By Sarah Nunez ’22
It’s an unusually cool Tuesday night. Slowly but surely, the Frary steps soon begin to fill. The night begins with Women’s Blue and White, the only(?) women’s a capella group at the Claremont Colleges. The women stand in a semi-circle, nervously smiling at the audience. The usual greetings are done, and as Sam Bloomfield ’22 takes center stage, she begins to belt with the best of them.
According to Bloomfield, the bond that she and her group share is something that is “so special… everyone is so supportive and kind and it is genuinely such a great experience.”
They begin with their rendition of the Chainsmokers’ Roses. Filled with a bubbly energy, and some fun dancing, the group seemed to genuinely enjoy being there. Dressed in blue jeans and with nervous smiles, the group gave off a casual sweetness.
The next group was Midnight Echo, and with their matching sweatshirts, and confident swagger, they captivated the audience. They began with a fun, bouncy, and vocally impressive version of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, a rather difficult song, but the group, with their infectious energy, truly shined. With such a high-energy performance, it was easy to forget how beautiful and impressive the group’s vocals were. The song continued into an key change that had me suppress a squeal: Bryan Williams (CMC ’21) was a true performer that night, and had the crowd bouncing along with him as he hit each note with a ring of confidence. Bryan, if you are reading this, I am attaching my phone number to the end of this article.*
The following week, I saw the After School Specials (ASS), who had been hyped up so much, I felt fear of disappointment. The group, with cleverly made “ASS-hats”, were self assured and had the vocals to back this up. Their rendition of Evergreen was filled with soul, heart, and was a really breathtaking performance. The audience was clearly enthralled, and the performance felt like a genuinely moving experience for all who were listening. The vocalist, Julia Rodgers (PO ’21), showed off her range with some powerful riffs, and the group knew exactly how to balance and blend together. I had the chance to speak to a few group members after their performance, and they told me about their experience with acapella at the colleges. According to Malik Power (PO ‘21), the group has a “work hard, play hard” mentality. The After School Specials in particular tended to not take themselves too seriously, while maintaining a respect and appreciation for their work and the music.
I also asked group members about the relationships between the groups. I was hoping to find some gossip, perhaps stories about showdowns featuring jazz hands and spontaneous dance numbers. However, the groups were quick to dismiss this. What I was excited to hear about, however, was the positive dynamics between the groups. And while I was dying to hear about potentially Glee-worthy riff-offs or drama, the groups seem to all be working towards the same goal of creating something moving, inspiring, fun, and positive.
Each group has their own vibe, their own personality, and their own voice. This is clear when you watch them perform.