CultureShock! Seeks Musical, Cultural Diversity

From events
at Pitzer’s Grove House to Friday Band Night at Scripps’s Motley Coffeehouse and a cappella
performances all across the Claremont Colleges, the 5Cs celebrate a multitude of musical
genres. However, a band of first-years recently found that the colleges don’t represent
music from different cultures—cultures like the ones in which they grew up. In
response, they created CultureShock!, a band with an international focus.

Deborah Frempong PO ’15 from Ghana
and Gervais Marsh PO ’15 from Jamaica are just two of many students who demonstrate
the global demographic of the 5Cs. Despite the welcoming arms of the Claremont community, they
found the musical aspects of their home cultures missing.

“I grew up
with and sang cultural songs throughout life in Ghana,” Frempong said. In
Claremont, Frempong realized “that there was a vacuum; barely any
groups express much cultural diversity in terms of their music… We just think
that the music scene on this campus needs to be more global. We’re also hoping
to use this group to combine entertainment, social consciousness and service.”

With these
goals in mind, Frempong, Marsh and Lucia Nunez SC ’15 began CultureShock! this

The club is “not just an a cappella group,” Frempong said. Musical instruments will accompany some songs, and the performances will showcase cultural costumes. The group’s concerts will also often raise
funds for philanthropic organizations and service activities of the club members’ choosing. 

CultureShock! is open to song
suggestions from the public and also plans to talk with the ethnological
departments in the 5Cs to find new music, in addition to drawing from their own

“Our group members come from many
different cultural backgrounds, and so we will definitely be incorporating
songs from their own cultures,” Frempong said.

Frempong’s diverse high school in Ghana enhanced her musical awareness, where students would “mix it up by
singing a Ghanaian song today and a Zimbabwean, South African, Lesotho song the
next time,” and sometimes even sang Native American songs.

“It just felt great to
celebrate diversity in that way and it really helps with international and national
relations,” Frempong said.

Growing up in Jamaica, Marsh also
developed a passion for music from various cultures.

“I feel like my musical perspective
is different from that of many people in the 5Cs,” Marsh said. “I just want
to make music that I think is truly important and is not being showcased at the

Nunez instantly identified with the
goals of Marsh and Frempong. Having sung in choirs with a focus on global music since second grade, Nunez confirmed her passion for music’s capacity to create cultural connections when she traveled to Japan with her choir.

“That was a very eye-opening
experience,” Nunez said. “I’m interested in songs with a positive message, and I
hope that the songs we sing [in CultureShock!] express a different

CultureShock! is still looking for
members, including a musical director and a musical arranger. Some of the
current members are pianists and composers, and Frempong predicts that as the
group grows, they will create new positions.

“The experience is great,
especially singing in another language,” Frempong reflected on cross-cultural music.
“It has a way of bringing people together, and hopefully our music will do that

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