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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Starting out on the right note: Mar-Keys compete for first time

The Mar-Keys is one of Lafayette’s all-voices a capella groups. (Photo courtesy of Alex Thurtle ’24)

This past weekend, the Mar-Keys, one of Lafayette’s a cappella groups, took the stage for its first-ever competition at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCAs).

Mar-Keys president Alex Thurtle ’24 was determined to have the group perform at the ICCAs despite never having competed before. After submitting an audition video in October, the Mar-Keys learned in November that they would be competing at the ICCAs for the first time.

“We’ve been wanting to do [the ICCAs] for a couple of years, but this was the first year that I was president and I made sure everything got submitted. And we got to perform, which was amazing,” Thurtle said.

On the day of the performance, the Mar-Keys had to adjust to the new technologies used at the ICCAs, such as an octave mic for the bass and crowded into a bathroom to rehearse.

“The soundcheck put things into perspective. And we’re like, ‘Oh, we’re not blending as we usually blend,’ and it was just hard to kind of start using the technology also with the nerves involved,” soloist Cia Negron ‘23 said. “It was a little tense, but I think we needed it to get into the headspace.”

The set included performances of “Say It” by Maggie Rogers, “Out of Time” by The Weeknd and a medley consisting of “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson and “Forget You” by CeeLo Green.

Negron and Shreya Suresh ’25 performed solos during “Say It.”

“My solo opened the show, which was very nerve-wracking. It was our first time in the ICCAs, and it was my first time competing with my a capella group or in a capella in general,” Negron said.

Despite her nerves, Negron is proud of her performance and her fellow Mar-Keys.

“Overall, I think the performance went really well, and I’m happy for us doing our first performance just because all of us were really, really nervous,” Negron said. “So I’m glad that we just got over it and we had a good time.”

Suresh found “Say It” to be a difficult song to perform due to her vocal range, but persevered.

“The judges were very impressed by our solos, but for ‘Say It,’ it’s more toned down. I honestly don’t love that song because it’s in an uncomfortable place in my voice,” Suresh said.

Kelsie Bouyer ’26 performed a solo during “Out of Time” and received specific praise from the judges.

“Instead of taking the song in the octave it normally was, [I] pushed a portion of it down the octave. So I was more in my lower range,” Bouyer said. “And one of the judges said that my low notes were like butter, which absolutely astounded me because I didn’t think that was gonna work out as well as it did, I guess. So that was very surprising, but I was so happy with it.”

Mar-Keys music conductor Matthew White ’23 also performed a solo during “Out of Time” and learned more about conducting during performances.

“It’s helpful to have a designated person to indicate tempo somehow, even if it’s more subtle,” White said. “I’m just dancing to the beat, and the judges didn’t like that during the performance.”

Mar-Key Liam Thompson ’24 wants to actively choreograph next year, which he believes will be an asset if the Mar-Keys compete in ICCAs next spring.

“I think I have some ideas and some visions of what might be cool. Now seeing a lot of the other groups’ choreo[graphy] that the judges really like I think is also very useful going into creating a new set,” Thompson said.

Despite not winning any awards at the ICCAs, Thurtle and the other Mar-Keys are proud of what they’ve accomplished.

“I absolutely love them all. They’re so incredibly talented. And they ate it up, they killed it,” Thurtle said. “I’m so incredibly proud of everyone, and I think we really did our best.”

Thompson hopes to bring a more competitive spirit to the group if they compete again next spring.

“I think the songs we did this year were great, and I thought that was a good set. But I hope to do more challenging music next year because I think we have a group that can handle it,” Thompson said.

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Kristen Vincent, Assistant Culture Editor

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