On March 19, the all-female group Soulstice A Cappella raised a toast to the 25th anniversary of its 1998 founding. Founder Jessica Green and the squad of seventeen girls came together to perform a concert like never before, inviting alumni from past years and celebrating the last concert of the 2022–23 school year.

Soulstice President Harper Mugford, a senior double majoring in professional and technical writing and English, emphasized the unforgettable time she had, making this day the most special part of her last time singing with Soulstice.

“We invited all of the alumni and we started planning the concert about 11 months ago during last April,” Mugford said. “It was a very long process and I have to give credit to Sydney Johnson who was definitely the creative eye, and the visionary behind all of it because she knew she wanted to make the anniversary a really big deal — not only for us, but for the alumni.”

Mugford highlighted that Johnson worked for months collecting names, emails and contact information. In addition, she tracked down the founder of the organization and met over Zoom in order to start planning the anniversary.

The concert was especially memorable, Mugford said, because it was fully dedicated to honoring all that Soulstice has given to the current singers and past members. Additionally, being a senior, she recognizes the time she has had during the past four years with the group and the importance of performing a show to cherish the lives that Soulstice has touched.

Typically, Soulstice creates a setlist which includes three past or present songs. However, in honor of this performance the group did some digging and was able to get in contact with alumni in an effort to gather songs that former members had sung that had meant a lot to them.

“We chose what songs that would fit our style the best and which ones that would go well with the group,” Mugford said. “We ended up doing an opening alumni song, we had three other alumni songs during the concert, and then our closing was our official alumni song because we invited all of the past members on stage to sing with us.”

The senior also said one of her most treasured songs that was performed called “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child.

“I sang that song freshman year and it was one of the first songs I learned, which was also one of our alumni songs that we brought back,” Mugford said. “It was really fun to see what things have changed within the song and then we also had our old soloist joining us on stage half way through the song. It was just really nice to see her sing with our new girls and other current members, and seeing the song really coming full circle.”

Mugford explained the distinctiveness of the weekend and how special it meant to her that she shared her last concert with members from years before. She said that the night before the concert, Soulstice had a toast with the alumni to welcome them all back to Blacksburg and get to know them more personally before the performance.

Mugford also added that performing at Moss Arts Center was a rare occasion because normally they hold concerts at either the Lyric Theatre or the Haymarket Theatre.

Another part of the concert that resonated with Mugford was the senior speech — she mentioned that a primary reason she wanted to become president was because of how much the older girls inspired her. She noted that being a senior this year has given her the same opportunity to be a leader for the younger girls.

“Since I am a senior this year, I was presented with a basket and got a brief speech from my friend, Megan (Buss),” Mugford said. “For years, I have watched those senior speeches being given and it was really nice to finally be the one up there and definitely crazy to think about. Megan shared how much I inspired her just how I wanted to, which was just such a special moment for me to share with her and everyone else.”

Mugford played a significant role throughout her time in Soulstice, explaining that she didn’t know what to expect auditioning as a freshman but wanted to have the same creative outlet she has had since she was eight years old when she first began singing. After her first semester in Soulstice, she became concert director and officially became president during her senior year. Mugford highlighted the impact that Soulstice has had on her college career and encouraged others to join for the same reasons.

Additionally, Mugford described how significant the a cappella community is because of the variety of personalities and the ability for the group to make such a large school seem small.

“We make jokes, we have socials and hangouts and it has given me really unique friendships,” Mugford said. “It’s not like a sorority at all where everyone basically has a lot in common, besides the fact that we all love to sing. It's special because I hangout with people that I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with if I never joined.”

Mugford also mentioned the variety of the a cappella community here at Tech, mentioning that there are two all-female groups, two all-male groups and two co-ed organizations. She stressed that With Soulstice being such a small group, there is so much room for leadership that can help with so much growth.

“When I was a little freshman I was terrified of everyone, but being in a small group that is such a supportive community has helped me so much to become who I am today and I’ll definitely maintain and continue growing on the skills that Soulstice has ingrained in me,” Mugford said. “I would definitely encourage people to audition for Soulstice to join a fun group of girls who love music.”

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