Better Than the Rest

By Kayla Kurmaskie

Standing in a uniform semi-circle, the five members of the vocal ensemble “Lookin’ Sharp” are poised and ready to sing. At choir director Kearby Ethredge’s cue, the girls begin to sing. With a mixture of doo-wops and hums where the singers work together to create the back-ups for the a cappella singing group. The premiere year of “Lookin’ Sharp” got off to a bumpy start, it has blossomed into a class that allows the young singers to expand their musical tastes and vocal abilities.

“Since the beginning of this school’s choir, we’ve always wanted to have an ensemble where we could sing pop songs and ballads,” junior Brianna Soltis said. “where it’s not a whole bunch of people; it’s just vocalizing the few and the talented.”

The lure of a smaller more focused vocal class was only part of the motivation to start the class. In recent years, a cappella singing groups have gotten more attention in the mainstream with the popularity of the movie “Pitch Perfect” and the YouTube sensation Pentatonix. Senior Addie Seale said that this popularity launched the idea of an ensemble vocal group.

Of course, the girls say that the process of making the group harmonious has been has not been an easy one.

“[The voices] definitely have to blend more,” Brianna Soltis said. “We all have different voices. When it’s a cappella, you have to find the right tone and the right shape of your voice, and you also can’t mess up.”

This pressure for perfection has been intimidating as well as motivational for the singers.

“In choir when you’re in a section, you have like ten, fifteen other people. If you take a breath when you’re not supposed to, you can’t hear it,” junior Sarah Neely said. “You have to know your parts. You can’t rely on other people. You have to be more confident.”

Finding confidence as a vocalist is one of the many reasons the girls decided to sign up for the class at the end of last year.

“I was really excited about being in a class that was smaller and focuses more on our individual work and work as a single artist,” senior Christina Manning said.

The class has acted as a bonding experience for all five singers. Without the magnitude of people that usually inhabit the choir room, the girls have been forced to go outside their normal social circle to become one unified voice.

Though the year is far from over, the members of “Lookin Sharp” have a number of goals in mind for the rest of the school year and beyond.

“The ultimate goal is to be a student led group, perhaps even creating their own arrangements,” Etheredge said. “Also we hope to have more opportunities to perform for the community, as well as participate in vocal workshops with other a cappella groups.”