Super Sounds of the Kent Clarks

Madeleine Winer

Maybe you heard their voices echo throughout the rotunda at Rosie’s. You might hear them as they burst into song outside Cartwright Hall before the drag show during Sex Week.

Regardless, if you attended Blastoff or their end of the year concert, your ears may have been treated to their smooth a capella harmonies.

If you nodded your head recalling any of the above, then you have been introduced to the Kent Clarks, Kent State’s first, co-ed a cappella group.

Founded in Fall 2010 by grad student Stephen Cox, the Kent Clarks use their voices to perform popular music from all generations. Cox was an original member of the Vanderbilt Variations, Vanderbilt University’s co-ed a cappella group. “He wanted to start a group of his own at Kent State while working on his graduate degree,” said Kent Clarks’s President Jason Watkins.

With the help of Watkins, who volunteered to be a beat boxer for the group, Cox started attending karaoke nights and recruiting students. The Kent Clarks hosted their first auditions in January 2011. The group now consists of 19 students, both grads and undergrads, from a variety of majors.

“With my schedule, I don’t have time to be in a choir,” said sophomore musical theatre major Christine Lamendola. “It’s nice to be with a different group of people not in your major.”

Covering music from all genres, The Kent Clarks’s set list for last semester boasted hits from Maroon 5’s “This Love” to Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and The Lonely Island’s comedic hit “I Just had Sex.”

The Kent Clarks’s musical director, Bryan Kelly, said he likes the fact that contemporary a capella is relatively unlimited.

“Voice can do pretty much anything an instrument can,” Kelly said.

Kelly, along with three other vocal percussionists, arranges songs for the group to perform; however, all members are encouraged to arrange music. Kelly said creating a cappella arrangements gives him the opportunity to “really add depth to a song that you normally don’t get.”

“We try to do songs that our group enjoys and that our audience would like to hear,” Kelly said. The group learns about one song per week and is constantly adding to their repertoire.

Shamara Costa, a freshman musical theatre major and member of the Kent Clarks, likes the range of songs the Kent Clarks covers.

“I like being able to branch out and do different kinds of music that we aren’t used to as musical theatre majors,” Costa said.

The group is working on their set list for this semester, which includes LMFAO’s electro-pop hit “Party Rock Anthem,” Panic! At the Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat’s “Lucky.”

Kelly said auditions for the Kent Clarks are on an as need basis. Both Watkins and Kelly said they are looking forward to the group’s big concert in the Music and Speech Center at the end of the semester.

Contact Madeleine Winer at [email protected].