UT all-girl a cappella group to compete in International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella

Estefania de Leon

When human relations junior Courtney Penry took the stage during a recent a cappella performance, she was terrified. Her usual singing partner was sick, and she knew she could not do this alone — but she came up with a plan.

“During the key changes, I would just start doing the most outrageous dance moves,” Penry said. “I would just start doing hair flips, and I hopped offstage and got people to sing in the microphone. What they really didn’t know is I was doing that on purpose, so the crowd would not notice that I could not sing it on my own.”

Beauties and the Beat is the first all-female a cappella group on campus. Aside from performing at various events, their most recent success is being accepted to compete in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competition, which will take place this January in Florida.

According to Penry, the founder of Beauties and the Beat, this is a great step forward for the group just three semesters after since its inception.

“We just recently made the ICCA’s — which is the competition in ‘Pitch Perfect’ — so the short term goal is to step up our game,” Penry said. “Choosing songs that showcase all our voices and making up really great dances for the ICCA’s.”

Heather Grosenbacher, speech pathology sophomore and vice president of the group, said that although this is a huge accomplishment, there is still work to be done.

“In a cappella, there is always room for improvement,” Grosenbacher said. “We are always looking to improve our tempo, improve the way we listen to each other and, just in general, get better technically as a group.”

Beauties and the Beat was started by Penry in the fall of 2013 after unsuccessful attempts to join a cappella groups on campus.

“I said, ‘If I don’t make this group again for the second time, I’m just going to start my own thing,’” Penry said. 

Since there was not an all-girl a cappella group on campus, Penry wanted to establish one.

“The mission is to have a group of girls come together and sing in harmony and just have a good time singing together and spread the message of being strong, independent women,” Penry said. “We just come together and try to brighten people’s day with our singing, and we just want everyone to smile when we sing.”

Penry said she has seen the group’s evolution since the beginning and believes that it will continue to change for the better.

“I hope that we have a clear vision of what we want the group to be as a whole because, right now, we are really fresh and new, and our vision for the group is still kind of blurred,” Penry said. “Everyone wants different things, and I hope that down the line, we all just have the same vision.”

Nicole Fastow, radio-television-film junior and president of Beauties and the Beat, wants that vision to have a positive impact on campus.

“Singing and entertainment is really important, but we really like to inspire with our music, especially being the first all-female a cappella group at UT,” Grosenbacher said. “We want to send out a big message of female empowerment — going with what you want.”