Don’t be fooled by the name Naturally Sharp, as the title has more to do with the group’s fashion sense than its music’s pitch.
“Our naturally sharp dressing (makes us different),” said group member Zach Daly, a senior aerospace engineering major.
The all-male acappella group believes its uniforms differentiate it from others on campus — during performances, group members wear maroon bow ties with orange polka dots or orange ties, along with maroon blazers, adding extra flare to their ensembles.
But fashion isn’t the only factor the group prides itself on.
“I think the genres of music we do sticks us out from the other groups,” Daly said.
The group sings songs ranging from “Stu’s Song” from the film “The Hangover,” “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn, and “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” by John Mayer.
Members of the Fiji fraternity founded the group in 2002, said Brandon Ruhe, assistant director of Naturally Sharp.
Ruhe — a senior marketing management major — is one of 16 members in the all-male group, which is entirely student-run. The music the group performs is also student-arranged.
Each semester, Naturally Sharp performs a showcase concert. This spring’s concert is called “Behind the Music: Sex, Drugs and Acappella” and will be held on April 13 at 7 p.m. in the Graduate Life Center auditorium.
The money the group raises from the concert — as well as money from dues and a small university grant — funds its performance uniforms, trips to competitions and other activities.
The group travelled to the Rock in the Forest acappella competition in spring 2011 at Wake Forest University — Ruhe cited the competition as his favorite memory with the group. At Rock in the Forest, Ruhe said there were six to eight groups in attendance that performed and socialized.
Naturally Sharp also participates in local concerts, which feature other acappella groups, including the Relay for Life concert and Acafestapella.
Compared to the other acappella groups at Tech, Ruhe said Naturally Sharp stands out because it performs both fun and serious songs.
“We have a lot of fun with every song we do. We try to incorporate a little choreography, and we just try to have fun with it and make people laugh,” Ruhe said. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, even though we are a serious group. There’s still that humility factor.”
Naturally Sharp host’s auditions in the fall and spring semesters, although Ruhe said the group usually gains more members in the fall.
“You come in with a prepared piece, and you sing just a verse or a chorus of the song,” Ruhe said. “Then we’ll test your range, and if we like you, we’ll call you back … and teach you parts of a song and throw you into the group and see how you sound.”
After clearing auditions and being accepted into the group, new members start attending practices — the group usually has three two-hour practices a week.
Ruhe — who first got his start in music while he was in his high school choir — said he has been most impressed with the influx of talent each new audition series brings. He also said in his three years as a member, he has seen major growth in the quality of the group.
In addition, Daly said he has seen group members become closer and more tight-knit.
“There’s something about singing that brings us all together, and we love it and enjoy it, and we wouldn’t trade anything for it,” Daly said.
For Daly, the group’s bonds go deeper than just friendships.
“My favorite part of being in the group is the fact that we can count on each other for everything,” Daly said. “It’s become more than a singing group — it’s become a fraternity of singing brothers.”