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Georgetown GraceNotes celebrate 30 years of singing, friendship

Jenna Johnson

I wrote a story for Tuesday's newspaper about the booming popularity of college a cappella groups, especially at Georgetown University. I gave some details about each of the campus's six groups.

Unfortunately the only detail I included about the all-women GraceNotes was that they are known for wearing short skirts. Of all of the many things I could have told readers about the GraceNotes, that should not have been it. And I apologize for doing so.

This spring I sat down for lunch with the ladies of the GraceNotes in Georgetown. We talked about the history of the group, the difficulty some women's a cappella groups face in a time when coed groups are growing, their most recent CD and their favorite songs to perform.

One of my favorites is "Higher and Higher":

The GraceNotes were founded in 1980, and this year they celebrate their 30th anniversary. Over time, the group has added more contemporary music to its play list. Today that includes Beyonce's "Ego," Rihanna's "Take a Bow," and Matt Nathanson's "Come on Get Higher."

"One of our first albums was, 'Say Grace,' and everyone wore nun outfits," said Diana Kolar, a junior finance major who will become the group's president this spring. "We've come a long way."

"I think we are pretty daring for an all-girls group," added Stephanie Meltzer, a senior nursing major who is the group's business manager.

The GraceNotes gather three times a week to practice -- and even more right before a big show. They have performed at the Kennedy Center, the Pentagon and the White House. Audience members have included the Chinese Ambassador and Kofi Annan. The GraceNotes recently launched a new website, with hopes they can travel more and book even more engagements.

And each year the GraceNotes and The Phantoms, Georgetown's oldest coed group, co-host the D.C. A Cappella Festival to bring together groups from campus and a number of East Coast universities. This year shows will be held Nov. 6 and 13. (Tickets are $10 and can be purchased, here.)

The GraceNotes usually audition fewer students than some of the coed groups, but this year they added six "BabyNotes." Singing together in an all-women group is a good opportunity to develop leadership skills in a safe environment, many of the singers said. Plus, the group has a lot of fun together and the members form life-long friendships.

Facebook has made it easier for the GraceNotes to keep in touch with "AlumNotes." Recently, the group sang at an alum's wedding -- and the bride joined in.

"It's not a sorority," Kolar said, "but it feels like one."

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  | October 20, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags:  Georgetown University  
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