On Sunday, POCappella, an a cappella group for students of color, showcased the group’s talent with a performance of songs written exclusively by artists of color.
As 6 p.m. rolled around, Brandi Recital Hall filled with students, faculty and family members excited to listen to Kenyon’s newest a cappella group. Students intended to form the organization in 2019, but it had to be put on hold because of the pandemic. Since the last school year, POCappella’s members have been practicing, arranging and performing songs for their group in a celebration of diverse artists.
One of the first songs they performed was an arrangement of “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King, which is widely beloved for its timeless message of love and compassion. The group did a great job highlighting Kate Ceniza-Levine’s ’23 lead vocals while providing a blend of harmonies in the background.
POCappella performed songs from a wide array of genres and time periods, including newer songs like “Slow Dancing in the Dark” by Joji. The song was released in 2018 and rose to popularity through social media platforms like TikTok. It is a strenuous combination of rapping and singing, but the group took the challenge in stride, artfully combining the melodic notes and breathwork with the fast-paced lyrics.
The singers’ process for picking the songs they perform is a collaborative effort. The members list songs that they would be interested in working on, and everyone listens to them and votes on which ones they like best. All of the songs performed were arranged by current or former group members, and featured the wonderful vocal ranges of the performers. From bass to soprano, every soloist and member was able to be highlighted for their talent.
Songs like “Magnolia” by Laufey and “Top Of My Love” by Joy Denalane were light and airy, featuring soloists Madi Hamilton ’23 and Stephanie Kaufman ’23 who used riffs to add to the beautiful mood. Kaufman, the soloist of “Top Of My Love,” took the stage with confident poise and sang the jazzy style with power behind her voice.
The concert ended on a fun note with the song “Forget You” by CeeLo Green, which gave many members of the group the opportunity to perform quick solos. The performance emphasized the community and support that all members of POCappella have for one another. The audience had an upbeat energy as they laughed and clapped along to the singing.
As the school year comes to a close, the POCappella concert was a refreshing way to showcase the talent of Kenyon’s students and various artists of color. “POCappella was my last a cappella concert of my Kenyon career…it’s definitely bittersweet, but POCappella is a group that I’m really excited to see where they go from here,” Kaufman said.