Arts & Culture

A capella battle supports Global Brigades outreach in Honduras

Groups from Brown, Providence College unite in sing-off to raise funds for winter medical trip

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Bear Necessities won the first challenge of Saturday’s “Pitch Please” benefit battle with a rendition of “Bottoms Up.” The group beat out the Chattertocks, the Ursa Minors and Providence College’s Strictly Speaking.

By 8 p.m. on Saturday night, the seats of MacMillian 117 were nearly filled — the audience chattering in eager anticipation of “Pitch Please: An Aca-Benefit Battle.”

Organized and hosted by Brown’s Global Brigades, the battle featured three of Brown’s a cappella groups, and one group from Providence College. The three emcees of the battle —Anna Lanpher ’16, Kat Zouboulakis ’18 and Kwame McCain ’15 — sauntered to the front of the lecture hall to Fergie’s “Fergalicious,” before introducing the four participating groups — the Ursa Minors, the Bear Necessities, the Chattertocks and PC’s Strictly Speaking.

The battle included four separate challenges, with each a cappella group competing to win points awarded by six judges who were randomly selected from the audience. The judges rated each performance on a scale from one to five.

The first challenge — “Always Rap It Up” — was won by the Bear Necessities with a rendition of Trey Songz’s “Bottoms Up.” The group continued its winning streak through the following two challenges — “Sinful Seducción” and “Otra vez Jueves” — though Strictly Speaking remained a close second.

For the final challenge, Strictly Speaking performed Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River,” earning enough points to tie with the Bear Necessities. The victor of the battle was decided in a beatbox-off between Will Palmer ’15 of the Bear Necessities and Brannon Walker-Hodges of Strictly Speaking. Though both gentlemen were popular among the audience, the crowd’s “cheer-off” awarded the title to Strictly Speaking.

Cheers and conversation amongst audience members exiting the Benefit Battle were indicative of their satisfaction with the battle and its outcome.

Brown’s Global Brigades organized Saturday night’s event to help fund the group’s Winter Medical Trip to Honduras. Lanpher, a member of the group’s executive board, said the board was inspired by the riff-off in “Pitch Perfect” while brainstorming fundraising ideas at a meeting.

“It’s a very expensive trip,” she said. Besides flight and program costs, much of the trip’s expenses come from the cost of medications, she added.

The medications delivered to rural Honduran communities on the Global Brigades trip are mostly ones that are relatively easy to access in the United States, including Ibuprofen and Claritin, said Zouboulakis, another member of the Global Brigades e-board. The populations Global Brigades aims to serve are often so isolated that “people need to drive two or three hours” to reach cities with hospitals, she added. As a result, people frequently die of preventable or treatable health problems, Zouboulakis said.

Global Brigades aims to help the communities through a “step-by-step process,” Lanpher said. The process begins with the medical brigade delivering medications. Eventually, other brigades follow, helping to develop clean water, infrastructure and electricity, she said. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for people in the community in ways that will allow the community to become self-sufficient, she added.

Zouboulakis said the battle is part of a larger fundraising effort of the group. Besides the usual bake sales, the group also has a benefit at Point Street Dueling Pianos approaching and is hoping to make the a cappella battle an annual event. 

“We’re trying to make a tradition on campus and at the same time fundraise,” Zouboulakis said. “We’ve been living, breathing and thinking a cappella for the past six weeks.”

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