Katie LaVoie is a recent music industry graduate. She is a founder and the former president of the Drexel Cleftomaniacs.
The Triangle: When and why did you join the Cleftomaniacs?
Katie LaVoie: In early 2012, another choir student [Tehilah Tielebein, a physics major,] and I decided that it didn’t seem right to have an all-male and an all-female a cappella group, but not have a co-ed group. We worked together to found the Cleftomaniacs so that we could fill that gap. In November 2012, we became officially recognized as a new student organization at Drexel!
TT: When did you become president?
KL: I was elected president for the first two years of the Cleftomaniacs’ existence, my junior and senior years at Drexel. I am succeeded in this role by Amber Davis, who joined the group right after it was founded.
TT: What is your favorite part of being in this group?
KL: I love the sense of camaraderie in the Cleftomaniacs. Because we rehearse together twice a week and many of us are also in University Chorus, we see each other a lot, which has allowed us to really get to know one another well. The Cleftos are some of my closest friends and I regard them as my family.
TT: What is the most interesting/funny moment you recall while with this group?
KL: We recorded an album this year and the funniest thing was going through the outtakes. We were all laughing so hard we were nearly crying. There were over 30 minutes of various members of the group screwing up notes, shouting at the sound guy to stop the recording and conversations accidentally recorded. Once, we even recorded the hold music when we were placing a lunch order at Chipotle.
TT: What is the dynamic within the group?
KL: We’re all very close. With some groups of people, you feel like you have to act a certain way so that you’ll seem cooler or so you don’t hurt someone’s feelings. But with the Cleftos, we all respect each other for exactly who we are so we can kick back and have a good time no matter the occasion.
TT: What makes the Cleftomaniacs different from other Drexel a cappella groups?
KL: Well, the obvious thing is that we have both guys and girls as members. The less obvious thing is that I think the Cleftomaniacs started building a sense of community in the a cappella scene. Before, the a cappella groups seemed like two separate entities. Now, I’ve noticed over the past two years the space separating them is growing smaller. As new members join, they connect more and more with the other groups so we’re becoming more like one big a ca-family.
TT: What brought you to Drexel?
KL: This is always a fun question to answer. I honestly picked Drexel randomly. I was initially going to study engineering, unrelated to why I chose Drexel, but then I decided last minute that I wanted to do something with music. So, I picked a couple of random schools around the country that had a music industry program, and Drexel is where I ended up.
TT: Do you like living in the city? Why or why not?
KL: I do. I’m from Wichita originally and, while it’s the biggest city in Kansas, it still isn’t anything like Philadelphia. I hadn’t traveled much during my childhood, so I wanted to get out and see the world more. Philly definitely expanded my view of the world.
TT: If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
KL: I would wish formore money, not just for myself but so that I can help out my family and friends more; everybody to be more accepting of others and to treat each other well; and less inhibitions that hold me back from doing the things I want to do.
TT: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
KL: Egypt. … I was obsessed with ancient Egypt as a kid, so it would be really cool to see the pyramids. Plus, it’s not a very common travel destination. And who wants to be ordinary?
TT: Finish the sentence: The best part of Drexel is …
KL: … how small and close-knit it feels, despite the huge student population.
Triangle Talks is a weekly column that highlights members of the Drexel community.