While you may have stumbled across various a cappella performances across campus, attended the O-Show or heard of a friend who’s in a cappella, many students don’t know much about the different a cappella groups housed on our campus — so The Chronicle has prepared a comprehensive guide to a cappella groups at Duke.
The Amandla Chorus is a coed a cappella group established in 2016 that seeks to uplift and embrace the complexity of African culture, history, and values by sharing traditional African music with the Duke community. Even their name – which includes “Amandla,” a word meaning power in Zulu and Xhosa, two languages from Southern Africa – represents part of the mission of their group: to empower Black voices across Duke through music. During their performances, such as the SoMogo Music Concert, the group begins with spoken word storytelling about the community whose music they are performing to contextualize and enhance the songs.
Deja Blue is an all-female a cappella group founded in 1999. Focusing on R&B and pop music from female artists, Deja Blue’s website highlights their priority of “empowering our members and the community through our music.” Deja Blue can be found performing at events such as Devilthon, a student-run fundraiser for the Duke Children’s Hospital. Freshman Jade Decker (Trinity ‘27) says that her Experiential Orientation, Project Arts, originally inspired her to become involved with the arts on campus. Prior knowledge of a cappella from Pitch Perfect and O-Show brought her to try out for Deja Blue, and she can’t wait to get started. She told The Chronicle that she's excited to both perform with the group and to learn how to arrange music and create mashups of songs.
Lady Blue was founded in 1991 as an all-female a cappella group with a name inspired by Billie Holiday’s song “Lady Sings the Blues”. One of Lady Blue’s founders, Angela Hutcheson, describes the group on their website as “great at empowering people – not to create people in any particular mold, but let them express themselves.” Lady Blue performs on and off campus in addition to recording their own music. Captain Ilana Segal (Trinity ‘24) told The Chronicle that a fun fact about the group is that they don matching Duke Blue shoes for performances. Their theme song is “Faith” by George Michael, passed down as an oral tradition to each generation of Lady Blue. Segal emphasized how close the Lady Blue community is, and how she is eternally grateful for meeting some of her best friends through the group.
Out of the Blue
Out of the Blue, founded in 1980, is Duke’s oldest all-female a cappella group. Music director Eliza Heaton (Trinity ‘24), described the Out of the Blue community as “everlasting”, saying that the “family that is fostered [with OOTB] never fades away.” One example of this strong community is their tradition of presenting scrapbooks to seniors in the Duke Gardens in the spring, which is one of the many ways they show their appreciation for one another according to Eliza. OOTB releases an album every 2-4 years.
Pitchforks is an all-male a cappella group founded in 1979, making it the oldest a cappella group at Duke. An early member of the group is the first faculty in residence of Duke and mentor to principal players of symphonies across America, Professor Benjamin F. Ward, who directed and performed with The Pitchforks starting in 1981. Pitchforks President Ahan Kaul (Pratt ‘24) said one of his favorite Pitchforks traditions is their Christmas showcase with Out of the Blue at the Gothic Reading Room, typically one of the most silent spots on campus.
Something Borrowed Something Blue
Something Borrowed Something Blue is Duke’s first and only Christian a cappella group, originally founded in 1969 as a Christian folk band, but adopting their current name in 1993. SBSB’s music focuses on communicating their love of God and of music. Their website explains how they “blend fun, service, and music, allowing us to grow as followers of Christ and as a family of friends.” The group’s name is in reference to the famous wedding rhyme, signifying how the group is “the beloved bride of Christ” as their site describes. The group performs at events such as their Oct. 23, 2022 concert with United in Praise, a gospel choir and praise dance ministry at the Duke Chapel.
Speak of the Devil
Speak of the Devil is an all-male acappella group founded in 1991 by Preston Kim (Trinity ‘93) and Walter Moore (Trinity ‘93). Covering everything from hip-hop to country to classic rock, Speak of the Devil performs at Duke and in Durham in addition to other colleges and universities throughout the country.
Rhythm & Blue
A coed a cappella group founded in 1992, Rhythm and Blue is the only team at Duke that has ever attended the ICCAs, the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. First-year Pallavi Bhargava (Trinity ‘27), joined to continue to pursue acappella at “the only [Duke] acappella group that competes at the famous ICCAs” and to find a rewarding and welcoming environment.
Temptasians is a coed a cappella group founded in 2001 “to share Asian culture through music.” The group performs at annual showcases such as Duke’s Lunar New Year and Duke ASA’s Converge, an event where different Asian and Asian American communities come together to celebrate and share their culture and lived experiences. Temptasian Social Chair and sophomore Steven Peng (Trinity ‘26) described the group’s community as both laid back and “a mixture of very strong, unique personalities that share a love for Asian [and], Asian-American music and culture” over email and was drawn to the group because of the unique way he could express himself musically.
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