Feeling the Rhythm: an Insight into Blue Harmony Auditions

Kathryn Coffey, Writer

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On September 1, 2016, I was among the twenty students–an expected amount of students–who auditioned for Millikin’s female a cappella choir, Blue Harmony. Students of all levels were welcome to audition.

The audition marks three years since the creation of the group by junior Kendall Kott and former-Millikin student Stephanie Yancey. Kott had always been fascinated with the idea of an a cappella choir ever since she was in high school. “In deciding between [University of Illinois in Champagne and here], I wanted to be in an a cappella group no matter what school I decided to go to,” Kott said. “I never had that kind of opportunity in high school, so when I learned that there was no a cappella group on this campus when I was auditioning for the school choirs, that became my goal while I’m studying here.”

With that sort of mindset, auditions can be seen as a turning of a new leaf, or the formation of a cauldron, of what worked the previous years. Kott says that she plans to stay as involved in the community as they were the year before. Plans for next year include the upcoming Fall Family weekend choral concert, caroling around nursing facilities around Christmas time and a possible week-long tour around schools either in St. Louis or Chicago. “I felt like we improved how much we were involved with the community last year,” Kott said. “It is an aspiration that I hope we continue for this year.”

How would I describe the experience of that audition night? Well, if you auditioned or tried out for anything, you might be familiar with the sudden burst of adrenaline that shakes you to your core. It can be easily identified by trembling legs, light-headedness, and/or panicky facial expressions. Other certain aspects involve circumstances such as hearing other people audition before you have to do it.

The shaky sensation in my legs was normal, and there were other girls who sang before I did, and they all sounded amazing. All the girls sang pop songs from the past few years or so; it was a requirement for the audition. Their repertoire of songs included country, jazz, musical theatre, but they mainly stuck to pop songs. I sang “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, which is a pop song even if it was popular around the Disco years of the seventies. I have always been comfortable with being in a stage environment, but all the same, I kept thinking that it did not make me better at performing than any other person auditioning.

Standing before people you barely know and singing one minute of a pop song a cappella could be a scary experience for some people. Sure, the before-mentioned state of adrenaline is still there, but singing the song with no accompaniment whatsoever makes the sensation all the more thrilling or terrifying (depending on how you look at it, of course).

What was even more surprising was the fact that no one I knew ever really heard of Blue Harmony. When asked if it was surprising to her, Kott talked about how this aspect leaves her a little surprised, but not as surprised. She also said that Blue Harmony has also been working on improving their use of social media. Kott enforced this idea by stating, “If people do not see us [performing live], then they could at least know our name.”

The night of auditions concluded with a word that people would know if they got accepted into the group via email later in the week. I did not care if I got in; all I knew for sure was that it was over, and that left me feeling very satisfied indeed.

As a final epitaph to this story, on late Sunday night I received an email from Kendal Kott. I ended up being one of the twelve students that got accepted into the group. Needless to say, I am looking forward to everything that the group is doing in their future endeavors.