Archer’s a cappella group The Unaccompanied Minors submitted a video rendition of The Jackson 5’s song “I Want You Back” to the annual Macy’s All-School A Cappella Challenge in October. The video featured the entire Upper School along with faculty and staff.
Music Director Kate Burns discovered the competition on Twitter after esteemed a cappella group Pentatonix shared the promotion video in a tweet in September. She proceeded to read the rules and reached out to Dean of Students Travis Nesbitt to see if the Upper School could engage in the challenge.
After Burns proposed the idea to the Unaccompanied Minors, the group brainstormed ideas for the arrangement and video. For the arrangement, she wanted the group to stand out in some way.
“I wanted to do a version that was slow and kind of somber in the beginning and switch halfway through so it would stand out to the judges,” Burns said.
While thinking of creative plots to stand out in the video, Alex Sherman ’17 asked, “What if we had the WiFi go away?”
“Archer girls would dramatically react to that, so we ran with it. I think it’s really funny,” Sherman said.
In producing the video, the biggest challenge the group faced was time.
“We had to choreograph and coordinate the whole Upper School being filmed during the Upper School meeting and so we had meetings with deans and Dr. Nesbitt about coordinating everyone in the Upper School. We also had to get the arrangement learned,” Burns said.
“I had to write the songs and we had to learn and it and record it. We had to film, so the biggest challenge was trying to get everything done in time and have it look good and sound good.”
Sherman and Lulu Cerone ’17 were the filmmakers for the video since they have been a part of Archer’s film program for the past three years.
“We’re both great collaborators. It’s been a really great experience working with Lulu since we both are very different filmmakers and we both have very different aesthetics. So to combine forces and make something that I’m really proud of and has gotten a lot of love on the internet is really fun,” Sherman said.
Since submitting the video, the group has been watching every submission of other a cappella groups on YouTube.
“We were one of the only all-female a cappella groups, and I think we’re a fairly strong all-female a cappella group,” Cerone said.
“Everyone in the group is a really strong singer and we work super well together and we have a very good energy and we vibe very well off each other,” she said. “I hope that was evident in the video, I definitely think that is a cool part about our group.”
“I think our video is different and interesting. We are one of the few schools that submitted that I’ve seen that the whole school is involved which I think is a really nice feature that we have,” Burns said. “It wasn’t just the a cappella group. And the faculty and staff were involved as well. So it really was a celebration of our entire school.”
The winning a cappella group will be awarded a cash prize of $25,000. Results of the competition are set to be announced on or around November 4.