UA’s Nuance is Creating a Brotherhood Through Singing

For members of this a capella group, with a Christmas show coming up Dec. 2, success has been achieved through the friendships made rather than a quest for perfection.


Alexis Raineri

Nuance practicing for their Dec. 2 holiday show.

By Alexis Raineri, Contributor

When Pitch Perfect came to theaters in 2012, a capella was high in demand. Ten years later, however, the number of men in Nuance, the all-male a capella group at the University of Akron, has dropped down to ten. Like many organizations post-pandemic, it will take time to rebuild.

Despite this, Nuance is more focused on the brotherhood that they have created than the amount of people they recruit to their organization.

“It’s a big commitment,” Spencer Frase, president of Nuance, said, “but you don’t do it to boost your resume. You do it because you like singing and then you develop a relationship with these guys.”

Founded in 2004 by Jesse Lange, a former transfer student from Michigan State University, Nuance has become one of the longest standing and, by member accounts, most successful student organizations at the University of Akron. Run by both director and president, Nuance’s mission is to provide quality music to students, the Akron community, and beyond.

Every year, the president and director of Nuance are nominated and voted for by other members of the a capella group. The president works on the administrative duties and the director works on the music arrangements. Rather than allow the president and director to make the decisions for Nuance, everyone gets to be a part of a democracy by participating and voicing their thoughts. One such case is their annual retreat. Every year, members of Nuance coordinate a day where they can all spend time building their friendship and singing.

Album Cover for Nuance’s Bring Your Own Eggnog. (Courtesy UA Nuance.)

Frase still remembers the enjoyment of his first retreat when he joined in the fall of 2019, where he and other members traveled to Minerva, Ohio to drive around on four-wheelers, play video games, and sing. It is tradition, and there are many more that they follow as a part of Nuance.

When auditioning, a solo and joke is a requirement to get a “vibe check,” according to Frase. Nuance includes these to get a better understanding of the auditionee’s personality as well as their singing abilities. It is important for members to see how well this person will fit into Nuance, which may be the reason it is difficult for them to find members.

However, once someone is recruited into Nuance, their legacy is kept alive with a simple item of clothing: sweatshirts. Nicknames are unique and inscribed on the back of each sweasthirt, a piece of Nuance that each member gets to carry with them even when they graduate.

“My nickname is ‘Little Drummer Boy’ because I’m a percussionist and I’m a very little person,” Tyler Blackburn, a third semester Nuance member, said. “We all sit down and think about the encounters we’ve had with each member and decide what we can use to relate to him.”

The money that Nuance raises during their concerts goes towards these sweatshirts, as well as suits, travel funds and EPs. As the first organization to record an Extended Play (EP) at the University of Akron titled “The Premier,” Nuance has moved on to release three other albums: “Bring Your Own Eggnog,” “New Suit” and “Tailor-Made.” They can be purchased, along with other merchandise at Nuance’s online store.

Poster from the UA Nuance Facebook page.
Courtesy of UA Nuance on Instagram.

Nuance works alongside several people to edit and mix their albums with the goal of increasing their fanbase of listeners, but also to give current members and alumni a piece of their history. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nuance hasn’t been able to host their concert celebrating the senior members. They have addressed this problem by working on another EP, which they’re hoping to release in the spring of 2023 before their seniors graduate.

Four members of Nuance are graduating this semester which would bring the number of Nuance members down to six; while there is a possibility that attrition may lead to an early retirement of Nuance, Frase and other members of Nuance hope that they will be able to continue bringing men together to sing and enjoy each other’s company.

“When the group depends on you to get everything correct, it can be stressful,” Nathan Keenan, director of Nuance, said, “but being a part of this group has allowed me to make some of the best and most stable friends in college.”

Nuance is preparing for their most popular event, “A Nuance Christmas” on December 2, 2022 at the Akron Public Library. The concert begins at 7 p.m. and will be full of holiday music and well-known pop songs. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for general admission, and can be purchased here.

Wondering if you might be part of the Nuance’s next chapter?

For more information about joining, send questions to their Facebook page or by e-mail at [email protected].