“Sway”, “I won’t give up”, “Shenandoah”, “Anthem”, “Harry”, “ForGood” and “L.O.V.E.”: on the 17th of September, The Sweet Tones, one of the music-oriented tap-clubs of Sweet Briar College, finally revealed the list of its Fall 2012 babies, named after songs. This is a tradition, and this event celebrates the beginning of a year devoted to new challenges for the singing group.
The Sweet Tones is one of the tap-clubs of Sweet Briar College, in Virginia. Their members revisit songs from all generations and interpret them a-capella during public representations. Each year, and sometimes twice a year, new members are recruited to keep the singing group diverse and vocally rich. “I don’t think we had a single person this year who couldn’t have been worked with us,” said Catherine “Crazy” Ramos, the president of The Sweet Tones since late August. And yet, they made their choice.
On the 17th of September, around 10 pm, all the college could hear The Sweet Tones voices through the dorms of the lucky girls who had been “tapped”, which means chosen. The next morning, the names of the newly tapped members were displayed on a huge sheet which was covering Prothro’s windows. Ally “Anthem” Booth, Katherine “Shenendoah” Brown, Emma “Harry” Kiely, Abby “I won’t give up” Knaycar, Djahane “Sway” Paienda, Haley “ForGood” Reeves and Miranda “L.O.V.E.” Tyler are the survivors from the two-week Fall 2012 selection. According to Brittany “All My Loving” Griffith, they will make up for the loss of the graduated ex-members and fill the group with a “new energy”. She remembers how joining The Sweet Tones changed her conception of college life: “It’s easy to meet a lot of people you wouldn’t have necessarily hung out with and that goes for all tap club on the campus. But specifically that, because you have this one connection to music and I feel that music is something that you can really connect with people over different cultures.”
“Sway” Paienda wanted to join them desperately: “I’m passionate about music. I’ve been singing for a long time and I wanted to sing with other people current music and to have a different approach. I’ve never sung a-capella music with several people. ”
This year, 48 students signed up for the auditions, 42 came and sang in front of the members and 14 impressed them enough to be a part of the call-back session. The group was looking for “somebody who fits well with the group, who loves music and then, on top of that, somebody who has got a musical talent,” said “Crazy” Ramos. How can someone make a difference? For “All My Loving” Griffith, preparation is key: “Just picking a song on a day isn’t the best thing to do. But if you have a song that you really love and that you can sing any day in the car, in the shower, wherever you are, just blast it out, go for it! Do that in an audition because a lot of it is personality and owning it.” But the candidates may not have the opportunity to put this advice in practice for a long time: the president announced that there won’t be any auditions next Spring, unlike last year when girls were tapped twice.
As of now, The Sweet Tones are going to focus on their new projects. First of all, the 18 voices want to diversify their songbook by singing more top-40 songs and emphasizing the beat-boxing in their a-capella performances. But the two main surprises of this year are the creation of their website and the launch of a service of singing telegrams. “We are going to start offering that for 5 to 7 dollars, maybe 10 dollars, depending on what you want us to do… And just have that offer to students on campus and to the faculty on campus,” explains “Crazy” Ramos. As their objective is to increase their visibility, Sweet Briar College better be ready to hear more and more from this new generation of music junkies.