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On Nov. 9, the lights dimmed in Sanders Theatre and the audience became silent. Suddenly, from backstage, the members of the Harvard Veritones came on stage to roaring applause.
Justice L. Sirotek ’27 went to the Fall Jam last week and shared that watching the a cappella performances has been one of the highlights of his Harvard experience.
“Everyone has such amazing talents and it’s really cool to get to watch them,” he said.
Students weren’t the only ones excited. Jill T. d’Arbeloff, a relative of one of the performers, said she was delighted to hear the groups.
“[Lucas Cohen-d’Arbeloff ’27] has two solos, so there’s 17 of us here to see him,” she said.
“HarvardKey: A Veri-Secure Jam” is a pun on the names of the two a cappella groups that performed. First were the Veritones, an all-gender group founded in 1985 that consists of 15 members. Next were the LowKeys, a group of nine members founded in 1999. The a cappella pair worked well together since both groups focused on contemporary music.
The performance began with a rendition of “Never Gonna Be Alone,” originally performed by Jacob Collier, Lizzy McAlpine, and John Mayer. Damla Yesil ’26 and CJ Nkenchor ’24 served as the soloists. Yesil’s soprano voice blended with Nkenchor’s tenor to create a soothing sound that captivated the audience and prepared them for the show to come.
The set continued with a wide range of popular songs such as “Gangsta” by Kehlani, “Take Me To Church” by Hozier, and “Streets” by the Doobie Brothers. While singing Kehlani, the Veritones sang “I need a gangsta to love me better than all the others do” in a soothing voice that gave a very different energy when compared to the studio version. Ultimately, the Veritones were able to transform many different songs into one coherent narrative.
Once the Veritones finished, the LowKeys were greeted with thunderous applause on stage. Their group size was perfect for the complexity of the music they selected, and highlighted individual voices too. For instance, Isa K. Lashley ’26 was able to sing the high notes on “Almost Is Never Enough” by Ariana Grande and Nathan Sykes, which yielded audible cheers from the crowd. The LowKeys concluded their segment with “Deja Vu” by Beyonce, a tribute to the pop icon. This performance was strong and had the entire audience clapping on the beat. Both the LowKeys and the Veritones received standing ovations at the end of their performances.
Sabina Amin, an audience member, said she was amazed by the show.
“A cappella is something that Harvard does so well, and each of the crew have their own artistic vision that they bring to the table.”
In addition to showcasing their skills, a sense of community was fostered. Both the Veritones and LowKeys used this show as an opportunity to celebrate the recently inducted members of the a cappella groups, also known as “newbies.” This gave people who were attending a chance to celebrate their friends. Alumni of the Veritones and LowKeys were also present.
“The audience was so lively. Everyone was clapping when they needed to clap, which was great. They were screaming, they were dancing. I mean, we really fed off the energy of the audience and it was phenomenal today,” said Veritones member Luísa Shida ’25.
Douglas B. Yang ’25, a member of the LowKeys, also enjoyed performing in the show.
“I’ve been with the Keys since my freshman year. This would make it the fifth time performing with the Keys in Sanders” he said.
For members of the Veritones and the LowKeys, however, the a cappella groups provide more than just a platform to share vocal prowess.
“[My friends] get to come and share this moment with me and it’s really great to have them here,” Yang said to The Crimson.
“It’s actually really nice to have a couple of hours a week where you're just kind of distanced away from work and you just got to immerse yourself in music and just enjoy it. So that’s what the Keys mean for me,” said Yang.
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