Zander Merle-Smith held the microphone, thanking everyone for coming out to Naturally Sharp’s concert last Friday night, and when the lights turned on, he stood in awe with the large size of the audience.
On Nov. 9, Naturally Sharp, an all male a capella concert, celebrated its 10-year anniversary in the Graduate Life Center auditorium. For the first time in a long time, it filled out almost every seat, nearly selling out the show.
Merle-Smith, a senior English major, has been in Naturally Sharp for five years, and during that time, he has experienced the struggle of the group as it has tried to improve.
“We knew what we wanted to do as a group and that was instead of just singing, putting on the best show that we can hence all the comedy that we have in our show as well,” Merle-Smith said.
As the group attempted to improve their performance, it passed through pitfalls and obstacles. There was a lack of morale among members and a small audience at shows.
“There weren't many people and the crowd reaction and level of energy in the entire auditorium wasn’t that high," Merle-Smith said. "With some songs we’d be lucky if we even got applause.”
It didn’t take long for the group to initiate efforts to refine their identity.
It started by having a uniform of bow ties and sweaters to create a brand for themselves. They now have maroon blazers and orange ties.
“We’re not just Naturally Sharp anymore," Merle-Smith said. "People recognize the maroon blazer and orange tie as ‘oh, that’s Naturally Sharp.’ It’s a lot easier to recognize us around campus.”
They didn’t end there.
Naturally Sharp also recorded its first CD over the summer in North Carolina. Since then, its morale has gone up and they have a clear direction to go towards, said Merle-Smith.
And today, it will go to the Chi Delta Alpha a capella concert to join with the other five a capella groups on campus to raise money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters foundation.
Chi Delta Alpha is a community service sorority that works with children in local elementary schools as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters foundation.
“They’ve been losing a lot of donation money because of the economy and hardships right now," said Stephanie Myrick, fundraising chair of Chi Delta Alpha. "They’re not really accepting new Bigs and Littles because it’s hard for them to fund it.”
Several of these students are in unfortunate situations and without funding they lack a mentor, according to Myrick.
To help the initiative and assist these students, the sorority has hosted an a capella concert as a fundraiser event since 2004.
All six a capella groups, Juxtaposition, Mixed Emotions, Sensations, Solstice, Tech Notes, and Naturally Sharp will be in attendance.
“I love going to it because it’s all the groups for one really inexpensive price, and who on campus doesn’t love a capella?” Myrick said.
Merle-Smith is also looking forward to the concert and seeing the other a capella groups.
The concert will take place at Haymarket Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and tickets will be $5.