Newest a cappella groups start off Tulane tenure on high note

TU Tones, Tulane’s newest a cappella group, was founded on campus in September.

Cam Lutz, Staff Reporter [email protected]

Tulane University’s a cappella groups, from indie-cool THEM to prestigious and aptly named Green Envy, for many years have encapsulated students’ musical talents and contributed to the innovative and artistic culture of the university. Recently, however, two new a cappella groups — TU Tones and NJBeats — have made their appearances on Tulane’s music scene.

Both TU Tones and NJBeats performed at the Family Weekend A Capella Concert in McAlister Auditorium, and the following weekend, the groups performed again in the Celebrate Mental Health Festival. Despite their fledgling status, both were well-received by the audience and are quickly gaining recognition on campus.

TU Tones was founded in early September by sophomore CeCe Alder. She was inspired by the talent of her peers, many of whom lacked an adequate outlet for their musical abilities.

“We have so much talent here at Tulane, and the a cappella community is so fun and vibrant, and there are a lot of people who never get the opportunity to engage in it, so I wanted to create more opportunities for those people,” President Alder said.

In addition to the Celebrate Mental Health Festival and the Family Weekend A Capella Concert, TU Tones has performed twice at The Goldie & Morris Mintz Center for Jewish Life. The group’s favorite song to perform is “Hold Up,” by Beyoncé, which it was able to perform at the Homecoming Concert along with “Bravado” by Lorde and “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart.

Alder has high hopes for the continued success and growth of the a cappella group.

“Before I go abroad next fall and leave it in the hands of the younger members, I would like to have us in a position where we’re recognized on campus and where we have a solid repertoire of songs, and where we’ve really built our musicianship and just become a solid group in general,” Alder said.

Those with an interest in Jewish music may be drawn to NJBeats, which was unofficially founded last December by sophomore Jordan Lawrence. The group first performed at the Celebrate Mental Health Festival last April. The first auditions, however, were in mid-October of this year, after the organization gained provisional status.

“We tried applying… to become an organization last year,” Founder, President and Musical Director Lawrence said. “But something was wrong [with the application], so then it had to be redone during the summer, so we ended up not being able to get the status until September or so.”

As a result of the late auditions, the group almost missed performing at Hillel’s Aca-Shabbat in October. The group decided it needed to establish a presence on campus, and ultimately the group was able to perform “Shema Yisrael,” a common Jewish prayer from the Torah, at the event. A couple weeks later, at this semester’s Celebrate Mental Health Festival, the group performed “Lu Yehi,” a Hebrew mashup of The Beatles’ “Let It Be.” The tune begins with the popular ’70s song, but adds Hebrew lyrics in the form of a prayer, asking God to grant “all that we seek.” 

The Hebrew lyrics and traditional Jewish basis of NJBeats’ songs provide a refreshing twist to a cappella music. The group, however, does not limit itself to only slow, traditional songs. NJBeats plans to sing pop songs with a unique Hebrew twist in future performances. With its recent performances and plan to include more pop music, the group is becoming more fully engrained in Tulane’s culture.

“We’re just very excited that we’re finally on campus,” Lawrence said. “It’s really extremely the dream come true for me. I mean … I’m so happy to be making my mark on Tulane’s campus and [on] the musical and Jewish community here.”

Auditions for both NJBeats and TU Tones will be next fall.

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