Arts and Entertainment

Kent's Fernandez heads to Los Angeles for singing competition | VIDEO

Central Washington University junior Antonio Fernandez rehearses in March as a member of Boots
Central Washington University junior Antonio Fernandez rehearses in March as a member of Boots 'n' Cats, a seven-person a cappella group.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Rich Villacres, CWU

For the Reporter

Kent's Antonio Fernandez, a member of the singing group Boots 'n' Cats, travels to Los Angeles to compete in the Varsity Vocals International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella regional semifinals Saturday.

Fernandez, a Kentwood High School graduate and a junior at Central Washington University, joined six classmates to form the small, mixed a cappella group. He is pursuing a degree in music composition.

The name Boots 'n' Cats was suggested as a joke, but it stuck. Repeating the words boots and cats while emphasizing only the consonants is a way for beginners to grasp the concept of beat boxing, aka vocal percussion.

Fernandez is the group's resident beat boxer and bass singer. He was introduced to beat boxing in sixth grade when he watched an Internet video demonstrating the technique.

"Since then, I thought, you know what, that is so cool, I want to learn how to do that," Fernandez said. "And so that's kind of been my drive—finding cool noises and trying to emulate them myself."

Like the other members of Boots 'n' Cats, Fernandez embraced a passion for music at a young age.

"If I'm trying to get a lift up, or if I'm already high on life and just want to celebrate, music has just been my foundation of who I am," he said.

The other singers in his group are Bo Mendez, Emily Salisbury, Nicole Prigge, Aryn Chatterton, Sarah Hemenway, and Ben Lundgren.

The group sings feel-good music with toe tapping beats. Each song tells a story, and the group's set arrangement tells another story. It's a 12-minute, uplifting presentation that compels anyone within earshot to groove along.

Boots 'n' Cats finished second out of 10 groups in the February quarterfinals at Pacific Lutheran University. Fernandez took home an individual award for outstanding vocal percussion. The win advanced them to the semifinals next month at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. The winners of that contest will advance to nationals on April 26 in New York City.

Watch a short video introducing Boots 'n' Cats on CWU's YouTube channel. Also, watch the group's PLU performance that advanced them to the semifinals on YouTube. To learn more about the group, find them on Facebook.

For more information about CWU's music department, go online to


Central Washington University's mixed a cappella group, Boots 'n' Cats, from left: Aryn Chatterton, Ben Lundgren, Emily Salisbury, Antonio Fernandez, Sarah Hemenway, Nicole Prigge and Bo Mendez. Courtesy, Rick Spencer, CWU














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