Imagine a group sitting around a dinner table, with people in the kitchen and laughter filling the room. This is not a scene in the suburbs. This is the a cappella group Harmonyx taking part in what they consider their core value: being a family.
Harmonyx, founded in 1995 by Raegan McDonald, is one of the five performing subsets of the Black Student Movement. The group welcomes all people with a passion to sing and a desire to stand with a group that operates as a bonded unit.
Junior Gregory Davis is entering his fourth semester with Harmonyx. He said he feels that the group itself means family within music.
“Harmonizing is big for us, and it’s not just harmonizing with song, it’s also harmonizing with each other emotionally,” Davis said. “If you don’t bring the family all together then you can’t have great music — especially a capella music.”
President Tatiana Egbuna said that Harmonyx immediately felt like home when she joined the group her first year.
“Although we are a business, a lot of the way we run is family-first,” Egbuna said. “That’s really important to us to know that everybody in the group is okay.”
Black Student Movement President Qieara Lesesne oversees all groups that operate under BSM. She said she feels the bond of Harmonyx members exemplifies one of her goals for BSM for the 2018-2019 school year.
“That family, close supportive environment is something that I want for our community and something that we’ve kind of been playing around with," Lesesne said. "But really the main focus of this new admin is really inviting people to more inclusive events, social events and educational events so that way we can grow and spend time together as a family.”
Multiple members of Harmonyx said they yearn to extend their own strong ties with its members to people in the greater UNC community. They want to expand the familial bond shared within the group so that even non-members feel included.
“We just try to be inclusive,” Davis said. “We accept anybody – it doesn’t matter what nationality or anything, we just do that. So basically when people see Harmonyx they say, 'Oh, that’s inclusive music.'”
Members said the close-knit quality of the group does not stop when members graduate. The group keeps close ties with its past members and actively encourages communication with Harmonyx alums. The group holds events so that current and past members can talk about their experiences.
“You get to see how the group was a couple years ago and how it is now,” said Jonae Benson, business manager for Harmonyx.
Along with their musical and personal bonds, Harmonyx actively participates in the University community. During times of social tension, the group will post statements regarding their position on what is occurring.
“Music is really a healing tool and can bring a lot of joy and peace in times of unrest and confusion and we take it very seriously,” Egbuna said.
Harmonyx said they believe their presence on campus is a step in celebrating diversity and inclusion within the University. Harmonyx is one of the only primarily minority-composed a cappella groups on UNC's campus.
“A big part of what we do is try to uplift people with our voices,” Egbuna said. “To see that diversity on campus and for other Black students and other minorities to see that, ‘Oh wow, there’s another group here that looks like me.'”
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