Arts & Culture

Shades of Brown fosters collaboration, builds family community

Multicultural a cappella group to celebrate 30th anniversary with concert over Family Weekend

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Acapella group Shades of Brown fosters collaboration of multicultural and multiethnic group members, rooting itself in strong history of diversity.

Shades of Brown, a multicultural and multi-ethnic a capella group, will perform over Family Weekend to mark its 30th anniversary.

The group, founded in 1986, sings a variety of genres — namely rhythm and blues, soul and pop, among others. But beyond its music, Shades of Brown has a history of diversity and togetherness that persists to the present day.

“When I’m with Shades, I really feel like I’m with my family. … I’m singing songs I grew up listening to,” said Daryl Polk ’19, a member of the group. “We have so many diverse backgrounds. It’s a really beautiful melting pot of people.”

The group’s newest members have also noted the Shades’ strong community. “After auditions, if we saw someone, we were already friends,” said Patience Adegboyega ’20, a new member of Shades.

“I’ve only been in Shades for about two weeks, and it already feels like a family away from home,” Polk said.

This sense of community goes hand in hand with cooperation between the 13 members. “There’s a true collaborative effort in Shades. The group has been around for decades, and the collaborative effort has been there and will continue to be there. That’s what we want to foster,” said Kristin Ramcharan ’17, another member of the group.

“When you participate in Shades, you are participating in a collaboration. It should be a manifestation of everyone’s singing choices,” Ramcharan added. “Everyone’s involved.”

The group is currently preparing for its upcoming concert, its first Family Weekend performance in three years.

“I first fell in love with Shades by hearing them at the Family Weekend concert my freshman year,” Ramcharan said, “so it feels like the manifestation of a full circle.”

“I hope to blow people away because honestly the members of Shades are really, really talented,” Adegboyega said.

“They are absolutely amazing and incredibly talented,” said Kiran Cartolari ’19.

Preparation has ramped up in anticipation of the concert, with the group meeting two or three more times a week than usual to practice.

“We’ve been practicing a lot,” Ramcharan said. “We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable with their parts.”

“It’s a lot of rehearsing, but it’s so fun that you forget you’re working — the time flies,” Polk said. “It’s like a class you really want to take because you really love it.”

A welcoming mood is important for Shades of Brown. “We strive for a warm environment that’s familial and familiar. … We want you to find some connection with Shades to what family means to you,” Ramcharan said. 

“You’re not scared to mess up,” Adegboyega said. “It’s a space where people can really grow.”

Shades of Brown will perform Oct. 22 at 4 p.m.

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