GrooVe hosts movie-themed a capella concert

GVL / Dan Goubert - GVSU GrooVe hosts a concert inside the Cook-DeWitt on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

Dan Goubert

GVL / Dan Goubert – GVSU GrooVe hosts a concert inside the Cook-DeWitt on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

Daniel Goubert

Though recent films like “Pitch Perfect” have shined a spotlight on the artform, a capella music has been drawing crowds at Grand Valley State University for years. GrooVe, one of GVSU’s four a capella organizations, reminded students of this by debuting a “movie night” of their own, one that showcased the group’s all-important human element.

For their end of semester “GrooVe Goes Hollywood” concert on April 16, the group filled the Cook-DeWitt Center with captivated audience members and renditions of famous songs like My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” and NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.” And in true a capella fashion, GrooVe did so without any instruments.

GrooVe choreography chair Bailey Phegley said the lively spirit of the 15-student group, which includes a dedicated beat boxer, helps draw big audiences.

“You’re essentially taking a song that already exists and completely recreating it by making it a capella,” Phegley said. “I think GrooVe’s energy is contagious. We’re having fun on stage, the audience is having fun and it just spreads through word-of-mouth.”

To tie into the night’s Hollywood theme, GrooVe laid out a fake red carpet leading to the stage and played satirical videos between songs, parodying films like “Mean Girls” and “The Goonies.”

GrooVe President Kelli Nemetz said that along with performing, it’s the group’s lighthearted nature that allows members to grow together.

“I always say GrooVe is a family away from families,” she said. “We’re silly and the weirdest group of people, but it makes performing and doing what we love most even better because we get to do it with people we love.”

In addition to celebrating the end of the group’s 2015-16 performance season, “GrooVe Goes Hollywood” allowed members to say and sing goodbye to three departing seniors, each of whom sung a personally arranged solo.

Joshua Sackleh, GrooVe’s business manager and one such departing member, led a rendition of East of Avenue’s “Paper Planes.” Sackleh said being in GrooVe gave him a much-needed outlet for stress.

“Every time I’ve had an issue or anything like that, I’ve always been able to just go to a GrooVe rehearsal and forget about the issue,” Sackleh said. “When I’m with GrooVe, everything seems relaxed, and it’s amazing.

Despite the sadness surrounding departing members, Nemetz said she is especially proud of GrooVe’s growth. Four founding members formed GrooVe in 2009 as a performance-focused offshoot of Euphoria, another GVSU a capella group, but GrooVe added seven more members this season alone. With auditions for 2016-17 set for Sept. 9-11, Nemetz said she encourages even more members to try out.

Phegley, a first-year GrooVe member, said in addition to the chance to sing at the collegiate level, the social benefit of joining has made her experience especially worthwhile.

“I’m not super social, so being in GrooVe helped me to make friends,” she said. “GrooVe is all of my friends at school. It’s all GrooVe all the time. It says a lot about a group when you’re not only excited to go to rehearsal but you spend all your time with the same people outside of rehearsal.”