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A musical group at Missouri State University is preparing for an upcoming concert, and audition for a reality TV show, and the release of its sixth album. KSMU's Rebekah Clark has this feature on the group A Cub Bella.
It’s 9:45 on a Wednesday night on the campus of MSU.
All is quiet except for one building, Ellis Hall, home to the music department. The school’s only female a cappella group, A Cub Bella, is inside. This is designated rehearsal time, two nights a week.
[A Cub Bella: “She Wolf,” soloist: Kaylie Habighorst]
Their practice room is actually a small auditorium inside the front doors of Ellis Hall, which houses a large piano and ripe acoustics. Fifteen young women surround the piano, binders of sheet music in hand. They launch into their rendition of David Guetta’s “She Wolf,” singing without any instrumental accompaniment. Instead, the sound you hear comes solely from their voices, including any rhythmic beat. The piano is used for one thing only: giving the starting pitch.
A Cub Bella started more than a decade ago after a group of female music majors got together and composed their own vocal renditions of pop culture hits, like JoJo’s “Too Little Too Late” and Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.”
The group formation came on the front end of a worldwide a cappella craze that fans are still embracing today. The hit TV show “Glee” on FOX, which is based on a high school show choir group, had over six million people tune into last week’s episode. Last year, the movie Pitch Perfect, which tells the story of a college female a cappella group much like this one, has brought in over $65 million in gross domestic sales so far. And NBC is planning another season of the a cappella music reality show, The Sing Off.
Julie Ivanov, a member of the MSU group since 2011, says she’s noticed the rise in a cappella popularity.
“I think ever since Pitch Perfect came out, I had friends that I showed the movie to, they were like, ‘what’s this?’ And I’m like, ‘just wait, it’s really cool, we do this.’ And they’ll watch it and they’ll love it and it’s different to them.”
Before the movie or TV show, Ivanov says many of her friends weren't exposed to a cappella music before.
Lindsay Unick, A Cub Bella’s publicity director, has been a member of the group since last year.
“My favorite song of all time is actually one we just got, which we were singing in there, “Breath of Life.” I think that’s like the best we’ve ever sounded on a new song, so I can’t wait.”
This group is scheduled to perform for producers of NBC's The Sing Off this week to try to get a spot on the reality show, Unick says.
“We really want to make it in front of the judges. Obviously, there’s a lot of rounds before we can get there, so we just want to be able to make it there and at least impress Sara Bareilles and all of the top-name that are going to be sitting there. Hopefully, we can get in front of them and at least, if we don’t make it, at least get our name out to them.”
The group performs around the community and donates some of their concert proceeds to charities. They also perform for high schools and promote musical participation.
All of their songs are arranged by them, or by alumni of the school's a cappella groups.
The CD’s release concert will be on Saturday, May 11 at 7 p.m. in the Plaster Student Union on the MSU campus.
[A Cub Bella: “Wings,” soloists: Amira Aldewick, Claire Coulter, Briana Adams]
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.