HomeFreshman Fifteen

School or Affiliation: Northwestern
Evanston, IL
UNITED STATES

Freshman Fifteen

Chris Wong and Jeff Jaeger were freshmen at Northwestern University in the autumn of 1998. The two men had very little in common: Jeff was majoring in Psychology, Chris in Computer Engineering. Jeff hailed from Fargo, North Dakota while Chris came from San Diego, California. Jeff was tall, pale, and white. Chris was short, brown, and Asian. But two vital attributes brought this odd couple together: they both loved to sing, and they were both rejected by every Northwestern a cappella group they auditioned for.

Disappointed though not defeated, the two singers decided to create a group of their own. They enlisted six other male vocalists, held an introductory rehearsal in MAB, and called themselves the Freshman Fifteen. They were not all freshmen. Neither were there fifteen members. And yet, the name struck a chord in their hearts. It would soon resonate far beyond the thin walls of that small practice room.

The next few months were filled with energy, building camaraderie and hard work, as F15 struggled to gather a musical repertoire, learn songs and develop a group dynamic.

The new millennium came and it brought a milestone in F15 history: the group's first show in a Northwestern performance space. Sharing the billing with fellow all-male vocal group Five Minutes of Fame, the Freshman Fifteen performed "Just F'in Around" in the Jones Great Room in the Spring of 2001. The show introduced Northwestern audiences to F15's smooth sounds with songs like "Every Morning," "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Just a Gigolo". Students also caught a glimpse of their trademark sense of humor in Matty's Kermit the Frog impression and the infamous Bowling Skit. The success of the show boosted the fledgling group's confidence in its own talent and ability. Little did they know, it was just the beginning...

In the Fall of 2001, Freshman Fifteen performed at A Cappella Fest in Cahn Auditorium. They sang "New Age Girl" and "Every Morning" to an excited and impressed batch of freshmen. Several days later, they had narrowed their pool of auditioners down to five freshmen: a bass, a baritone, a lead and two tenors. The new group began to gel and grow as each quarter brought new challenges and successes. In October, the group went on its first road trip to see the Indiana Hoosiers demolish the Northwestern Wildcats and came home with a collection of unique nicknames.

Winter brought another road trip, this time to the group's first competition at ICCA in Springfield, Missouri. F15 ended Winter quarter in a co-headlining show with NU a cappella mainstay Purple Haze. The show, "NorthWest Side Story," brought down the house at Lutkin Hall and sparked a campus-wide buzz about F15. Finally, in the Spring of 2002 - the penultimate weeks of its cofounders' college careers - Freshman Fifteen performed in their first headlining show, "This Is Freshman Fifteen." The group brought a never-before-seen mixture of music, live skits, and comedic film to Annie May Swift auditorium; the show was applauded by enthusiastic audiences. The new hotness, as they called it, had arrived.

Since their headlining debut, the Freshman Fifteen has released three CDs - "New Hotness" in 2003, "Pants Down" in 2004, and "Game Time" in 2006. They have performed throughout the Midwest alongside some of the regions most respected a cappella groups, including another ICCA appearance and are always striving to break new grounds in the A Cappella World. From what began as a tiny crew of ambitious dreamers has grown into Northwestern's most entertaining and musically fulfilling all-male a cappella group. Throughout it all, the men themselves remain true to the ideals their founding fathers set in place nearly a decade ago - just love it. Because they know it is only with this jovial, yet practical mentality that they can eventually conquer the universe.

The moment had come. The new hotness had come.

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