Find your tune in Northwestern’s a cappella scene


Daily file photo by Madison Smith

Freshman Fifteen performs at Rock the Lake in 2021. Freshman Fifteen is one of 13 a cappella groups on campus.

Audrey Hettleman, Managing Editor

Hoping to live out your “Pitch Perfect” fantasies? Look no further than Northwestern’s 13 a cappella groups. 

Whether you’re looking for a group that competes, celebrates cultural music or fits your range, there is sure to be a home for you in NU’s a cappella scene. 

Auditions take place every fall and, depending on the group, throughout the year. 


Asterik is the only all-male a cappella group on campus. The group’s name was originally supposed to be “Asterisk,” but after a founder submitted a form with the typo, the name stuck. The group recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. 

Brown Sugar

NU’s premier coed South Asian a cappella group performs mashups of multiple genres — from U.S. top-40 hits to Bollywood classics. The group doesn’t compete at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, but it takes the stage on campus and at Chicago-area gigs, as well as a cappella competitions for South Asian groups. 

Extreme Measures

Serving all gender identities, all NU schools and various backgrounds and interests, Extreme Measures prides itself on diversity. The group does not compete, but frequently performs shows around the area and records albums, which it has released on streaming platforms. 

Freshman Fifteen

As a group that consists neither of solely freshmen nor only 15 members, F15’s name may seem a bit misleading. Donning green bowling shirts emblazoned with personal nicknames, the group has performed both locally and globally, traveling to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, for example. 

Purple Haze

As one of three NU groups that compete at ICCAs, Purple Haze rehearses several times a week and performs a show every quarter. It has released nine studio albums and is currently working on its 10th. The group regularly performs in the Chicago area and goes on tours. 


Jewish group ShireiNU performs songs from a variety of genres such as Western pop, indie, alternative and Hebrew pop. The group performs a show each quarter, as well as gigs in Chicago and tours in the U.S. Anyone is welcome to join ShireiNU, regardless of religion. 

Significant Others

As the only group exclusively for women and nonbinary people, Significant Others is the closest NU has to the Barden Bellas. The group performs a show each quarter with a unique theme and tours the country as well. 


Soul4Real is NU’s premier Black a cappella group. Performing songs from historically Black genres like soul, hip-hop and R&B, the group most recently performed this past spring. In 2014, Soul4Real sang at the Holidays at the White House event. 

Tempo Tantrum 

Tempo Tantrum emphasizes voices on the lower range. It also does not compete in a cappella competitions. Those with low voices looking for a purely fun group should consider Tempo Tantrum. 


As Northwestern’s oldest a cappella group, THUNK performs two campus shows annually and takes other gigs across the Chicago area. The group has gained virtual recognition for the performances it posts on its YouTube channel, which has more than 157,000 subscribers. Every other winter, THUNK travels to Cape Town, South Africa, for music education volunteerism. 


NU’s only East Asian-interest a cappella group, Treblemakers is a coed, competitive a cappella group. The group performs songs in multiple languages, including Mandarin, Japanese and English. Treblemakers performs frequently at campus events and competes in ICCA. 


The Undertones is a competitive group founded in 2001. It most recently placed first at the 2022 ICCA Great Lakes Quarterfinals. It prides itself on high-level performances and also its tight-knit community. 


With a wealth of diversity in both performance material and the backgrounds of its members, X-Factors is a non-competing group that prides itself on individuality and passion. The group has released five CDs and recently performed at high schools and nursing homes in Southern California. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyHettleman 

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