‘A Cappella For All’ Concert helps give a voice to the Deaf community

 Various Acapella groups perform in the Student Union Theatre on Saturday, Feb 10. The groups sing a variety of popular songs, ranging from Michael Jackson to Bruno Mars. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

Various Acapella groups perform in the Student Union Theatre on Saturday, Feb 10. The groups sing a variety of popular songs, ranging from Michael Jackson to Bruno Mars. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

Saturday afternoon Language For All hosted “A Cappella For All,” a concert benefiting Manos Unidas, a non-profit organization that works with schools in Nicaragua to provide education and  resources to Deaf children. Five A Cappella groups, Rubyfruit, The Rolling Tones, The Chordials, A Completely Different Note and A minor all volunteered to perform at the event. The concert not only showcased amazing student talent, but raised awareness for a good cause.

Language For All is an organization on campus that works to promote awareness of language development with an emphasis on underrepresented groups.  They advocate for language access through education and service. “A Cappella For All” is its largest event of the year and this is the fourth annual show.

Dr. Maria Coppola, a faculty advisor of the club, founded Manos Unidas to support the Deaf community after doing research in Nicaragua. Manos Unidas, which translates to united hands, provides scholarships for Deaf students to attend boarding school.

“We are working in unison with the people in Nicaragua… it is important for every child to have access to language, this especially is a huge issue for students in poor countries,” Coppola said.

Manos Unidas is a federally recognized charitable organization and proceeds from the event are donated to sponsor Karina, a 17-year-old deaf high school student who lost her leg to cancer.

Helena Sun, a sixth-semester Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and music major who is President of Language for all and helped organize the event, praised Dr. Coppola for her work. “Dr. Coppola is the most inspiring person I’ve ever met, her research in Nicaragua inspired us to put on this event,” Sun said.

The five A Cappella groups performed a few songs each. Every group captivated the audience and sang hits such as “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars, “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson and “How Long” by Charlie Puth. Each group demonstrated strong vocals and had an enthralling stage presence.

“We invited the A Cappella groups because they have a lot of supporters and really support the cause,” Sun said. “It’s really important to see musicians advocate for the Deaf community.”

Vocalist Anusha Mohan from Rubyfruit sang a powerful rendition of “Stayin’ Alive,” as did The Chordial’s Cayla Puglisi with her solo in “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root. A Completely Different Note’s Ryan Harger charmed the audience with his performances of “Lookin’ Like That” by Jordan Fisher and “That’s What I Like.”

“Thank you all for coming to the show… being able to share our music on every platform possible is awesome,” DJ Porter, President of the UConn A Cappella Association, said during the event.

Each song was interpreted by an ASL translator from the UConn Interpreting Services.

“For such a long time there was so much tension for Deaf people, they didn’t have an identity and sign language wasn’t available in a lot of schools. If you don’t give kids that access to language they miss out on proper language development,” Sun said. “The Deaf community is very special and they have really formed an identity for themselves… it’s so important to support all modalities of language.”


Melissa Scrivani is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at melissa.scrivani@uconn.edu.