Change and a cappella are in the air as the new school year begins. With FallFest and Sunset Serenade this week, students will hear performances from UNC’s nine major a cappella groups. Here’s a guide to what sets the groups apart and what they do here on campus:
The UNC Walk-Ons, known for their Carolina-blue Converse and Wednesday night Pit performances, are a co-ed a cappella group that was founded in 2001.
Meredith McNairy, senior and the president of the Walk-Ons, said the group is full of fun personalities and unique voices.
“We all get along really well and we’re a big family,” she said.
McNairy said one of her favorite songs the group sings is “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne.
"Adam Ramsey sings that and he has this gorgeous, soulful voice,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to hear that.”
Harmonyx is UNC’s premiere Black a cappella group, which junior member Greg Davis said exhibits musical talent within the Black community.
“How Harmonyx impacts the Black Student Movement is we create showcases of musical talent,” Davis said. “Everyone can look at it and say, 'Wow, these people are really gifted, and they’ve really got a voice for our Black community.'”
Some of Davis’ favorite songs to perform are “Slide” by Calvin Harris and “Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly.
“We bring the style, the swag and everything within a cappella,” Davis said. “You usually don’t think of swag when you think of a cappella groups. However, we bring it and we sing everything that everyone loves to hear.”
From Justin Bieber to gospel, Psalm 100 has a wide variety of songs in its repertoire. This co-ed Christian group is dedicated to spreading its religion through music.
“Christianity is a really complex thing and I know a lot of people don’t have great experiences with it, and so we really want to love up on people,” Psalm 100 President Kayla Rutledge said. “We sing a variety of music, but we try to sing a lot of music that shows the character of God, and how merciful He is.”
Cadence, founded in 2003, is all about empowering women. The all-female group does not charge for gigs and is service-oriented.
“We select gigs we do carefully based on what we believe in, such as service,” Cadence President Lauren Atherton said.
Atherton said her favorite song the group sings is “You And I” by Lady Gaga, which Cadence is about to release a music video for.
Tar Heel Voices
Tar Heel Voices is a co-ed group that President Molly Smith said welcomes every kind of voice.
“I think that we try to include a diverse range of songs, and we’re not afraid to put a ballad next to a more choral song or one of the popular pop songs,” Smith, a senior, said.
Smith said Tar Heel Voices has helped her find a home within a home at UNC.
“At Carolina, as fun and amazing as it is, can be really difficult to find a group of people you can really connect with on a different level,” Smith said. “And I think that’s really easy when you can bond over something as beautiful as music.”
When they’re not performing onstage, the Tarpeggios can be found at their weekly Survivor watch club or playing intramural soccer together.
Sophomore Gayathri Raghavendra, president of the Tarpeggios, said the camaraderie of the co-ed a cappella group makes it special to her.
“I think we have an energy and a vibe that is truly contagious,” Raghavendra said. “I think we are really accepting of people, and we like to share our love for music with other people.”
One of Raghavendra’s favorite songs to perform is “Carolina State of Mind,” a UNC version of “Empire State of Mind” by Alicia Keys.
“It’s really fun to sing about Carolina to Carolina students,” she said.
The Loreleis were the first a cappella group to ever win the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, better known as “ICCA” or “that competition from ‘Pitch Perfect’,” in 1996. This all-women’s a cappella group was founded in 1981 and has been producing albums ever since.
“I think that we’ve got a really rich history,” Olivia Dunn, president of the Loreleis, said. “We’ve done some really cool performances at the White House, and opening for Jay Leno twice, so we’ve got some really exciting things under our belt that I think make us special.”
Dunn said this year, her group is excited to perform “Flames” by Sia and David Guetta, “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé, “Cowboy Casanova” by Carrie Underwood and an Ariana Grande mashup.
“We’re really proud of those,” she said. “They’re big powerhouse songs.”
Clad in bow ties printed with the musical notes from “Hark the Sound,” the Clef Hangers are focused on preserving their group’s traditions. This all-male a cappella group performs in waistcoats covered in buttons from places they’ve traveled, which they then pass down to new members.
Clef Hangers President Patrick Dow, a UNC senior, said he values the friendships he has made through the group.
“We end up with individuals from all walks of life, who are studying different subjects and have different backgrounds,” Dow said.
Dow said some of his favorite songs the group currently performs are “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, “Carolina in my Mind” by James Taylor and a Maroon 5 mashup.
The Achordants are best known for their a cappella baseball jerseys, which sophomore member Clay Cooper said adds to their fun-loving atmosphere.
“I think we strive to be one of the more fun a cappella groups on campus,” Cooper said. “When we’re performing, we don’t just stand in a semicircle and sing. We’re always up there doing silly stuff and dancing around, and trying to keep the energy really high.”
Cooper said the Achordants sing a variety of music, but his favorite song to perform right now is “Burnin’ Up” by the Jonas Brothers.
“It sounds silly and fun, but I think it represents the group in a really cool way,” Cooper said. “It’s always fun to perform it.”