X-Factors provides a home on campus for its members, vibrant music for its audiences


Daily file illustration by Emma Ruck

Music is extremely important to the X-Factors, but they equally prioritize having a welcoming community, according to Eli Blanks.

Cassandra Ratkevich and Danny O’Grady

Northwestern’s all-pink coed a cappella group, X-Factors, is home to a unique group of students passionate about music. 

The X-Factors was formed in 2001 by a small group of students to “produce amazing music while maintaining the individuality of each member,” according to the group’s website. 

“In X-Factors, we have anything from theater to biomedical engineering to cog-sci (and) history (majors),” said Communication sophomore and X-Factors President Abraham Deitz-Green. 

The group currently has 19 members, including about 4 to 5 students from each school year. Like other NU a capella groups, X-Factors holds auditions in late September, encouraging all students of any year or a capella experience level to try out.  

During auditions this year, Communication freshman Julia Polster said she was drawn to the group’s personality. 

“They were super exciting and welcoming and just really nice people who didn’t take themselves too seriously,” Polster said.

Although three two-hour practices per week and multiple performances per quarter could create a stressful environment, Communication sophomore and Music Director Eli Blanks said the group has a relaxed atmosphere. 

Blanks said he was drawn to X-Factor’s down-to-earth nature. 

“It felt like they were the perfect combination of making good music but also having a lot of fun,” he said.

Blanks also said X-Factors felt like one of the few music groups without a heavy theatre influence that instead includes all types of people.

Deitz-Green said the group typically ends up singing a combination of music genres because of the unique way in which the group chooses its songs. 

Unlike other a cappella groups on campus, each X-Factors member is guaranteed one solo per year, Deitz-Green said. When it’s a member’s turn to be a soloist, they present the group with three songs they “really love to sing” that match the group’s style, according to Deitz-Green. The soloist and the group then decide which song would be best to perform in concert. 

The X-Factors have kept busy this quarter performing at Rock the Lake at the Norris University Center and at Acapalooza durning Family Weekend. On Sunday, they sang at Steam Heat Dance Company’s Holiday Cabaret with other NU a capella groups and will return to performances on Dec. 2 and 3 for its “mid gala”-themed winter concert in Seabury Hall at 10 p.m.

Over winter break, the X-Factors will go on its annual group trip to a different U.S. state. The group usually stays at a group member’s house who can accommodate it. 

Last year, the group traveled to San Francisco, where they gave local performances, took day trips and workshopped a song with a local high school music class.

“Living with this group of people for a few days really brought us together, and I felt like on that tour is where I felt like I made a lot of my closest connections,” Blanks said. 

The group is heading to Houston this year, where it will sing at schools, community organizations and other venues. Even through all its work, the X-Factors will still focus on having fun and team bonding, Deitz-Green said.

Despite diverse backgrounds and academic pursuits, the X-Factors is a community of students who care deeply for one another in addition to their love for singing, according to Blanks. Polster agreed, saying she absolutely plans on staying with the group for the next four years.

“The group as a whole is one of the places I think of as my home on campus,” Blanks said. 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @CassandraRatke1

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @DannyMOGrady04

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