Academy's newest sound began 'In the Stairwell'

Air Force Academy Cadets with the a cappella group In the Stairwell perform for KKTV Channel 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo., Dec. 11, 2009. The group of about 20 cadets has also recently performed in a statewide competition against groups from the University of Colorado, Denver University and Colorado State University. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Van Winkle)

Air Force Academy Cadets with the a cappella group In the Stairwell perform for KKTV Channel 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo., Dec. 11, 2009. The group of about 20 cadets has also recently performed in a statewide competition against groups from the University of Colorado, Denver University and Colorado State University. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Van Winkle)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- If it weren't for restrictions on where fourth-class cadets can and can't wander, one a cappella group might not exist -- at least not with their current name.

"In the Stairwell" was born when members of the Air Force Academy's Class of 2007 had to find a location for freshmen who enjoyed singing together. The name came from where the group met for rehearsals. Word of the group has spread across the Academy and beyond its gates, including performances in the Mile High Vocal Jam in Denver earlier in the semester.

"It was a blast to see other colleges' a cappella groups and see how we stacked up," said Cadet 1st Class Taylor Baughn, who joined In the Stairwell this year.

The group also performed Dec. 11 for Colorado Springs TV network KKTV, which serves a population of about 380,000.

"From what I understand, someone at KKTV read an article in the Gazette about us and talked to us about performing for the KKTV morning show," Cadet Baughn said.

In the Stairwell has also spread some holiday cheer recently. Cadet 2nd Class Alexander Choi said the group's song selection is straightforward.

"We choose songs in general just based on how much we like them," he said. "Most of our music is arranged by 2007 graduate Joe Zieja. We sometimes even learn songs by just listening to them a couple times and figuring them out. If there are missing parts, we just improvise and add our own parts to complete the sound."

The group of about 20 is now focused on increasing its exposure in the greater Colorado community. In the past, performances have been limited to Academy-related events, such as squadron formal dinings-in, commissioning ceremonies, promotions, retirements, changes of command and the like.

"This year, we've been really trying to get our name out in the community so that they know what we're all about," Cadet Choi said. "This was the first year In the Stairwell competed in statewide a cappella competition against other schools like the University of Colorado, Denver University, Colorado State University and others."

In the Stairwell got compliments from Black Lively, the runner up from the sixth season of American Idol, and Tony Huerta, sound technician for the three-time Emmy award-winning a cappella group Face.

In the Stairwell takes their vocal passion to the streets and to the recording studio, with three previous albums recorded and another in the works. To find out more about the groups creating sound waves everywhere they go, visit http://www.inthestairwell.org.