Bulldogs of Butler: Freshly Brewed A Cappella

Freshly Brewed performing at the 2023 Polar Plunge. Photo by Lauren Gdowski. 

GWEN PAVICH | STAFF REPORTER | gpavich@butler.edu

Members of the Butler community are achieving extraordinary things, both on and off campus. From first-years to alumni to administrators and back, each Bulldog has a story to tell. Read on to discover the next of our Bulldogs of Butler through a Q&A style interview. 

Natalie Virgil, a first-year psychology major; Sophie Mullinix, a senior biochemistry major; and Rebecca Kural, a sophomore music industry studies major, are all current members of the Freshly Brewed A Cappella group at Butler. A cappella is when a person or a group of people sing without any accompaniment. Before the group’s upcoming spring concert, these members spoke to The Butler Collegian to explain what Freshly Brewed is all about and why they like being a part of it. 

THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: Can you give a brief explanation of what Freshly Brewed is? 

NATALIE VIRGIL: Freshly Brewed is the upper voices a cappella group on Butler’s campus. [It is] a student-run organization, so all of the music we perform is student written and taught. All of the financial stuff is [also] done by students. 

TBC: What made you decide to audition for Freshly Brewed? 

SOPHIE MULLINIX: I actually knew somebody that was in Freshly Brewed who was a year older than me and who I had known since I was 4 years old. 

I have always loved singing [as well]. I did choir for as long as I could, I did theatre [and] musicals, and I was in a girl’s quartet at one point. I needed an outlet to continue this passion because otherwise, I think I would have gone insane or driven my roommates insane from just singing. [I realized that Freshly Brewed] is something that I haven’t done anything like before. I really [wanted] to have an amazing group of girls that I can just sing with and really continue to enjoy everything that comes with singing. 

REBECCA KURAL: I had done a cappella in high school. It wasn’t as rigorous as the one here, but I was really interested in just being in as much singing stuff as possible [while in college]. I’m classically trained, and I still take my voice lessons through [Butler], so I’m always looking for a contemporary outlet. I felt like a cappella was a good place to go for that. 

TBC: Why do you enjoy being a part of this group? 

RK: I think that we build a really great team dynamic. Not only are we making really good music, but we all are friends, and we build up each other and really support each other. I just really enjoy the dynamic [of] rehearsals. 

I really liked singing contemporary music as well, so I think that it’s a creative outlet, and we have a lot of freedom in what we choose to do [since] it’s all student-run. Technically we have a faculty advisor, but all the rehearsals are just us, so I think it’s the freedom of it [that I enjoy]. 

NV: I love the friendships that we have. It’s always interesting coming into a group and not knowing anyone, and then being able to connect over something that you all have in common. And for us, that’s music. Getting to see everyone’s experience and talents within the group and utilizing those within our leadership teams and everything we do has just been so great. It’s awesome that we get along too because it makes things even more fun. 

TBC: Is the group open to students outside of [Jordan College of the Arts]? 

NV: Yes, absolutely. [Freshly Brewed is] open to all students. We do hope that there’s some musical background, just because we do learn music at a quick pace. But if you can kind of read music, we’ll take you. 

TBC: How big of a time commitment is Freshly Brewed? 

SM: [Freshly Brewed has] a two-and-a-half-hour rehearsal two days a week, and [it is] expected [for members] to practice outside of rehearsal. Depending on the person and depending on how easily [they] pick up music, [it] can take a different amount of time [to rehearse]. Plus, we have gigs sometimes, and those are always so fun. We [also] have a concert once a semester. 

It’s important to be able to [multitask with other] time commitments. [For example, Freshly Brewed member] Lindy Howard is also going to be the president of Butler University Dance Marathon, and she was [on the leadership team for BUDM this past year]. She is able to manage all of that and so many other things very well. It’s definitely a time commitment, but so many of us are involved in tons of other things. 

TBC: Do you feel like Freshly Brewed receives a lot of attention from other students and faculty? 

RK: I think that because there are only two a cappella groups on campus, we receive a decent amount of visibility, which is nice. I know a lot of colleges have a lot of a cappella groups, which would be really cool [to have more on campus] just because I think that it would be really cool to have a mixed voice a cappella group on campus, or upper and lower [voices] altogether. But at the same time, it is kind of nice because I think we do receive pretty good visibility on campus since we are the only upper voice group. 

NV: When I was an incoming student, Freshly Brewed was one of the first groups that I found out about [through] my tour guide. Because of that, I was always really drawn to it. I think that a lot of students and faculty have heard of us but don’t know exactly who we are, what we do and how we’re different from other performing arts groups that are a part of JCA. 

