I hadn’t heard of the collegiate a cappella craze until I began touring Northeastern schools during my senior spring. Fast forward to freshman fall, I find myself auditioning for The Princeton Tigertones. Two years, seven tours, and a hundred gigs later, here I am. Every weeknight, I hang out with a bunch of dudes and we snap and sing together. Not how I pictured young adulthood, but by and large, I’m pretty pleased with myself.
We perform local gigs every two weeks or so—corporate parties, bar mitzvahs, country clubs, high schools etc. And our repertoire accommodates this broad range of shows—the Temptations for your grandma, Coldplay for your conventional brother, and Bon Iver for your alternative brother.
Tours are the coolest part of it all. Every fall, spring, and summer we travel domestically or internationally. Usually Princeton alumni house us, and sometimes we get to stay at hotels for free if we sing at enough happy hours. In the past two years we’ve been to Britain, Brazil, Bermuda, and 'Bama. But even though we’re touring, we don’t feel like tourists. Performing allows us to really interact with a new place. We are emoting with people we’ve never seen and never will see again, but for the duration of that show, the feelings are real and beautiful.
Sophomore fall, I sang at a show that I can’t seem to get out of my head. It was at an after-school program for teenagers in Sao Paulo. We held a workshop and taught the kids how we warm up, harmonize, and even beat box. They were good, incredibly good considering the language difference. After the workshop and concert, we ate lunch together, and they showed off a little. The video below is from a particularly talented kid. He would later tell me (via translator) that the rap is about his life growing up impoverished in a tough part of Sao Paulo.
His song blew me away, and the feeling of privilege I experienced upon listening was more profound than words can convey. I can’t explain why, but music has the ability to transcend all the little stuff that seems so important. From entrance to final chord, it’s just the performer, the audience, and the song.