Communication Studies Students Among Kent Clarks Singing Group Performing At White House
Students from the School of Communication Studies performed at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as members of the Kent Clarks, a contemporary a cappella singing group, on December 16, 2014.
Applied communication majors John Pernell and Samantha Velotta described the experience as surreal.
“It was everything,” Pernell, a senior from Springfield, said. “It was crazy, it was great, and it was a memorable moment.”
Velotta, who has been a member of the Kent Clarks for three years, said she never imagined that she would have the opportunity to meet the President and First Lady.
“Never in my life would I have thought that I would come to college and be a part of an a cappella group that would be such a huge, impacting part of my life,” Velotta said.
The Kent Clarks were invited to perform at the White House after sending in an audition tape. The group performed two sets for White House attendees, and performed a one-minute rendition of Jingle Bells exclusively for the President and First Lady.
Pernell recalled the moment when the President first walked in.
“He came in like a regular person, like a regular day, and shook our hands individually,” he said. “[The Obamas] were just comfortable with everybody; they were just regular people.”
Last year, the Kent Clarks took part in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) competition in Bowling Green. The group took home 4th place in their region for their first time entering the competition, which is the same one featured in the popular movie “Pitch Perfect.”
“If you see it in the movie, that’s exactly the level that you have to be at as far as energy, singing, and musicality,” Pernell said.
The Kent Clarks will compete for the second time at the ICCAs Jan. 31.
Competing in the ICCAs represents a shift in the direction of the group, according to Pernell.
“We’re coming from a regular a cappella singing group, who just did it for enjoyment, and now we’re transitioning into a competitive a cappella group.”
The Kent Clarks typically performs at local events and for organizations on campus and people will contact them throughout the semester to perform.
“Performing for other organizations is really cool because then you get to know what’s going on around campus,” Velotta said. “I think it’s awesome because it always makes campus feel smaller to me.”
Performing with the Kent Clarks is connecting with other musicians, and what Pernell enjoys most.
“You’ve seen every emotion out of every person for the most part,” he said. “Going through that with a group of people is a journey in itself, and it’s enjoyable as crazy as that may seem.”
Velotta enjoys attending rehearsals because it provides a break from her hectic schedule.
“We’re like a family,” she said. “I get to hang out with my friends, I get to do something I love, and we have fun while we do it.”
To find out where the Kent Clarks will be performing, follow them on Twitter @kent_clarks, Instagram @kentclarks, or on their Facebook or YouTube page.