Vocal Intensity

The story of Kent’s newest singing group

According to Kent State University’s official website, there are currently over 350 student organizations on campus, and the number grows every day. Among them are three groups which specialize in a cappella, a style of music in which singers make music without the accompaniment of any instruments.

Vocal Intensity President Kathryn Slusher welcomes the crowd on December 1.

For many years the style was unpopular in the United States, seeing only minimal success. Recently, however, there has been a sort of a cappella Renaissance. Contemporary groups have reached mainstream success, including Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser. The RARB (Recorded A Cappella Review Board) has reviewed thousands of a cappella records since 1994. The a cappella craze has spread to Kent, too, which boasts three groups, including newcomer Vocal Intensity.

On December 1, Vocal Intensity took to the stage with both other groups, Flash Harmony and the Kent Clarks. The Kent Clarks are the most famous of the three, having preformed at the White House in December last year.

The Kent Clarks preforming “Death of a Bachelor” at the concert.

This concert is a milestone for the group, as it marks the first time that Vocal Intensity has hosted a concert with other groups in attendance. It was held in Bowman Hall and was free for all to attend. The atmosphere was informal, with leaders of each group addressing the audience to let them know concert times and names of members. Between songs, Vocal Intensity members introduced themselves, saying their names and a bit about themselves.

Vocal Intensity belting out a tune during their concert.

The choirs sang a variety of songs, from contemporary pop, to classic staples, and rounded out the event with a Christmas song. Highlights from the event include Panic! At The Disco’s hit song “Death of a Bachelor” and “I Want it That Way” by The Backstreet Boys. Before the boy band hit, however, there was an emotional send off by Vocal Intensity of their senior member Sarah Gelpern, who is a deaf education major and will be leaving the group next semester to pursue an internship in her native Long Island, New York. Vocal Intensity President Kathryn Slusher presented her with flowers and a warm embrace.

Slusher gives senior member Sarah Gelpern a hug to wish her well in New York.

According to the group’s Facebook page, Vocal Intensity was founded on September 25, 2015, making it a little over than a year old at the time of the concert. In one year, the group has grown quite a bit. Right now they sit at about a dozen members, but as Jon Natola said in our interview, there are some members who took a semester off from the group due to studying abroad or conflicting committments. He continued, though, by describing Vocal Intensity as energetic, kind, and most importantly, a family.

Danny Murphy smiles while describing his time in Vocal Intensity.

Danny Murphy, one of the two beatboxers for the group, said being the group has made him happier as a person. He's been encouraged to branch out from being just the beatboxer to being given parts in upcoming songs. He too spoke lovingly about the group and his relationship with its members. Murphy confessed to having reservations about auditioning this semester, but said he quickly overcame his hesitations when he realized how closely-knit the group is, saying he “fell in love with the people.”

Watch the video for the full story.

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