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Where are the YorVoice winners now?

With the annual YorVoice competition just a few days away, singers and bands are no doubt warming up their pipes and flexing their harmonies before they hit the stage at the Appell Center for the Performing Arts in downtown York.

The Cultural Alliance of York County will continue feeding the arts scene with its singing competition showcasing local talent, and of course, having fun on Saturday, March 24.

In addition to instilling local pride, the Cultural Alliance organized YorVoice as a way to help raise awareness for its annual campaign, which provides operating funds for cultural partners and for art projects, educational programs, installations and festivals. 

But after the trophies are awarded, a champion named, and the curtains have closed, what happens next? Here is a look at what happened to past winners of the competition, now in its fourth year.

Adelaide Achterberg, 2017 winner

Since emerging as the champion of last year’s singing competition – and receiving the People’s Choice nod – Adelaide Achterberg, has gone on to attend Rowan University in New Jersey, where she is studying musical theater.

“I’m still trying to figure it all out still. I have different ideas of what I want and where I hope to end up, but as long as I’m doing what I love – music and theater – and affect people with what I’m doing, I’ll be happy.”

The 18-year-old will return to Saturday’s competition, only as a judge this time around.

Kelley Gibson, director of communications and engagement for the Cultural Alliance of York County, said Achterberg will be joined by fellow judges Davon Fleming, who competed in NBC’s “The Voice” on Jennifer Hudson’s team; Lee King, owner of music recording studio Studio 117; and self-taught pianist and composer Peter Bottros, a native of Egypt who created the Shine Foundation to bring music programming to York City schools.  

Though Achterberg was nervous about performing when she first took the stage last year at YorVoice, Achterberg said “everything made sense” once the music started and she sang her rendition of “I’m Not Afraid of Anything” from the musical, Songs for a New World by New York City-based composer Jason Robert Brown. 

“The sense of community there is amazing. I feel really welcomed and appreciated. It was the best performance of my life so far,” she said. “It was awesome. That stage was incredible to perform on and the energy … the energy you receive, it was just great.”

Having taken voice lessons in fifth grade, Achterberg credits her mother who sings in church with getting her into music. To alleviate her stage fright, she said she focuses on how grateful she is to be where she is and how grateful she is to have fun.

YCP Rhapsody, 2016 winner

With their performance of “Radioactive” by the band Imagine Dragons, YCP Rhapsody netted the group a win in 2016. At the time, YCP Rhapsody, a student cappella group from York College, had 17 members.

“Winning YorVoice was an incredible experience to encounter during my first year as a member of Rhapsody. It helped us gain more confidence as a group and push us to accomplish more of our goals,” said Gillian Caplan, current president of the group. She is majoring in hospitality management.

Caplan, an alto on the 2016 winning team, is one of two still in the group. The other, Matthew Fertig, is YCP Rhapsody’s beatboxer. Popular with hip hop music, beatboxing is a vocal percussion created with the lips, teeth and tongue meant to mimic the sound of drums. 

Some members have continued to fuel their musical rhythms, said the group’s current secretary Andrew Fare, who joined in 2017. Bryan Loy, who was a member of the 2016 team, is currently a member of the Chocafellas, an a cappella group that performs at HersheyPark.

Alumni are invited to perform each year during the group’s end-of-year performance.

What’s changed about the group?

According to Fare, the group has advanced in its dynamics and volume by stepping up the sound and song choices. Now a group of 12, YCP Rhapsody previously known for singing, “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations and “It’s Raining Men” by the Weather Girls, has opted for more contemporary tunes like “Sorry Not Sorry,” by Demi Lovato.

“It’s a very rewarding experience to think of a song, learn it with the group and then hear it performed,” Fare said.

The AKT, 2015 winner

As the winners of the inaugural event, Zachary Zortman, Chad Smith and AJ Snyder of The AKT, paved the way for performers who have since graced the stage for the Cultural Alliance of York County’s singing competition. They performed “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran.

“It was a great night,” Zortman recalled. “There were some really talented musicians there that night, and honestly, we didn’t think we’d win.

Zortman, who was 26 at the time of the competition, said he still has his trophy from that night. From there, the group went on to be named the Best Band in York in 2016 by Susquehanna Style magazine. That same year though, Zortman received a life-changing diagnosis: anaplastic astrocytoma, an aggressive cancer and The AKT disbanded.

“I was driving in my car with my now-wife Annie, and I had about a lapse in my ability to speak for closer to a minute,” he recalled. After he got to the hospital, doctors determined he had a tumor in his brain, but it was what they described as a “gross total resection,” which allowed them to remove it. Nonetheless, he temporarily lost his ability to speak and sing.

But cancer didn’t stop Zortman. In fact, he took the experience and wrote a song, called “Meant to Live” that gained international attention. His story was featured in the New York Post and he appeared on talk shows throughout the U.S., as well as in Ireland and Spain.

Zortman said that YorVoice played a big part in his life while still offering the opportunity to perform and have a good time alongside fellow area musicians.

“We met a lot of really talented artists that we still keep in touch with,” he said.

Smith and Zortman have been playing together again under the name The AKT Duo, appearing at local venues as well as weddings and corporate events. When he’s not crooning for an audience, Zortman works with students in the York City School District as a behavioral specialist. He’s been there since last August and says he infuses music into his work in the classroom with activities like a “weekly rap” on Thursdays.

Though he admits he won’t ever go on tour, music will always be a part of his life.

Emily Thurlow
​Emily Thurlow covers York County​ for the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a tip? Drop her a line at [email protected].

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