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Wednesday October 27th

Canvas

Chapel Hill Rockapella: The UNC Harmonyx

Throughout the fall semester, Canvas will follow several of UNC’s student a cappella groups, looking and listening to what makes each unique.

In this sixth installment of the series, staff writer Sarah McQuillan looks at the melodic family of the UNC Harmonyx. 

Soulful, familial and maybe a little scandalous, the UNC Harmonyx’s combination of unique voices and personalities makes them a one-of-a-kind group on Carolina's a cappella scene.

The co-ed Harmonyx have been part of the UNC community since their formation in 1995. According to its members, one of the group’s most defining attributes is the brotherly and sisterly bond it creates.

“I think when you sing together, you form a connection,” said senior and group president Nicole Rogers. “It’s really weird, but you form a connection that’s unmatched.”

The bond extends beyond just Harmonyx rehearsals, according to sophomore and special events co-coordinator Dani Nicholson.

“We’re big on supporting each other because a lot of us are in different organizations on campus,” she said. “If somebody has another gospel concert or is on the dance team we go to those events to support our members in that way as well.”

Junior and special events co-coordinator Renisha Harris shared similar sentiments about the family-like support the group enjoys.

“We come together and make songs together. We do that by bouncing off of each others' strong suits and the different styles and techniques that everyone has,” she said.

In addition to pulling members together, the way Harmonyx arranges songs differs from other a cappella groups.

“A lot of other groups arrange using sheet music so it’s already written up, so I think it’s just something that differentiates us that we arrange by our ear,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson explained that section leaders meet and listen to songs repeatedly in order to determine what parts each section will sing.

“That’s really how we get these songs to be so original, so different than what you’ve heard from other organizations or what you’ve heard from the radio,” Harris said.  “Because you really have a set amount of people in one room and they’re allowed to let their imaginations flow.”

In terms of song choices, the group’s musical taste is as diverse as its members.

According to senior and director Tray Good, the Harmonyx started out singing jazz, golden oldies and spirituals, but have since expanded their repertoire.

“If its pop, if it’s rock, if it’s country, we’ll sing it,” Good said. “We sing anything.”

Rogers said despite the range of genres they sings, the group can add soul to any song and give it a Harmonyx twist.

“Our sound is definitely soulful, and just unique in general,” she said. “We have a lot of unique voices that come together and it still works.”

In addition to their soulful sound, the Harmonyx throw in some dance moves when they perform, the most notable being their signature move known as the “Harmonyx rock.” They also perform their larger concerts with a special twist — the members act out scenes like a play, with each scene leading into the next song. 

Nicholson revealed this year’s theme to be the popular television show “Scandal,” although she declined to reveal who would be playing leading lady Olivia Pope.

Besides their large concerts and Pit performances, the Harmonyx also delivers birthday grams. Nicholson said the group got the idea after creating an original arrangement of “Happy Birthday” to sing to her mom one summer.

Through their quirks and unique characteristics, the Harmonyx operates as a family, and makes a commitment to stick together. 

“I feel like its all kind of summed up in the name of our group,” Good said.

“We’re all very, very different, but at the same time we come together for our music because we want to make sure its enjoyable for every crowd and we want them to experience the fun that we have creating music and then sharing it with them.”

arts@dailytarheel.com

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