The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday January 17th

Pit Talk

Founding Clef Hangers come home

Tom Terrell was one of the founding members to first don the now famous Clef Hangers’ bow tie, vest and the very first button.

35 years later he still has that button, and he’s back to emcee the Clefs’ spring concert this Saturday night in Carmichael Arena.

This will be the first time that a student group has ever preformed in Carmichael.

Daniel Potter, the current president of the Clefs, said it is an honor to get to preform in such a historic building.

“We’re very excited for this opportunity, and we know that it’s the result of a lot of hard work,” he said.

Barry Saunders founded the group in 1977. He said while there were other music groups on campus, there weren’t any a cappella groups.

So with a stack of old arrangements from Yale’s a cappella group, the Alley Cats, he set out to do what he called “drum something up.”

Terrell said Saunders approached him and asked if he wanted to join.

“That moment when Barry bumped into me was one of those wonderful accidents that changed my life,” Terrell said.

“We didn’t know who we were or exactly what we were doing, but we agreed to follow Barry.”

Terrell said when they were first starting out, they had to create their own audiences.

“We would run into one of the girls’ dormitories after hours and sing, and they would come running down the halls,” he said.

Saunders said one difference in the Clefs today is the level of talent and commitment.

“We had some terrific musicians, but some of us were more enthusiastic than gifted — I’ll include myself in that,” he said.

“We were a little more ragtag.”

Terrell said another key change for the group occurred when they began arranging their own music and adding vocal percussion.

“They then started attracting singers who are outstanding pop soloists who could sing with any band on the radio,” he said.

“They have become much more disciplined, hard working, serious about the music.”

Terrell said he had no idea of what they would have become all these years later.

“There was this magic point in the late 80’s when I was back for a Clef concert at Memorial Hall,” he said.

“It was sold out, and somebody was out there scalping a ticket — it blew me away.”

Porter said he is most looking forward to carrying out the Clef’s tradition of preforming songs picked by the seniors at the concert.

“It really gives insight into the brotherhood of the Clefs, into who we are and why we do what we do,” he said.

Porter said he loves being part of this Carolina legacy.

“It’s humbling because so many people paved the way for you, but that you can improve and grow the influence and leave the group better than you’ve found it,” he said.

“We try to be the next step in the evolution of the group.”

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