They are most famously known as the first and only all female a cappella group at UC Davis. They are also the hosts of the popular a cappella production, HELLACAPELLA (pronounced as hell-a -ca-pell-a: 5 syllables).
You may, however, just know them as the group of women with killer dance moves and impeccable tastes in style who enjoy sharing their beautiful voices with their fellow peers.
They are: The Spokes.
Established in 2004 by two members of the Liquid Hotplates (a coed a cappella group at UCD), The Spokes have become a full-fledged a cappella production, consisting today of thirteen members, four of whom were chosen last Fall after a rigorous audition process.
“Oh my god, it was so scary,” said Rachel Riley, one of the newest Spokes, about her audition. “But [The Spokes] were the nicest people to audition for. When I walked into the room, I felt like I was immediately vibing with all of the girls.”
Emily Korwin, 3rd year Vice President for The Spokes, noted, “We ask them silly questions, like ‘If you could be any condiment, what would you be?’” "It helps create less tension and brings out their quirkiness so we get a vibe for their personality,” explained Sara Lichti, the Spokes’ 2nd year Social Chair.
The Spokes’ audition comes in two parts. At the first audition, the girls are tested purely on their vocal capabilities. On average, only about 8 to 15 girls out of the 100 that auditioned are called back.
“We have to be picky,” said Emily Randall, a 4th year Spokes’ elder. “Some girls aren’t chosen not because their voices aren’t great, but because we need people who also have experience in areas like sight reading.”
While the first cut is based on vocal capabilities, the second one looks to see how well they mesh with the group. From singing with actual members of the group to playing get-to-know-you games, the threshold that determines whether the girls are granted the honor of becoming a Spoke is ultimately personality.
These women not only have at least two 2 hour rehearsals a week, but they also spend a lot of time together outside of practices, going on retreats out of town, and traveling to performances.
Just recently, The Spokes came back from the California A Cappella Festival (CAF) in UCLA, representing UCD as one California’s best a cappella groups among 13 other performers. They also took the opportunity to have some fun at Disneyland.
Another major event The Spokes not only perform at, but host as well, is Hellacapella. Their most anticipated event of the year, The Spokes begin preparations for the next one as soon as it’s over. This year the show hosted 9 different groups, including a cappella groups from Oregon and England. Hellacapella has become so popular that two years ago it sold out Freeborn Hall, and this year’s event saw over 2,000 fans. The Spokes hope to perform in the Mondavi Center next year. It will only be able to hold 1,800 attendees, so make sure you buy your Hellacapella 2013 tickets in advance!
The Spokes are currently working on their 6th untitled album (potential album names include “Get Spoked” or “Davis Has Spoken”), which is set to be released Fall 2012. The CD will have songs that cover various genres and time periods that cater to everyone’s musical interests, contrasting poppy belty songs from Adele, with bluesy rock like The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army.’ Fans can anticipate really cool mashups that bring Christina Aguilera and the Star Wars soundtrack together, and will hear Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ make an appearance in Shakira’s ‘She Wolf.’
Through the preparations for the album, every member is given the opportunity to contribute their own ideas and styles to the arranging process, building on top of each other’s ideas and always willing to hear new ideas.
The perks of being a Spoke isn’t limited to traveling to faraway places, performing in front of adoring crowds, meeting cute singers with British accents, and knowing you’re among an elite group of vocally talented and creative individuals who are the first to bring the party to the dance floor. Ultimately, what makes The Spokes so successful and unique is the experience of building strong friendships with amazing women who become family.
The group is full of strong morale, love, and dedicated individuals who are always ready to support one another. Their journeys together create stories that begin with, “Remember that one time the police came?” and they’re able to share the memory of the time when an auditionee answered the “If you could be any condiment” question with “I think I’d be a Trojan.”
As Camille Martinez, a 4th year Spoke and Co-Treasurer/Publicity chair, stated, “We’re not just strong personalities, we’re really just strong women in general. We’re ambitious and we’re passionate about music. And we all have other things going on in our lives -- sororities, internships, full-time jobs -- but at the end of the day, we see each one of us step up and give 110% into group. It’s inspiring to be around people who want to put their best foot out into the world and succeed at everything that they do, not just with school or work or music, but our friendships and relationships. You don’t really find this strength a lot, so we’re lucky to have that dynamic in The Spokes, because it drives everyone to be successful.”
To stay updated with The Spokes and their future performances, check out their facebook page and website! Also, be sure to catch The Spokes singing on the Quad every Tuesday at noon!