Under the amber light of a street lamp, the north end of campus was painted in the soft colors of dusk. The hums of cicadas in late August were the only sounds amongst the nervous silence of my callback group. I’d auditioned for a music group on campus before, but this was my first time nervously running lyrics outside a New Apartment. My two best friends joined Kenyon’s jazz a cappella group called Take Five for our freshman year. After hearing all their fun stories about the group last year and experiencing some of the vibrant a cappella scene on campus, I felt compelled to audition.
I’d done choir for as long as I could remember, but had never really sung solos, much less in front of eight college students that I somewhat knew. Fumbling with the piano app on my phone like the other six students also auditioning, I tried to find the right starting note for my song. Softly humming the tune of “Autumn Leaves” by Nat King Cole grounded me. In my mind, I heard the voice of my dad from our call earlier that day encouraging me to sing one of his favorite jazz standards.
“If you just adjust the key for your soprano voice, it’ll sound great!”
“I don’t know dad, what if everyone does this song?” I remember asking nervously.
“So what? Take your time with it, sink into the melody. Have fun with it and you’ll catch someone’s attention in the audition, I promise you.”
In the end, I had been right — at least two other guys did the same song as me. But I loved the feeling of singing and learning jazz songs alongside the experienced group for my callback. A couple hours later, I got a strange knock on my dorm door. Apparently, there was another mini-audition I had to do. The president of the group profusely apologized the whole way back to the New Apt, saying that this normally never happened this late and that it was going to be very quick. The grogginess of sleep quickly wore off as I started panicking over what to sing for them (again!) and if this meant that they really liked my callback. I was settled back into the apartment with three other unfamiliar faces, who all looked as nervous and confused as I was. But before we could sing or perform, all of the group members surprised us with the great news: we had made it into Take Five.