The Blend is the youngest and only co-ed a capella group on Wheaton’s campus.
Unlike the Whims or Wheatones, who have up to eighty years of alumni and experience as an acapella group, as well as the Gentlemen Callers who have twenty-five years, The Blend was established only ten years ago, with no alums over thirty one.
Although The Blend devotes six hours a week to performing and singing, stabilizing themselves has proven to be difficult, since funds are hard to come by and notoriety is a long corner to turn. This, however, has not stopped the group from raising enough money and devoting enough time to commit to an album, which will be released next semester.
Believe it or not, the opportunity for the album had arisen through the internet. Maddie Sullivan ’17, co-president of the Blend, and her brother run an online acapella fan page. David Mongo, one of the employees for The Voice Company (a highly renowned recording company that has recorded with famous acapella groups such as The Melodores, featured on The Sing-Off), stumbled upon the page. After a video conference, Mongo invited Sullivan out to dinner to discuss album prospects.
After landing the deal, The Blend raised $8,000 in a month this past summer, thanks to impressive efforts by alums, parents and friends through a Kickstarter, a phone campaign and hard work by the members.
Raising this amount of money and having this opportunity has proved to be a massive game changer for the young acapella team. Sullivan said that reaching this amount of money had been exciting not only for the members but also for the alums as well. “I got like 40 emails from the alums just being like ‘yay we did it!’ It’s really great to be able to reach out to them and have that connection,” she said.
Working with alums has become an important mission for Sullivan, “We wanted to get as many alumni involved as possible…because a lot of the time they’ll come, show up to the jam, say hi, sing our signature song with us and leave, and it’s kind of awkward because they don’t know any of us. So one of my big missions is to have it so that they know who we are and can come back and hang with us anytime.” Sullivan hopes to start an affinity or alumni group and to have a rehearsal with alums every semester to tighten the bond.
The Blend has already recorded three of the six songs that will be on the album, and have decided to space out recordings enough so that as many of the members can record as possible. Ian Curran ‘17, The Blend’s music director, has chosen the songs that will be on the album and has been helping them with the recording process, as well as Mongo.
“When you really think about it, you can really get into it and release that emotion,” Sullivan said. “What sets us apart is even when we’re not working together, we’re still hanging out all the time. Everyone’s so funny. It’s our fun energy and how much we like each other and how that comes across on stage. We want to be a bigger presence in the acapella community, not just on campus.”
The album is coming out tentatively next March and will also be available on Spotify and iTunes. Their single will be available as a download either sometime later this semester or earlier in the spring.