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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

Ladies come 1st in this a cappella group

It's a Thursday night, and eight women gather in a room gossiping about boys, school and their weekend plans. They wait for a few other friends to arrive. This could be any typical group of college girls, but what makes them different are their voices.\nLadies First is the only women's a cappella group at IU. Formed in 1999, they perform popular songs without instrumental accompaniment. Sponsored by the IU Alumni Association, Ladies First performs around Indiana as alumni representatives. They also compete in national a cappella competitions.\nLadies First has four two-hour rehearsals each week. On this particular night, the chatting ends as the clock hits seven. Director, senior Nora Colwell, silences the group and runs over plans for a Saturday fundraiser event in Brown County.\nAfter the brief discussion, the women begin practicing the songs they plan to sing for the fundraiser. These songs include popular ones such as "Falling" by Alicia Keys and "Seasons of Love" from the musical "Rent." Each number features a different soloist while the other members sing backup.\n"We are a group devoted to contemporary a cappella singing," Colwell said. "We do a lot of songs that other female groups wouldn't touch."\nLadies First also competes against other female a cappella groups each year in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. It consists of four competitions. This year, Ladies First won first place in the quarterfinals and they will compete in the semifinals March 9 at the University of Illinois.\nIn addition to their competitions, Ladies First has other achievements to be proud of. They have a CD out that features their a cappella singing. The CD, Ticket to Anywhere, has been nominated for four contemporary a cappella recording awards, including a nomination for best female collegiate album. The awards will be announced April 1.\nColwell said she is happy with the nominations and the group's hard work.\n"I'm really proud of our latest album, Ticket to Anywhere," she said.\nThe album is available through the Alumni Association Web site and is also sold at performances.\nLadies First is also included on a compilation CD, Best of College A Cappella (2002). BOCA is an annual album that features the top college recordings of each year. Ladies First's version of the Destiny's Child song "Independent Women" is on the album.\nWhile Ladies First sings popular covers, the group arranges all the songs themselves. Colwell said each member plays an integral part of the group.\nSophomore Kelli Grant is a first year member in the group. Grant sang in high school and at first wanted to become a music major, but decided to go into journalism. Despite her major, she said, she wants to continue singing in college.\n"I'd rather just sing, rather than learn to sing," she said.\nGrant first heard the group perform at Culture Fest her freshman year. She said she enjoyed listening to the group and decided to audition.\n"There were only four spots open, but I auditioned and made it," Grant said.\nSenior Mickey Seidenstein, member of the male a cappella singing group Straight No Chaser, has seen many Ladies First performances. He said he knows the women well.\n"The girls in Ladies First have a work ethic that is something to truly be proud of," Seidenstein said. "They deserve all of the successes they have accumulated lately and over the last few years." \nLadies First will have auditions March 25 and 26 for next year's group. Any woman interested in singing is encouraged to try out. She should prepare one song, preferably pop, that shows off her solo voice. An accompanist will be provided. The location is to be announced. Interested women can contact Ladies First at IUladies@indiana.edu.

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