Student Stories

Sing it Loud: Voices in Your Head

Name: Voices in Your Head

Genre: “A unique mix” of genres including pop, rock, and alternative music

Established: 1998

President: Ire Olagbami

Where they can be heard: Practicing in Logan, Ida Noyes Hall, or Bartlett Arts Rehearsal Space. Also on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, and YouTube.

Most Memorable Arrangement: For Listening: “Holding On” For Singing: “Hallelujah”

Voices in Your Head began nearly 20 years ago when a small group of aspiring vocalists—rejected from other UChicago a cappella groups—came together to form their own.

“It was born of rejects,” said Ire Olagbami, a fourth-year music major and the current president of Voices.

After 20 years, Voices has gone from being laid-back and little-known to a staple of the campus a cappella scene, going to the ICCA finals three times in the last five years and coming in second place in 2015 and 2017. In addition to performing at UChicago several times a year, Voices has also performed at colleges all over the country. They’ve produced several albums, the most recent of which, Lights, won the Contemporary A Cappella Recording (CARA) Award for Best Mixed Collegiate Album.

“We're just another group of students who like to create art, and UChicago gives us space to do that,” Olagbami said. Will Cabaniss, a fourth year and the music director of Voices, said that this comes in the form from the resources that the University offer to students.

“We're given all of these resources and given all of these people that are really on our team,” he said. “They care about what we do, they want to see us succeed and they're willing to put in a whole bunch of work to help us make that happen.”

Reinterpretation and reinvention are a big part of Voice’s sound, because they try to break away from the collegiate a cappella tradition of performing true to original renditions of songs. Their arrangements sometimes completely turn a song upside down, often mixing elements of multiple genres into one song.

“We try to turn every arrangement that we do into a unique experience that's separate from the original,” Olagbami said.

On stage, members of Voice in Your Head look like a blur of colors, wearing colorful tights and ties to accent the rest of their all black outfits. Their tights and ties span the full rainbow. This effect reflects the way that Voices works to bring together individual talent.

“The musical philosophy of the group [is] geared around making use of every single person in the group to make this whole that's greater than the sum of its parts,” said Cabaniss.

Many other members of the group see Voices as a major part of their lives and a way to take a break from academics. Speaking to the close-knit nature of the group, alumni often stay involved with the group post-graduation. Whenever Voices performs “Hallelujah,” their alumni song, former members of the group will join them, sometimes even those who graduated from the College more than 10 years ago.

For Olagbami, the connection with Voices started during her audition. In an experience that she called educational, she was called back to audition with them a second time and spent six hours singing with the group. she knew that she had to be a part of the group.

“In my heart, [I] knew that I had to be in this group, I had to be with these people,” Olagbami said. “I felt like I grew as a musician, just from singing with them.

“There is something about Voices that is lasting and has impacted everyone who has been through it in some way or another. I'm just really thankful to be part of that experience, to be able to serve it and to grow it,” she added.

The group is now preparing for the future by training the youngest members of the group so they can run it one day. For this year, Voices plans to embark on two new recording projects: a recording of their 2017 ICCA set, and a 20th anniversary compilation album.  

As for the future of Voices, Olagbami said that they aren’t sure exactly what it’ll look like. But, she added,“whatever it is, I know that there's going to be a standard of excellence and of really, really good music that comes with it.”

Take a peek into one of their rehearsals and check out their ICCA set below: