Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Misdemeanor charges dropped against NU faculty for activity during pro-Palestinian encampment
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Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

June 13, 2024


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The aca-demic handbook: Your guide to NU’s 12 a cappella groups

Illustration by Madison Bratley
A brief introduction to NU’s 12 a cappella groups.

For incoming Wildcats, joining an a cappella ensemble can be a great way to start the year on  a high note. But with fall auditions taking place the second week of the school year and so many groups to choose from, you might have ‘treble’ deciding which one to join. 

So, here’s a brief introduction to NU’s 12 a cappella groups! With so much variety in their goals, competitiveness and song choice, one is sure to strike the right chord with you. 


The only all-male group on campus, Asterik — spelt with a missing “S” — is described on their website as “a group of guys who love to sing and have a good time.” This non-competitive group stages a themed show every quarter and regularly collaborates with other groups, including Significant Others. Known for their “fratty” vibe, Asterik’s previous show themes include “Rizzosaurus Rex” and “Too Hot to Handle.” 

Brown Sugar 

Brown Sugar is Northwestern’s premiere South Asian-interest a cappella group. The group specializes in blending Western and South Asian music in their arrangements , such as a mashup of Taylor Swift’s “willow” and Roop Kumar Rathod’s “Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai.” Brown Sugar does not compete, but puts on shows in Winter and Spring Quarters and at other NU events. 

Extreme Measures 

Extreme Measures is a co-ed group that stages multiple performances per quarter. While they do not compete, they often tour the Chicago area and beyond to perform at charity and fundraising events. EM’s latest EP, “Denim,” will be released on streaming platforms this summer. 

Freshman Fifteen

Despite what their name might suggest, Freshman Fifteen consists of more than 15 members, and they’re not all freshmen. The green bowling shirt-clad ensemble has quarterly concerts, occasionally releases albums and arranges annual “breakdown” medleys of popular songs of the year. Formerly an all-male group, they opened up auditions to non-male identifying students in 2021. 

Purple Haze

One of NU’s three competitive a cappella groups, Purple Haze participates biannually in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, most recently taking home awards for Best Soloist and Best Choreography in 2023. The group also puts on quarterly concerts and tours annually, with plans to go to Costa Rica this year.


ShireiNU is NU’s Jewish a cappella group, and sings a variety of musical genres, including Hebrew pop. ShireiNU does not compete, but holds quarterly shows and performs at both on- and off-campus events, including a Chicago Bulls game this April. 

Significant Others

NU’s only a cappella group exclusively for female and nonbinary voices, Significant Others performs pop music in quarterly themed shows and does not compete. 


The only Black student a cappella group on campus, Soul4Real’s mission is to expose the NU community to historically Black musical genres, such as R&B and soul. They have concerts during Winter and Spring Quarter and do not compete. 

The Undertones 

Another competitive group, the Undertones won the 2022 ICCA Great Lakes quarterfinal, where they were also given Special Awards for Outstanding Soloist, Outstanding Arrangement and Outstanding Choreography.  The group also performs in on-campus shows, gigs around the Chicago area and on annual domestic or international tours. 


Founded in 1993, THUNK is NU’s oldest co-ed a cappella group. The group holds at least two concerts a quarter, performs at special events in the Chicago area and travels to Cape Town, South Africa every other year for music education volunteer work. 


Treblemakers are NU’s East Asian-interest a cappella group and the third group that competes in the ICCAs. The group has quarterly concerts and went on tour in California this spring. They perform music in multiple languages, including English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and Tagalog. 


This non-competing, co-ed group is known for wearing pink at every performance and guaranteeing each member a solo every year. X-Factors put on multiple shows every quarter and occasionally tour domestically to perform and run workshops at high schools. 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: joyycee_li

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Northwestern acapella group Brown Sugar provides an outlet for cultural expression, creative experimentation

The Northwestern Undertones use art and music to connect as a family

Treblemakers uplift East Asian musical excellence, community

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