Arts & CultureMusic

Michael Franti recognizes UO a capella group’s cover of ’11:59′

Raking in 3,000 YouTube views in just twelve hours on a song cover, or any video, for that matter, is an impressive feat, but having that cover reach the original artist is an entirely different triumph in itself.

Both were achievements that the University of Oregon’s all-female a cappella group Divisi accomplished with their recently released music video, “11:59,” a song originally performed by Michael Franti & Spearhead. Now, only a week after its release, the video has already gained over 5,000 views with the count still climbing.

The day it was uploaded, Franti recognized Divisi’s cover on his Facebook page.

“As musicians I think one of the most surreal and humbling moments is when you hear people sing the lyrics to your songs,” he wrote. “You sit back in awe knowing that each person has developed their own relationship to the words that goes deeper than you could’ve ever imagined when you wrote them … and then sometimes something like this video comes along and you get to sit back and simply rock out!”

“It’s been very humbling,” said Hayley Valoppi, a recent UO music school graduate and Divisi member, about Franti posting the cover to his Facebook page.

Divisi, an Italian musical term meaning divided parts in harmony, began singing together in 2001, but didn’t officially perform under that name until 2002. Depending on the school year, the group typically consists of 11-14 women.

“The group changes every year [and] each individual makes it something new” said Valoppi, who played multiple roles in Divisi over the years such as music director, business manager, recording manager and treasurer. This past year was Valoppi’s fourth in the group and she is, like other members, very excited about the music video’s positive reception.

This most recent year Divisi members also included Kelsey Pargeter, a cinema studies junior at the UO and Caitlin Byers, a senior in the School of Journalism and Communication.

The video, directed by Brad Burke and Green Studio Productions, is the group’s first and takes place in various familiar locations around Eugene.

“When we were talking about ideas it definitely came down to having a day in the life of Eugene,” a feature that has gotten many positive comments on YouTube said Pargeter, Divisi’s business manager and choreographer.

“The music video was very time consuming,” said Byers, the group’s music director. “We all had to get up at 5 a.m. and head out to Skinner’s Butte and start filming there. It was a long day but very fun and rewarding and it turned out just how we wanted it.”

The positive exposure from the music video is just what Divisi has been looking for while growing as an a cappella group. About to move into the next school year, the group is already thinking about reaching upcoming goals like competing in the ICCAs (International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella).

“We’ve actually been talking about it since the middle of May … but we don’t actually audition for the ICCAs until mid-October,” said Byers. “It’s pretty much straight from the very beginning of the year that you buckle down and start working on that.”

If the ICCAs sound familiar, it may be because the competition was popularized by the movie Pitch Perfect, although the whole process is definitely not the same on the big screen as it is in real life.

Along with the excitement of the upcoming ICCAs, Divisi is also in the second round of auditions to potentially be featured on a television show called Sing It On.

No matter the large, recent accomplishments, the success has not gone to heads of the group’s members. Divisi continues to overcome preconceived notions of what it means to be a group of women a cappella singers.

“There are stereotypes that come with being in an all-female group, like female groups can’t be as powerful or big sounding,” said Valoppi. “That’s something Divisi strives to overcome and I think that’s something Divisi has always succeeded in — having that full, mature sound even though we’re ‘just a bunch of ladies.’”

“11:59” is a cut from Divisi’s newest album Shots Fired which is available on iTunes and Spotify.

Watch the music video here:



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Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell is the Digital Managing Editor for The Daily Emerald. She is currently studying journalism and philosophy at the University of Oregon. Before her current position, she worked as an Arts and Culture writer for the Emerald. She's also worked with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Eugene Weekly, Ethos Magazine and OR Magazine.