The Shirley Tempos, Elon University’s newest a cappella group, will perform their first fall concert Nov. 23 in Whitley Auditorium at 6 p.m. The all-female ensemble has been an official group since fall 2013 and held auditions in both spring and fall 2014.
The group, founded by current president junior Lexi Paul and senior Josie Sornson, began the process of becoming an organization last fall. Initially, the Office of Student Activities was unsure whether another a cappella group on campus was feasible.
Paul advocated that another a cappella group would be beneficial. She said that an all-female group would benefit the campus primarily because there were so many women interested in a cappella.
After completing the process of submitting bylaws and other requirements for official organizations, the group performed for the first time in the spring at Acapalooza, an a cappella concert held every year in Whitley Auditorium.
The group will be performing seven songs in their fall concert, which they have been working on since September. The group voted on all of the songs before selecting them.
Paul and the musical director, first-year Katie Shannon, are looking forward to showing off the talent and musical accomplishments of the Shirley Tempos. Both are particularly impressed with the development of the group in just three short months.
“Seven songs in three months is a huge achievement, especially for a new group,” Shannon said. “It’s been a huge challenge, and that required all of the girls to practice for many hours outside of our regular rehearsals using tracks online.”
As a new group, Paul and Shannon said one of the struggles they faced is producing a sound that is “blended.” This is a common issue for groups, especially those that are new and still adjusting to the various voices of the group.
“For some members, this is the first time they have ever been in an a cappella group, and adjusting to singing without a piano is also sometimes challenging for people,” Paul said. “It can be hard to not go flat or sharp or get off beat.”
Shannon recently had a special moment as she was leading the group. During a rehearsal, the group decided to rehearse in the hallway because of the better acoustics. While conducting, Shannon stopped and just listened. She said she got goosebumps because the group had come together as one voice.
“I teared up and just listened,” Shannon said. “That was one of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had. I will remember that for the rest of my life.”
Sornson said the Shirley Tempos have received significant support from other organizations on campus.
“The opportunities they have provided us with have really helped us to learn and grow through experience and really get our name out there to become more well-known on campus,” Sornson said.
She expressed how grateful she is to be a founding member and said she looks forward to watching the Shirley Tempos evolve over time.
“It’s really cool to know that I was a part of starting something that will last on this campus many years after I graduate,” she said.
The amount of time spent in rehearsals together contributes to the close relationships the singers have formed. The women are comfortable with each other and engage in dialogue surrounding musical preferences for their pieces.
Shannon described the bond of Shirley Tempos members and commented that each member is fully committed to the organization.
“I love this group of girls so much,” Shannon said. “They are all leaders in a different way and I’m so lucky to be spending six hours a week doing something I love with people I love and trust.”
Sornson agreed. She said she hopes the audience sees the passion of the Shirley Tempos and understands the work invested in the performance.
“The most rewarding part has been seeing all our hard work pay off and being able to bring these girls together to share our passion in one sound, “ Sornson said. “I’m truly blown away by the amount of talent on this campus.”