Kent Clarks take D.C.


Submitted Photo

Kianna Bugglin

One Kent State student organization received the chance of a lifetime when it was asked to perform for President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Dec. 16.

The Kent Clarks, an all-student a cappella group, traveled to the White House in Washington D.C. just a week after finals to sing and perform for the first family.

Meagan Eishen, a senior music theatre major and music director for the group, said the White House is always looking for new talent to perform. In order to apply, the group sent in a video from its YouTube channel.

“We sent a video in and they loved it and asked when we could perform,” Eishen said. “They were more than willing to work around our schedule here at the university so we were able to go the week after finals week.”

When the group first arrived to the White House about 4:30 p.m., they were sent to a holding room where they were able to prepare and rehearse. After, they were sent out to perform at a reception honoring the press, where they did a 30-minute set and performed for many famous faces, including Al Roker, Rev. Al Sharpton and journalist Savannah Guthrie.

They then went to the “diplomatic room,” where they waited for the president and the first lady to come in. Once they arrived, they took a photo, the group performed, and then the president and first lady engaged in small conversation with the group, Eishen said.

Meghan Fitzgerald, a junior speech pathology and audiology major, said that she had one experience that she will never forget.

“My favorite part was getting to solo for the president and the first lady,” Fitzgerald said. “It was nerve-racking, but it was really fun and they seemed to enjoy it which was awesome.”

Eishen said the group typically rehearses three times a week, but they extended rehearsal times in the weeks leading up to the trip. The group usually just performs Top 40 contemporary hits, but an official from the White House asked the group to sing more holiday tunes.

“They wanted a lot of holiday focus which we have never done before,” Eishen said. “We started with a lot of holiday stuff but as the night went on we were able to do more of our contemporary Top 40 stuff that we normally do.”

President of the Kent Clarks Jason Watkins, a senior athletic training major, said the trip was surreal.

“The D.C. trip was phenomenal,” Watkins said. “The group had such a great time, not only performing for the president and the first lady, but taking in the city and all the things it has to offer.”

In the coming weeks, the group will be preparing for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Great Lakes Quarterfinal on Jan. 31. This gives The Kent Clarks the opportunity to prepare a twelve minute set to be judged and placed. Last year, the group placed fourth in the competition.

While at the White House, Eishen said the group was also approached by the executive producer of The Today Show, who was interested in The Kent Clarks coming to New York City and performing on the show.

“It was really cool to see all the doors that could open,” Eishen said. “It was the coolest experience of my life and probably everyone else’s.”

To learn more about The Kent Clarks, visit the group’s Facebook page at  

Contact Kianna Bugglin at [email protected].