Giving a voice to the voiceless

An a cappella group for those who can't sing

While studying in OpenGrounds one afternoon, fourth-year College students Emma DiNapoli, Jeremy Klitzman, Annie Crabill and Sam Atkeson were commiserating about their shared — yet unrealized — dream of being in an a cappella group. Feeling disenfranchised from the established a cappella scene, the students decided to take matters into their own hands — founding a group for those who love singing but have no experience doing it.

“As a part of the audition we ask them if they have ever tried out for an a cappella group before, because ideally this is for people who not only can’t sing but know that they can’t sing,” Crabill said. “The point is to have a group of people who just like singing and just do it out of sheer enjoyment.”

Klitzman boasts of having taken chorus his senior year of high school and DiNapoli claims to have listened to a cappella since she was born, so between their knowledge and the assistance of their friends in other a cappella groups, Klitzman and DiNapoli hope to advance in the a cappella scene.

“We will click as a group and have back up parts and vocals, but not necessarily have good back up parts and vocals,” Klitzman said.

Since the group is not part of the A Cappella Presidents Council, they are not bound by the same rules as other groups who cannot sing a song if another group else has already covered it. Free to sing any song they choose, the group hopes to model their performances off of other groups.

“Basically people are going to arrange music for us and then when we have a song that we don’t have arranged music for, we are just going to copy how the Hullabahoos do it,” Klitzman said. “We are going to be like an a cappella cover group, almost.”

In order to test the creative limits of their prospective members, the audition process required the singers to act out skits made up by the founders, with topics ranging from an existential monkey pondering its existence to Teresa Sullivan picking up guys at a bar on the Corner.

“It was cool because a lot of our friends tried out, which was awesome, but it was kind of expected,” Crabill said. “There were a lot of first-years who we didn’t know at all. Emma put it up on Connections and people came just because of that, and it was great.”

When prospective members began to use too much singing lingo, such as “alto” or “soprano,” the founders had to ask them to tone it down a notch. They will be referring to everyone in the group as “high,” “middle” or “low” singers in order to make things a bit easier.

Having completed auditions Thursday, DiNapoli, Klitzman, Crabill and Atkeson said they are still hammering out the details.

“This is still a baby group,” Klitzman said. “We are still taking our first steps.”

The founders said their performances will be very different from the performances of other a cappella groups. They discussed singing human pyramids, summersaults, background dancers and people being thrown in the air. The audience will be welcome to sing along, laugh, dance or cry as they feel appropriate.

“At a lot of a cappella concerts, you feel moved but you just have to sit there; you can’t do anything,” DiNapoli said.

After many hours of auditions, the No Tones accepted 28 members into their group. They plan to have the first show sometime in the late spring at a Corner bar, where they said the atmosphere will be conducive to a fun experience for everyone.

Published February 11, 2014 in Life

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