By Adelle Brodbeck
A cappella groups may have just recently become a hot trend in pop culture with shows like “Glee” and movies like “Pitch Perfect,” but Ohio Wesleyan has been making unaccompanied singing magic since 1999.
Currently there are three a cappella groups on campus: the two youngest are Pitch Black and the Jaywalkers, and the oldest is Owtsiders.
Pitch Black, the women’s a cappella group, was founded in 2005 and continues to grow and improve each year. They recently held auditions for new members and out of over 30 girls who auditioned, only eight made the final cut.
Junior Grace Thompson, Pitch Black’s director, said the audition process was fairly stressful.
“It was a really tough decision,” she said “Honestly, everyone that auditioned had a great voice.”
Thompson joined Pitch Black her first semester and by the end of freshman year she had earned the role of the group’s director.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take on such a big role after only a year in the group,” she said. “But I was encouraged by some older group members to go for it, so I did.”
As director, Thompson had to make tough decisions concerning new members, but she said other members provided a good support system.
“Our group is very trusting and honest,” she said. “We’re very good at keeping each other in the right mindset.”
Junior Emma Buening, one of Pitch Black’s new members, said she is very excited to finally become a part of the group. After a failed attempt to join her freshman year, she took voice lessons to help improve her singing.
“I really think (the voice lessons) helped my confidence,” she said.
Buening said “find(ing) your own voice)” is important to having success with a cappella.
“(T)rying to make your voice sound like someone else’s will never pan out,” she said.
Junior Todd Zucker has been a member of Jaywalkers, the men’s a cappella group, since the second semester of his freshman year.
Zucker said a cappella has been a very rewarding experience.
“It is something that I enjoy very much,” he said, “It’s a pretty relaxing moment twice a week to be able to sing with the group, who have become my close friends.”
After two and a half years with the group, Zucker said his favorite song to sing overall has been the Pokémon theme song.
“People always seem to be pleasantly surprised to hear it,” he said.
Sophomore Jerry Lherisson joined Jaywalkers his freshman year as a way to continue pursuing his passion for singing. In high school, Lherisson started a coed a cappella group as well as belonging to a men’s group, so singing unaccompanied is not something new to him.
“The best part about being a Jaywalker is the atmosphere that such an eclectic group of guys develop,” he said. “We all contribute to a very enjoyable and fun atmosphere.”
Lherisson said one of the other positive aspects of being a member of the Jaywalkers is the group’s vast diversity.
“There is a wide range of backgrounds, ideologies and interests in the group,” he said. “There are athletes as well as actors, members of SLUs as well as fraternities, and there are fine arts majors as well as politics and government majors.”
The third a cappella group that belongs to OWU is Owtsiders, the only co-ed group of the three. The group was started in 1999 when two students wanted to bring a new and exciting club to the school that would allow people to embrace their passion for singing.
Sophomore Julia Stone said the Owtsiders still sing some of the same arrangements as the first members did in 1999. Stone also said other members are allowed to suggest songs or present their own arrangements, but her favorites to perform are “Valerie” by Amy Whinehouse and “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap.
Stone said she has been involved in singing in choirs since the third grade and hopes to continue singing after college. Many other members of Owtsiders share her experience of being involved in singing for a long time, and it is one of their many interests.
“There are a lot of people in the group with different majors,” Stone said. “We have quite a few music or music education majors this year, but also several others in the sciences or humanities.”
OWU’s three a cappella groups display the wide range of interests of the students, as well as the immense talent that they all possess.