Last weekend’s First Friday on the Dobbs University Center (DUC) Terrace featured performances from Emory’s six a cappella groups: AHANA A Cappella, Aural Pleasure, ChaiTunes, Dooley Noted, The Gathering and No Strings Attached. A highly anticipated event by all, many students and faculty gathered around the DUC’s awning for the performance, even flooding into makeshift seats on the DUC Terrace steps. The warm weather and informal setting made for a pleasant evening for all. For the event, each group showcased one or two songs that reflected their individual styles. The Gathering, an all-female group, did renditions of Alicia Keys’ “Karma” and Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move.” Clad in blue jeans and white shirts with brightly colored scarves, the group blended nicely together but at times overpowered the lead vocalists, College sophomore Lauren Frances Gandle and College freshman Skyy Campbell. While all the girls had pretty voices, they needed to listen to each other to create a more-well rounded sound.
ChaiTunes, Emory’s Jewish a cappella group, followed The Gathering and opened their portion of the show with Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Chain.” Dressed in red and orange outfits, the highlighted artists – College junior Katy Heath, College junior Becky Morris and College senior Rachel Minogue – all sang well but quietly, and the background vocals didn’t add much to the overall sound. Their second song, “Hafacta,” with solos by College junior Katie Fishbein and College freshman Molly Behan, was more upbeat and the performers possessed significantly more dynamism.
Third in line was Emory’s oldest co-ed a cappella group, Aural Pleasure. Wearing matching green and black tanks that said “I <3 Aural”, the group opened with VV Brown’s popular “Shark in the Water.” College junior Jovonna Jones was the soloist and, judging by the cheers that filled the space, definitely a crowd favorite. The group finished with Jordin Sparks’ and Chris Brown’s “No Air” sung by Jones once again, which also garnered a good reaction from the crowd.
Emory’s service-oriented group, Dooley Noted, mixed things up with their first ever whole-group solo, “Woods,” arranged by Timothy Harland (’13C). Each group member had his or her own solo because of the intricacies of the arrangement. College sophomore Ryan Croom, a longtime attendee of First Friday, thought the song was an interesting choice. “They definitely took a risk with their song selection, but I thought it sounded fantastic,” Croom said. The ensemble’s resonance was enjoyable and their vibrant outfits of red, orange, and yellow definitely caught the crowd’s attention.
No Strings Attached, Emory’s all-male a cappella group, featured an array of guys dressed in their own personal style choices. They started off strong with Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life” and Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind” and didn’t miss a single beat. Standout soloists included College senior Yedoye Travis, College senior Benito Thompson, College junior Fei Gao and College junior CJ Shepard, and the group’s backup vocals all helped create a full and rich sound.
Finishing off the event was AHANA A Cappella, known for their R&B focus. The group sang Boyz II Men’s “Thank You” and John Legend’s “It Don’t Have To Change” with soloists College senior Ben Ryu, College senior Donae Fourth, College junior Sammie Scott, College senior Andres Vega and College senior Shaheen Kurani. While their blue and black outfits looked professional, they lacked the confidence that some of the other groups displayed. They appeared to be unprepared and didn’t look entirely comfortable with the music. It was clear they aimed to deliver a spiritual sound, and perhaps with a little more practice, this can be achieved.
Overall, the event was a great success for taking place so early in the semester. “I loved going to First Friday and hearing all the a cappella groups,” College freshman Marisa Hann said. “My favorite group was probably No Strings Attached because their song selection was really great, and their voices were amazing.”
“I find that First Fridays get progressively better throughout the year. But I just think it’s really cool that Emory tradition allows the school’s a cappella groups to showcase their hard work,” Croom also said.
Emory’s next First Friday will be held on Nov. 1 on the DUC Terraces at 5:30 p.m. If this month’s performance was a good indication, arrive early – space fills up fast.
– By Liza Atillasoy