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Q&A: Meet Cadence, a friend group first, an a cappella group second

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UNC Cadence poses for a group photo at the Old Well on Oct. 26, 2023. 
 Photo Courtesy of Logan Kelly.

The Daily Tar Heel's Delphine Liu spoke with Ava Cohen, a senior at UNC and the president of Cadence, an a cappella group for nonbinary and femme-presenting performers, about the group’s history and their unique sound as part of a series featuring each a cappella group on campus. 

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily Tar Heel: Can you tell me a little about the history of Cadence?

Ava CohenLast school year, in the spring, we celebrated our 20th anniversary of Cadence. It was formed in 2003, basically as a place for diverse and passionate people to come together through their love of music in order to make a difference on campus and their surrounding community, and practice that love for music and develop relationships with each other. 

It was founded by Lachi —if you look her up, she is such a slay. She is a musical artist and was present at the Barbie movie premiere. So, Cadence history is really special and cool, and we were able to reach out to her prior to our concert in the spring, and she sent us a little video that we got to play at our concert.

So, it's cool to remember Cadence’s history and be inspired by the awesome members that we've had over the last 20 years.

DTH: Who is allowed to join Cadence?

AC: Our group is mainly people that are femme presenting, but we're very open to varying gender identities and expressions.

We wouldn't want to limit anyone who identifies other than femme presenting, so we can have nonbinary members, any femme-presenting person is welcome and encouraged to audition.

DTH: Your website describes you as 'the sassiest a cappella group at UNC,' what does that mean? 

AC: I think we're trying to phase out that catchphrase, but it really just tells you a little bit more about the personality of Cadence.

I know that some performing groups kind of take this a cappella very seriously and performing very seriously which is something that of course we do, like we value our sound overall, but really, we're a friend group first, is what we like to say.

We very much have a broad variety of personalities, a lot of big personalities, and I think we're kind of known for that sense in that friends are first, and the relationships in our group are definitely what make it what it is.

DTH: How would you describe Cadence's sound?

ACMainly pop, but we like to sing country pieces, choral pieces and R&B. We have done some oldies in the past and oftentimes those genres are our favorite to sing, just maybe because they're doing something a little different.

DTH: Who gets to pick all the music?

ACEvery semester we hold "song selection," which is a special rehearsal in which every group member is able to participate in discussion about picking songs for the following semester.

Prior to that special rehearsal, we set up a Google Sheet, and depending on the semester, how many songs we're looking to add to our current set, our set for the concerts that we have twice a year, every group member is encouraged to submit suggestions to the spreadsheet.

The day of song selection rehearsal, discussion is facilitated by the president, but discussion happens among all members.

DTH: In what ways is a cappella empowering to you? Why do you like it?

AC: It’s really important for me to have that creative musical outlet during my daily week and I think the reason Cadence is so important to me is that there's something to look forward to every week.

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Every time I go to rehearsal, I always end up feeling better afterwards. I think that's just the power of music and community.

You get to spend time with your friends and kind of forget about everything else that may have happened during the day and just express yourself and hang out with people that uplift you. 

DTH: When does Cadence perform?

ACWe have a concert two times, once in the fall and once in the spring every school year. In the last month before the concert it’s basically, eat, sleep, breathe, Cadence concert. It’s a big undertaking. We perform 12 songs full out. We do choreography, we have lights, we have professional sound come in. It's kind of our big deal. 

DTH: Do you run any philanthropic or community building events?

AC: A big part of Cadence is that we donate a percentage of our ticket proceeds to a different organization every concert. That organization is selected based on group vote. This [fall] concert we're partnering with WomenNC. Last year we were able to host a benefit concert, which was our big community service event. All the proceeds went to several different organizations, that was super special. It was a super big undertaking, but we try to be involved as much as we can.

DTH: Do you have a particularly special memory from your time with Cadence?

ACMy first concert there was just something so electric about being on stage. I was someone who had struggled with stage fright when singing alone, but all that disappeared. As soon as we walked out, you felt the energy of the crowd. That is something that I'll never forget. Every time we have a concert, I just can't wait for that feeling, you can't get it anywhere else.

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UNC Cadence performs during their fall concert in the Carolina Union on Nov. 10, 2023. Photo Courtesy of Calli Westra.

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com 

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