Reens Gone Wild: A Capella Jam

Mia Council '16 Features Editor

“I don’t know what this is, but you got me good,” belted Audrey Govea ’17, scaring a nearby dog and bringing the audience to thunderous applause with her rendition of Duffy’s “Mercy” at the Smithereens fall jam, “Reens Gone Wild,” in Helen Hills Hills Chapel on Sunday evening.

The nation’s fourth-oldest female a capella group performed several songs ranging from Lady Gaga’s “Yoü and I” (with the lyric “three men I’m gonna serve my whole life” changed to “three men I’m gonna love my whole life”) to “Let’s Get it On” to the closing “Softly,” which was sung with any Smithereens alumnae who were present.

Mt. Holyoke’s M&Cs, the guest group, sang in the middle of the event, enabling the Smithereens to change from their “Gone Wild” jungle costumes into traditional Smithereens red and black. “How’s Mount Holyoke? You know what? I kind of like Smith better than Mount Holyoke,” confessed Alexa Sullivan ’15, the M&Cs’ soloist for Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Breathless,” after the event. “Mount Holyoke’s very laid-back. But we still practice three times a week.”

Hannah Becker ’15 is the Smithereens’ assistant pitch, one of seven group positions including business manager and public relations. Becker explained the pre-jam routine: “We have a little pep talk, tell everyone how great they are, and then we do some energy warm-ups and power stances and we do our cheer, Reens on three.” Becker’s parents and grandparents were in the audience. When asked where their tradition of wearing red and black comes from, she said, “I’m not sure. I think there was a time when wore cummerbunds, in the ’80s.”

“What’s your favorite thing about being a Smithereen?” I ask Natalia Kappos ’15, a Smithereen of Greek and English descent.

“I really love singing and I love the people in it, so combined it’s one of the best experiences at Smith,” said Kappos, attracting a chorus of “aww”s.

Sarah Dews ’15, the pitch, mumbled that the group had indeed all watched “Pitch Perfect” together before relating the group’s history: “In 1945 in Albright, it was founded as the Albright Quartet, so it was originally four people. But within ten years they became the Smithereens. We have fourteen people right now.”

“How do y’all choose the songs?”

“If people hear a song where they’re like, ‘Yeah, I want to do this song,’ they’ll tell it to the rest of the group and we’ll say ‘yes, no, let’s do it,’ and then they have to arrange it, because we arrange all our own music. We can’t sing anything unless someone actually arranges it. So people’s willingness to arrange influences the repertoire,” Dews explained.

“What’s your least favorite thing about being a Smithereen?”

“It eats up my life,” said Dews happily, beckoning over a Anna Morrison ’16 so she could talk about joining an a capella group for instant community.