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Campus Celebrities Jenna & Michael of the uOttawa GLEE Club

I had the great pleasure to meet with the co-presidents of the Glee Club at uOttawa, Michael Brannen and Jenna Khawas, who took time out of their busy schedules for an interview with Her Campus U Ottawa. Indeed, these two folks are, in my opinion, busier than our prime minister!

Michael is in his third year of biochemistry. He was part of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra, does research at uOttawa, volunteers with the uOttawa Heart Institute Student Foundation, and is part of the Broadway off Broadway club. You may have seen him as professor Quirrel in the show “A Very Potter Musical” last month. Jenna is also in her third year, but in biomedical sciences with a minor in health science. Jenna is a part of the iGEM synthetic biology club, will be starting research at the Cancer Center of the OHRI in the summer, and will be starring in a Musical Revue this spring. Most importantly, both Michael and Jenna are music lovers!

HC: As science students, why did you decide to create a Glee Club at uOttawa?

Jenna: We love to sing and perform. I had a Glee Club at my high school so when I came to university I wanted to recreate that experience here.

Michael: To add on what Jenna just said, we wanted a place to be creative and express ourselves musically.

HC: So, you do have musical training right?

Michael: We were in many bands in high school. We were “rock stars” (laugh) back in the days. No, seriously, I play guitar, piano and the French horn. Music runs through our veins.

Jenna: Total rock stars (laugh). I play so many instruments that I don’t know if I can remember all of them…I play the piano, the guitar, the ukulele, the saxophone, the clarinet, the flute. We both sing.

HC: Just out of curiosity, how long have you know each other?

Jenna: We met in first year of university. Stayed good friends since then…

HC: So, how did you two start this club?

Michael: We gathered some of our friends and started meeting up to sing songs. It was that simple.

HC: I think I am talking on behalf of many students when I say that I think this is one of the coolest clubs on camps. Why is it so secretive? Because not a lot of people know that this club exists.

Jenna: We don’t want to be secretive, it’s just that we are a new club from last year. Most of our members used to be friends in our faculty, so we didn’t get a whole lot of exposure like others clubs or associations on campus until this year!

HC: Do you have many theater students or music students involved?

Michael: No, that’s the funny thing. Several of our members are science students but we have a variety of other people in different programs.  

Jenna: One of my friends in the club is doing a minor in music, but her major is science.

HC: How many members do you have exactly?

Michael: There are about twenty-five singers that come to practice, divided into two groups.

Jenna: The club consists of mainly girls.  It would be great if we had more male voices in the club.

Michael: There are maybe five guys including myself. Our goal next year will probably be to try and find a way to get more boys to join.

HC: Now, that you mentioned it. How can we join? Do we need to audition or is anyone is free to come?

Jenna: No, there is no audition required. You just have to show up to one of the two practices and you are accepted.  Before you show up to practice, make sure to become a member on our Facebook group to get all the information for the upcoming meetings.

Michael: However, for next year I think we are going to create a competitive group where you will have to audition, but there will still be a general group free for everyone to participate.

HC: I have to ask this, do you guys participate in any show choirs?

Jenna & Michael: No! (Laugh)

Jenna: Well, I haven’t heard of any show choirs in Ottawa, but then again, we haven’t actively sought out any.

Michael: If we do hear about them in the future, our participation in them will depend on many factors as well.

HC: What do you do to get your talent out there?

Michael: We have our karaoke night once a month that is open to everyone. We also participate in coffeehouses and we are putting on our own coffeehouse this month. We are holding auditions for it soon.

Jenna: Recently, we did Glee on ice at the Rink of dreams. We have also done flash mobs and we have a YouTube channel.

HC: Do you dance?

Jenna: Nope, neither of us have choreography experience. We tend to put all our energy in arranging the music.

Michael: If we could find someone to do that for us, we wouldn’t say no.

Jenna: One thing that is important for people to know is that we are not really like the TV show. Yes, we are a Glee Club, but you can consider us to be more like a fun acapella group, like the group Pentatonix.  

HC: There isn’t a Rachel Berry or a Finn Hudson in the group then?

Jenna & Michael: No! (Laugh)

HC: How do the meetings work? Who gets the solo and who contributes ideas?

Jenna: Everyone can contribute ideas. We normally do one song per meeting, and sometimes they know it ahead of time so they can listen to it before practice. At the moment, we are doing a lot of pop music.

Michael: All songs are “acapella” and during the practice, either Jenna or I teach the different vocal parts for the arrangement that we prepared. We try to split up the solos to give everyone a chance but there is no pressure to do one if you don’t want to.

HC: Do you have a group name?

Jenna: We are currently brainstorming for another name.

HC: Final question, as a Glee fan what character is most like you?

Michael: Jenna is for sure Rachel Berry because of her talent minus the diva attitude. (Laugh)

Jenna: (Laugh) Wow, thanks! Yeah, I don’t identify with her in terms of personality. Honestly, I don’t know…

Michael: I guess I would be Mr. Schuester.

If you want more information on the uOttawa Glee Club or want to audition for their coffeehouse taking place on March 28th in the UCU, join their Facebook group. You can also show up to practice at Portable (behind Lamoureux Hall) on Friday at 2:30pm or 4:00pm. Please also subscribe to their YouTube channel. Later Gleeks!

Photo credits:

Glee Club uOttawa


Gloria Charles-Pierre is Her Campus uOttawa Alumni. She was one of our writers for four years and the French editor for two years. Gloria graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Arts specialized in French Lierature and two certificates in LSQ (Langue des Signes Québécoise). Now, she is in Teachers College and loving it. Gloria spends her time doing kick-boxing and working on her personnal writing project while growing in her faith. She hopes to travel more, and to continue her studies with a Masters in Education and also continue working in editing.
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