somebody live is always my preference because you really get to feel that energy and that passion that they put behind what they're doing, and they give you goosebumps if they're really, really good," said McNulty.
If the Longfellows are chosen, they will travel to Los Angeles in July to begin filming for the show. During the last two weeks of The Sing Off, which airs in December, the competing groups will perform live.
Past competitors on The Sing-Off have gone on to record contracts and perform in hit TV shows. The Beelzebubs, an all-male a cappella group from Tufts that placed second in the show's first season, provide song arrangements and background vocals for "The Dalton Academy Warblers" on the TV series "Glee."
The Longfellows rehearsed every day this week to prepare for the audition.
Still, Jacobs said that the group is cautious about being overly optimistic.
"We could just as easily not advance," said Jacobs. "It's still a fantastic opportunity and an experience we just can't pass up."