HomeGuided by voices: A cappella music grows beyond campus borders

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The growing line to get inside the main theater for Friday’s sold-out show of The New American Shakespeare Tavern’s “The Canterbury Tales” wasn’t moving, leaving the large group of theatergoers packed into the tiny upper lobby an unintentionally rapt audience.

Just beyond the large wooden front doors, Out of the Blue, one of Yale University’s many student a cappella groups, was clustered inches away from the crowd for an on-the-spot, pre-show performance, beat-boxing and multi-harmonizing its way through a set list of pop and indie-rock standards.

Although it wasn’t what patrons were expecting to see and hear walking in off Peachtree Street, by the time the perky 15-member group got to its rendition of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights,” nervous laughter and cheeky inside smirks between couples gave way to an undeniable abandon of toe-tapping and grinning applause.

The repertoire may have outgrown old-timey barbershop staples, but with names like the Decibelles, VoiceMale and Nothin’ But Treble, collegiate a cappella is to coolness what encyclopedic “Star Trek” knowledge is to an active dating life.

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