TBC: Has Freshly Brewed ever done performances with Out of the Dawg House, Butler’s lower voices a cappella group? 

NV: Yes, actually. At all of our concerts, Out of the Dawg House opens for us, and we’ll open for their concerts, and then we try to do some sort of combined piece at least once a year. If we can [both perform at] our fall and spring concerts, it’s awesome. This year, [OOTDH] has its 20th anniversary [performance on April 21]. It’s just always super fun [to perform with them]. 

TBC: What are some events and activities the group does throughout the school year? What has been your favorite so far? 

SM: An event that is most memorable to me [happened during] my first year here. Freshly Brewed was singing the national anthem for the “changing of the collar” ceremony when Blue [became] the official mascot and Trip was retiring. It was a [great experience] because the “changing of the collar” was a huge deal and there was just so much excitement in the air. It was phenomenal to just say that we were a part of that moment. I really love doing pretty much any national anthem [performance] because for us it’s really easy and sounds really impressive. It’s a really good way to show our group off. 

In the past, we have done something [with campus organizations such as] College Mentors for Kids and BUDM. And we’ve even had some stuff outside of campus life. This past winter, one of the founding members of Freshly Brewed was having a Christmas party with her husband and [wanted Freshly Brewed to come and perform]. We went and performed six songs for them [which] was a really cool and fun experience. It felt like we were out there in the real world, and we felt very fancy. It was so wonderful to see that there’s still that connection all the way back. 

RK: We sang at Butler Blue Scholars’ Day for some of the parents and committed students. We also sang at a women’s basketball game and a men’s basketball game [this past year], and both of those were really amazing. The women’s game was a pink out, so [we were] very happy to support an important cause as well as the women’s [basketball] team. It [was also] nice with the heavy attendance of the men’s [basketball] game to get visibility. 

I would say my favorite event, in general, is definitely our concerts. We work the whole semester gearing up for one night, and it’s just a really good chance to showcase what we’ve been chipping away at all semester. 

NV: We do serenades on Greek row where we’ll sing for the sororities and fraternities during our concert weeks. 

TBC: Freshly Brewed has a spring concert coming up. Can you give us some information about that? 

RK: The concert is on April 22 at 7 p.m. in the Reilly Room. We have two “bring back” songs from last semester, but the rest are newer arrangements. [My first] arrangement is being featured, so I’m really excited about that. Out of the Dawg House will also open for us. Overall, I’m very excited. 

TBC: Do you have any advice for students interested in auditioning for Freshly Brewed in the future? 

SM: Just do it. I feel like I’ve heard way too many stories of people that were really considering it but psyched themselves out. Singing is so important to each of our lives, and we’re all very passionate about it. I feel like that’s kind of what brings us all together, whether it was theatre, choir, madrigals, other a cappella groups or show choir. [Students] also don’t necessarily need to have a [singing] background in order to audition. 

I would encourage people that are even thinking about auditioning to go to the call-out meeting to see what’s going on and get a better understanding of the whole process. I would also say if [students] do end up auditioning, they should pick a song that they are comfortable singing because that really shows [off their talent]. Even if you don’t make it, you’ll never know until you try. 

RK: We have auditions once a year at the beginning of the fall semester. The audition is comprised of a couple of different parts, and we provide resources for what you need to learn. I would just say practicing a lot for the audition is very important. The more prepared you feel, the better it will go. It’s not as scary as you may think. I think [regarding] any singing audition, you’re being vulnerable because you’re sharing your voice with people. It’s only positive things when it comes to how we deliberate for auditions and who ends up getting in the group. It’s never scrutinizing or trying to find the bad in anyone. It’s always from a very positive point of view. 

NV: I know that it can be very intimidating singing for students that are older than you, and there are so many people that will come out [to auditions], and you don’t know what to expect. But I truly think that the best auditions that we’ve seen are from the people that are not holding back anything because they’re afraid of judgment or because they’re afraid of what other people may perceive of them. If you come in and just show us who you are and you know your talents, I feel like that’s more important than anything else. So go in with that attitude. 

I will say that all of the new “beans” were very on the fence and almost did not audition because [they were afraid to], and they still made it into the group because they just gave it a go. And if worst comes to worst, you can always audition again in the future, and we would love to see you again. 

Tickets for the spring concert are available for purchase at the link in the @fbacappella Instagram bio and will also be available at the door. There is also an option to livestream the concert on the Freshly Brewed Facebook page.


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