Jamboree Showcases A Capella Scene

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This semester’s Jamboree featured all six campus a capella groups, singing renditions of everything from current chart-toppers to classics from the sixteenth century. All of the material was quite good, and although the event was on the long side, it was a worthwhile distraction from studying during Reading Week.

The event was hosted by Essence of Soul, who gave brief and witty musical introductions to each group. Their intro for Grapevine was, of course, a variation on Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Grapevine’s overall performance was solid, though their first song, Can’t Hurry Love, arranged by Emily Sun ‘09, was by far the best of the set.

Mixed Company performed next, starting with a version of Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girls that managed to be far less obnoxious than the original. There was also a first-rate rendition of Dedicated to the One I Love, by the one popular band to ever mention Swarthmore, the Mammas and the Pappas.

Next up was Cantatrix, “Latin for ‘long and boring,’” according to David Stifler ‘08, a member. Despite his claims, it was a refreshing change from the standard a capella fare. Sing We And Chant It was a little too abstract for my tastes, if that’s an applicable word here, but Ave Maria was beautiful, while Fair Phyllis I Saw was a more active and enjoyable song.

Sixteen Feet gave their usual great performance in their usual lumberjack garb. The first song, La Complainte De La Butte, featured a playful French flair in the form of a beret on the soloist; the second was a good rendition of a song that always seems to lend itself particularly well to a capella, the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Can’t Stop. The Feet ended with an excellent performance of Ordinary People, with Yoshi Johnson ‘08 taking John Legend’s place.

Chaverim, which still keeps its old name despite the new international/world focus as opposed to Jewish, kept true to its name, which means “friends.” The members, which came from all three Tri-Co schools, wore colorful T-shirts with the word “friend” on it in various languages. Their first song, a German pop song called Ruf doch mal an, was active and fun as well as musically interesting. The other two were also good, though not quite up to the same level.

Hosts Essence of Soul closed out the night with a strong set, beginning with their trademark unrehearsed “circle song,” which was interesting to hear. Soul II Soul’s Back to Life followed, and then a rendition of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Upgrade You that was mostly good, though I was a little disappointed by Matthew Thomas’s rap. (Also, the use of an implement that looked suspiciously like an ASAP rape whistle was questionable for its violation of more than just the a capella theme.) In the final song, talented beatbox Charles Inniss ‘09 showed off that he also has a good singing voice in Stevie Wonder’s Love’s In Need of Love.

All in all, there was a lot of great material in the show, and very little that I didn’t enjoy at least a little. The one real complaint would be that it was a bit long.

The show will be running all week — all of Reading Week, that is, which means that tonight, Thursday night, is your last chance to catch it. Eight o’clock in Lang Concert Hall.


  1. Aww, way to crush an upcoming white rapper’s dreams…heh. And to think I hosted you once 🙂 Next time you’re sleeping on the floor…oh wait, you did.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Phoenix

Discover more from The Phoenix

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading