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'A good unifier in times like this:' Loreleis release new album despite COVID-19

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UNC senior and Loreleis President Julia Kelly performs at a UNC Loreleis concert. UNC’s premier all-female a capella group, the Loreleis, will release a new album titled “Solstice” on April 18. Photo courtesy of Amy Smith.

Even with the University closed and everyone off campus, UNC's music scene treks on.

UNC’s premier all-female a capella group, the Loreleis, will release a new album titled “Solstice” on April 18. 

The Loreleis release an album every two years. Senior Marie McCoy is the music director and has helped with the arrangements and production work. 

“What’s cool about the fact that we do an album every two years is that it’s kind of a signifier of how the group has changed, what members are in it at any given time and what songs we’re singing,” McCoy said. “It’s like a time capsule of our group.”

Despite disruptions caused by COVID-19, the album is scheduled to release on time. 

“The timing ended up being fine because most of it was done before we realized that we weren’t going back to school,” McCoy said. “I had one more session with the mastering engineer, so we just did that virtually, and it was something that, thankfully, was easy to be done virtually.”

The Loreleis record songs with Pablo Vega, an alumnus of UNC’s Clef Hangers, who has a recording studio in Durham. After being edited by Vega and acclaimed music producer Ed Boyer, another Clef Hangers alumnus named Dave Sperandio completes the mixing and mastering.

“They are a huge part of the album process,” McCoy said. “Dave and I work together to come up with the specifics of what we want each song to sound like, and he can add a lot of effects and really create more of a final mixed product rather than just what you would hear live. It’s a little bit more special because he can do a lot of cool things with it.”

Senior Julia Kelly is the current president of the Loreleis. 

“I think we’ve always been really strategic about the songs that we pick for our albums, but with this album in particular, I think there’s been way more of a personal touch,” Kelly said. “They evoke these emotions and memories of performing that really signify girl power and being in a group with amazing women and performing with them and doing what you love to do all together.”

Due to COVID-19, the Loreleis cancelled the group's spring concert, which was set to happen on the same day as the album release. 

“We’ve been relying a little bit more on social media to get the word out,” said Loreleis' publicity manager Amy Smith. “We usually still use social media pretty heavily when we are on campus, because everyone uses it for the most part, but now it’s more of a transition from publicizing the concert to publicizing the album.”

While apart, the Loreleis are finding ways to stay connected. 

“Usually when the group listens to the album together, we do it in person, and it’s a big surprise at practice,” McCoy said. “And at that point, usually only the president and music director have heard it, so it’s a really special moment for the whole group. And luckily enough, through the amazing technology of Zoom, we were able to somewhat re-create that moment last week where we all got on Zoom and all pressed play at the same time on the album.”

The Loreleis have 17 undergraduate members, including five seniors. 

“I just think that moment of listening to the album as a group was probably more impactful than it even has been in years past, because everyone is dealing with so much,” McCoy said. “And we just really needed that chance to have 33 minutes and 40 seconds to just focus on this product that we’ve created together and how special that was.”

Kelly said that for the Loreleis, music is a powerful source of comfort during these unprecedented times.

“I don’t think I really came to a full realization of how much I needed music and how much I needed singing in my life until this past week,” Kelly said. “There’s something very therapeutic about music that’s hard to put into words, and it’s something that’s really difficult to not have with the Loreleis.”

“Solstice” will be available on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and Amazon Music. 

“It’s super important for people to keep sharing music, keep playing it, keep listening to it,” Smith said. “It’s the universal language. It’s a good unifier in times like this.”

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