Senior members of Whim ’n Rhythm keep singing
When the coronavirus pandemic derailed the spring semester, the members of Whim ’n Rhythm — Yale’s all-senior, soprano-alto a cappella group — were in the process of recording their annual studio album, a musical capsule of their year together. Now, all the mixing and mastering is happening remotely, and the 12 members use Zoom to stay connected for regular rehearsals and socializing, which they will continue throughout the summer, in lieu of their planned world tour.
While they can’t perform live, the group wanted to capture one last song that they could share with the world at large. They chose the upbeat pop song “Wings” by the British girl group Little Mix — one of the 16 tracks recorded for the new album.
The lyrics perfectly capture the singers’ current attitude — a spirit of cheerful defiance, positivity, and hope amid trying circumstances, said Whim business manager and alto I member Joanna Wu ’20:
“And we don’t let nobody bring us down / No matter what you say it won’t hurt me / Don’t matter if I fall from the sky / These wings are made to fly.”
Whim ’n Rhythm’s repertoire includes jazz standards, pop hits, and folk ballads, including songs from Ella Fitzgerald, Carole King, the Indigo Girls, Sam Smith, Adele, and Billie Eilish. The group has a special place among Yale’s a cappella groups. At the time of its founding in 1981, Whim was considered the all-female counterpart to the all-male, all-senior Whiffenpoofs. Now, both groups are open to students of all genders. Whim identifies as SSAA (Soprano I, Soprano II, Alto I, Alto II) and the Whiffs as TTBB (Tenor I, Tenor II, Bass I, Bass II).
The Whim ’n Rythm singers have relished their regular Zoom calls since being separated in March, Wu said.
The members, she said, “wanted to rehearse, learn music, and keep fostering relationships with each other, even if we couldn’t sing together in person or tour again.”
During Zoom meetings, the group spends 30 minutes socializing and sharing how they are feeling adjusting to life away from campus. Then they warm-up, share new arrangements, and take turns singing solos, listening to one another and offering praise and pointers.
They produced the video rendition of “Wings” in May to capture the group’s spirit and enthusiasm and offer a proper sendoff for their senior members.
The album is due out this summer and will be available on iTunes and the Whim ’n Rhythm website.