A Capella

The tradition of campus groups singing without accompaniment goes back at least to the 1920s, when a group of students and local residents formed an a capella choir, which performed traditional songs. A new breed of a capella groups, inspired by barbershop quartet—style singing, began at UNC—Chapel Hill in 1978 with the founding of the Clef Hangers, an all-male vocal group that quickly became popular on campus. Many other groups followed, including the Loreleis, an all-women group formed in 1981, and Harmonyx, founded in 1995 as a subgroup of UNC's Black Student Movement.

By the 1980s a capella concerts were common on campus, and they have remained popular with students. The Clef Hangers' annual "Old Well Sing" performance on the last day of classes each spring has become a university tradition. In 2009 Clef Hangers member Anoop Desai received national attention when he appeared on the popular TV competition American Idol. In 2015 the Clef Hangers brought UNC—Chapel Hill a capella to the White House, performing a song for President Barack Obama.


Date Established: 1920

Date Range: 1920 – Present

Harmonyx, the a capella group of UNC's Black Student Movement, performing at a concert in August 2018. Photo by Jon Gardiner, UNC-Chapel Hill.