Colby College A Cappella: It’s Nothing but Treble!

If you are a fan of quality singing that is unhindered by instruments, you’re in luck here at Colby. Our tour guides proudly announce to prospective students that the college has eight a cappella groups who perform music ranging from contemporary rock to Christmas carols. These eight groups—the Blue Lights, Colby Eight, Colbyettes, EVE, Mayflower Chill, Mediocre, Megalomaniacs, and Sirens—each bring their own unique personalities and quirks to Colby’s music scene.

The Blue Lights—founded in 1994, is one of two all-male a cappella groups on campus. The group’s repertoire ranges from oldies to contemporary rock. Their philosophy is that incredible singing sounds best when combined with a fun performance. Shaw Speer ’18, one of the Blue Lights’ student advisors—explained that the group dresses up “in whatever weird, funky clothing we own for our concerts in order to make them entertaining, yet we are also really serious about our music.” The Blue Lights is the quintessential example of that saying that’s often used to describe Colby: work hard, play hard. In addition to practicing and performing, the members of the Blue Lights are a close-knit community. In fact, the group holds alumni reunions every five years to sing and hang out together.

The Colby Eight— an all-male and Colby’s first a cappella group—mostly performs traditional barbershop music and arrangements of contemporary music. Christman Henderer ’18, the student advisor for the Colby Eight, explained that what makes the group unique are their joint concerts with other colleges all over the New England area, including Connecticut College, Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire, and Tufts University. When the Colby Eight is not traveling, they hold concerts with visiting a cappella groups from other colleges. Also, they often sing for Colby events like trustee meetings and sports games, as well as for events in the Waterville community. Henderer said that the first three words that come to mind when he thinks about the Colby Eight are drive, focus, and talent. He went on to explain that“in our rehearsal time our focus is entirely focused on productivity and the meeting of deadlines.”

In addition to all-male groups, Colby also has all-female groups. The Colbyettes are Colby’s oldest all-female group. They were founded in 1951 and sing a variety of music ranging from oldies to pop to jazz. The group arranges almost all their music themselves. They practice three times a week in Bixler and have a faculty advisor, Colby’s director of campus events Karen R. Farrar Ledger. The “ettes” perform a concert for the Colby community at the end of each semester.

The second of the three all-female a cappella groups on campus is EVE, which stands for everything vocal ensemble. The group has an eclectic repertoire, which includes Christmas carols, pop hits, 80s rock and roll, and even songs in other languages. The group performs samplers throughout the school year and they have a concert at the end of each season.

Colby’s final all-female a capella group is the Sirens. The group describes their sound as a “female pop anthem with a dash of Imogen Heap.” The group always includes Beyoncé on the set list and loves to sing power ballads. The group’s favorite activities are singing, dressing weirdly, and eating brie.

Mayflower Chill—a co-ed a cappella group—is aptly named. The group self-identifies as “Colby’s freshest co-ed a cappella group.” Ava Baker ’18, the student advisor for the group, explained that “we like to push boundaries in our musicality. At the end of the day, the members really just aim to have fun and make good tunes together, but in doing so we strive to be a little different from the other groups.” Although the group was founded with strong roots in R&B, Mayflower Chill has more recently embraced songs with drops and electronic dance music influences. This year, Mayflower Chill is performing songs from the Beatles, Khalid, Fleetwood Mac, Snakeships, Leon Bridges, and more.

The Megalomaniacs describe themselves as “Colby’s coed-est a cappella group.” In addition, it is Colby’s oldest coed a cappella group. The Megalomaniacs’ repertoire includes contemporary hits, jazz, country, and barbershop tunes. The group, founded in Jan. 1996, derived their name from the psychological phenomenon “megalomania,” which means an obsession with the exercise of power.

Colby’s final a cappella group is distinct from the other seven. Mediocre is a group for people that love to sing and have fun, but are not as musically gifted. Tomotaka Cho ’18, the student advisor of Mediocre, explained the groups  average singing abilities distinguishes Mediocre from the other a cappella groups on campus. “Next semester, we are changing it up and opening up Mediocre to anyone in the Colby community,” Cho said, “this will create an entirely inclusive community filled with passionate singers and excitement.”

Its time to get out there on campus and attend a concert or go to a sampler. If you’re really daring, join one!