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Voices of Soul brings boogie to semester show

By Amalie Kwassman

Section: Arts

December 9, 2011

I walked into the Ridgewood A commons on a chilly December night to see a group of performers dressed in tank tops, shorts, dresses and flip flops. Voices of Soul was holding its annual concert, which it dubbed its “December Beach Party.” The group’s 13 members wore an assortment of beach attire and had arranged themselves into rows, with the women standing in the front and the men in the back. All the chairs were filled, with people standing along the walls and sitting on the tables, waiting for the concert to begin.

Josh Kahane ’12, wearing a red t-shirt and white shorts, played a harmonica intro before stepping to the center and starting off with TLC’s hit song “Waterfalls.” The rest of the group joined in, singing the chorus and harmony. In the middle of the song, Stephen Cadigan ’13, wearing shorts and flip-flops, started rapping, which elicited cheers from the crowd.

The next song was Justin Timberlake’s signature song “Cry Me a River.” This song was accompanied by a Justin Timberlake of our own, complete with falsetto and beat-boxing ability: Lucas Silva ’13.

This was followed by a rendition of Blu Cantrell’s classic “Hit ’Em Up Style.” The song focuses on a woman who catches her man cheating, so she is going to “pay the bills too late” and use his money to “go on a shopping spree.” At this point the microphone malfunctioned, but Danielle Pulton ’12 didn’t need the microphone for her loud voice. As she paraded around the front of the stage, shaking her finger and swishing her hips, the crowd cheered. The song’s sass was aided by her embodiment of a strong woman who would not be the victim when her “man went buckwild.”

Following Pulton came Stuart Davis ’12, decked out in American flag shorts and flip-flops. He wowed the crowd with a rendition of Ne-Yo’s “So Sick.” His voice was smooth and elegant, much like Ne-Yo’s own, suiting the song’s depiction of a man who is sick of hearing love songs because they remind him of the woman he lost.

Even before Emma McAffe-Hahn ’13 went to the front for her solo, the crowd starting cheering for her. Singing “Black & Gold,” McAffe-Hahn swayed back and forth in a blue dress, along with the chorus behind her.

After an intermission featuring chips, salsa, cookies and loud chatter, Stephanie Johnson ’13, who has been singing since “she was four-years-old,” took the stage. The entire crowd was transfixed by Johnson’s voice, as she made her way from one side of the floor to the other, her big voice heard in every corner of the room.

Other performances included a soulful rendition of Lauryn Hill’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” During the performance given by Geraldine Rothschild ’12, she played with the audience, pointing at different people in the audience for each repetition of the line “you’ll always be my baby.”

In the second-to-last performance, all the girls turned their sides to the audience and began snapping their fingers in tune to a rendition of “Valerie” given by Morgan Gross ’14.

The last song, which emphasized the importance of family and the fact that “love don’t have to change,” featured solos by both Johnson and Andrew O’Brien ’13. With the girls holding hands and the guys with their arms around each other, they seemed more like a family than a musical group.

This family feeling isn’t accidental. Johnson, for instance, has been with the group since her first year and personally recruited Davis to the group. Both Davis and Johnson remarked how much they love the “group dynamic” and “singing for the fun of it.” All the members of the group seemed to share this feeling of “family.” Silva, the beat-boxer who has been in the group for two-and-a-half years, credits his beat-boxing skills to the group. He learned beat-boxing while at Brandeis. He remarked that he loves the “way we sound when we are in sync,” going on to note that “when everything is right, we sound amazing.”

McAffe-Hahn, who, like Johnson, has been singing since she could talk, commented that this semester—her first with the group—was “great fun.” Kahane, meanwhile, was recruited to the group his first year through the encouragement and recruitment of a friend. Rothschild recruited Kahane because she “heard I could sing.” Although Kahane said he “doesn’t listen to this music at all,” he still loves the people and the “fun.” Rothschild, for her part, described the group as “a good break from studying and really relaxing.” She also encourages people to join, saying that the group is “for everyone” and that anyone can audition.

With their knack for wearing shorts and flip-flops in winter, this soulful group is as inviting as it is talented. This group has got more than just soul, they’ve got each other—they’ve got family.

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