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It takes a lot of practice and talent to make eight different voices blend perfectly in unison, but that was not a problem for Boston University’s all-girl a cappella group the BU Sweethearts. The Sweethearts visited WERS last year to support Live Music Week, and showed up again this year to sing during All A Cappella. During their warm-up, the Sweethearts were truly perfectionists. It was clear they wanted to deliver their best work to WERS listeners, and they spent their warm up time making sure their sound was flawless.
The Sweethearts’ first song was Nirvana’s infamous “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” While one might wonder how anyone could possibly turn a song that’s pure rock into an a cappella song, the BU Sweethearts easily made it their own. Soloist Jill Glynn’s deep, rich voice captured the song’s rock ‘n roll heart and mixed beautifully with the chorus of voices backing her up. The contrast between the pure, choral sound, the vocal interpretation of the song’s guitar line and Glynn’s solo created an almost haunting effect.
An important aspect often included in a cappella is beat boxing, the effect of making one’s voice imitate percussion. The BU Sweethearts’ beat boxer was Lisa Albano, who claimed she had only recently learned the art of beat boxing, although this wasn’t obvious at all. She provided a steady beat throughout “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” keeping the song on track. She explained that she learned to beat box specifically for the Sweethearts, and though she’s still new to it, “As you keep doing it, it only gets easier.”
The second and final song the Sweethearts sang was “White Blank Page” by Mumford and Sons. This song was an opportunity to show their ability to create a slower, more reflective sound. Emily Cunningham soloed, her voice pure and adding lots of emotion to the song. The song slowly escalated, and group stomped and clapped, commanding their listener’s attention. As they sang, a small crowd gathered outside the WERS window, and even a duck tour that was stopped at a red light all turned to watch. Even to those outside who couldn’t hear the music, the group’s energy was enthralling.
Coming from such a large school, The Sweethearts face a lot of competition. But they definitely stand out among the crowd. They explain, “BU probably has about ten to fifteen different groups, but I think what makes us different is we’re smaller, we’re all girls, and we like to incorporate an eclectic style when it comes to arranging, especially incorporating older techniques like barbershop, strong harmonies, and using different syllables to mimic instruments. We do a huge mixture of that, which I think really sets us apart.”
Fans of the BU Sweethearts can visit the Boston University campus to hear the group sing on December eighth at noon for the end of the semester concert. The group also performs around Boston in locations such as Newbury Street and Fanuiel Hall. For more information on when you can hear the Sweethearts sing, visit www.busweethearts.blog.com.