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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Singing to bring awareness to social issues


In Swaram A Capella’s Spring 2017 Showcase business junior Akshara Parashar performed “Duaa,” a Hindi song.

Award-winning a cappella group Swaram fuses South Asian and Western cultural influences to create sets that focus on social issues.
Swaram A Cappella won first place at the All-American Awaaz competition in April 2017 and 2018 and placed second in the University of California, Berkley’s Anahat competition in December. Their next competition is March 9 in Dallas.
During competitions, the group shows a short video of them performing a skit before their live performance. Their set focused on domestic abuse in 2017 and substance abuse in 2018. Swaram president and biomedical engineering sophomore Jones Kalarickal said the group’s focus on these issues sets them apart from other teams.
“Swaram is kind of unique in that they were the first team to start doing sort of a PSA, like a serious theme,” Kalarickal said. “Usually, teams don’t do themes, but if they do, it’s like a love story or something.”
In addition to competing, Swaram has performed at the MSC and for several philanthropy groups, including Project 365. Their next performance is at Acappellooza on March 2 in Rudder Auditorium.
Swaram vice president and finance sophomore Ammu George said they want to add meaning to their music by sending a message that their audience can relate to.
“We try to focus on what issues college students go through, so things like domestic violence and substance abuse are really common issues, not just on our campus, but colleges worldwide,” George said. “Instead of picking songs that we hear on the radio or songs that everyone likes to hear, we think about a message we want to share, and then we build our songs and our set around that message.”
In high school, George was in show choir but had to quit during her senior year to focus on her academic work.
“As soon as I came to college, I wanted to join an a cappella group or a show choir,” George said. “When I first saw Swaram, I just thought it was really cool that they fused two different cultures together, and being someone that comes from Indian culture, I want to be able to share that.”
Swaram music director and computer engineering senior Annie Blakeslee was in Century Singers during her first semester at Texas A&M before deciding to join Swaram. Blakeslee said she was encouraged to join by a friend who was also in Century Singers.
“I loved the big choir feel of Century Singers, but I wanted something smaller where I made more of a difference,” Blakeslee said. “I auditioned for multiple a cappella groups on campus, but I felt very welcomed by Swaram. I felt like I was at home when I stepped into the audition room.”
George said that while the group performs South Asian music, the members are a diverse crowd of students.
“The cool thing about Swaram is that we’re such a diverse group,” George said. “Everyone is a different major, we have so many ethnic backgrounds on our team. I always thought it was really cool that everyone is so drawn to being a part of this fusion of two different cultures.”

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