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The Blue & Gray Press | May 26, 2018

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Sass, Soul and Community: Inside Look at BellACapella

By GABRIELLE KUHN

With the words “rock it out,” Katherine Preseren, president of BellACapella, transformed laughing, chattering young women into a room of swaying hips and nodding heads.  Voice became orchestra as the members of BellACapella took the words of their president to heart.
Belting out the notes of Eurythmics’s “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” was a full-body performance, highlighting one thing that sets these girls apart from other a cappella groups at the University of Mary Washington: sass.
Hip-swerving, finger-snapping sass.
The girls played to the “audience” as they sang joyful interpretations of songs like Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” and a Sara Bareilles mash-up.
Along with these light choices are the deep sounds of R&B and soul.  From Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” to Adele’s “Someone Like You,” the Bellas incorporate their unique mix of bubbly and soulful into the music of big-name divas, as well as some lesser-known artists.
For example, BellACappella finished off a Sunday night rehearsal with a newer song selection, Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River.”  Sophomore Hope Racine led the group with her bluesy voice and attitude while her fellow Bellas supported her with vocal instrumentation and encouragement.
The music itself is only a piece of the BellACappella experience.  Attitude is just as essential to this all-female group’s image.
The girls, known to each other as “Bellas,” describe their choices in song as “lighter fair.”  However, Preseren tries to add something extra to each number.
“A little more pizzazz, a little more energy, a little more oomph,” Preseren told her Bellas during the evening practice session.  “You don’t have to get jacked up on happiness, but smile, okay?”
While “sass” and “soul” are more than adequate terms to describe UMW’s BellACapella, the most visible quality of the group is its’ sense of community.
Rehearsal on Sunday night began at 8 p.m. with each Bella telling the group one fun thing that they did over the weekend.  The other girls turned in their chairs to listen to each other, smiling and responding to their friends.
At 9 p.m, when the Bellas had finished singing, some girls held up dresses for “concert outfit approval” and pitched hair and makeup choices.
The members of BellACappella don’t limit their time together to their performance space.  “Bella-bonding,” organized over the Bellas’ private Facebook group, includes trips to the movie theater to see films like “Pitch Perfect,” a 2012 comedy about an all-girl a cappella group, or spending afternoons apple-picking.
BellACappella is a busy group.  Bonding and sharing new song ideas, the girls prepare for their concerts on campus and in other cities. With their irresistible combination of attitude and soul, these tightly-bonded Bellas are not to be missed!