In the spirit of Thanksgiving, a capella groups joined together for a charity concert to raise money to help survivors of sexual assault on Monday.

Five a cappella groups — The Yale Alley Cats, Out of the Blue, Doox of Yale, Mixed Company and Whim ’n Rhythm — hosted a Thanksgiving benefit concert in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall. All of the proceeds from the concert were donated to the Women and Families Center, a local New Haven organization that provides confidential services for victims of abuse and sexual assault, as well as hygiene products, counseling, legal aid and professional development services to members of the community in need.

The concert was organized by Tyler Miles ’20, the community outreach chair for The Yale Alley Cats, along with the business managers of each participating group.

“I wanted to make this concert a tradition and we were having a lot of on-campus conversations about [Brett] Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 and sexual assault,” Miles said. “ We thought it would be important to make this the central issue, to recognize that no one should have to suffer alone or in silence — to use music and a cappella to add to the conversation or bring it to the forefront of campus dialogue.”

The concert on Monday was the second annual charity performance hosted by the a cappella community. The first annual a cappella benefit concert took place in October 2017 and had a Halloween theme — the singers in each group donned costumes for the occasion.

“I had the idea to have a Halloween concert with other on-campus groups, because we don’t get to hear each other often,” Miles said.

The proceeds from last year’s performance exceeded 500 dollars and benefited United for Puerto Rico, a nonprofit entity that provides assistance to individuals and small businesses devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Robert Crystal ’20, the president, rush manager and publicity manager for The Yale Alley Cats, said that donating to a local organization that supports survivors of sexual assault felt like an “emotionally resonant way to devote [the groups’] time and energy.” He added that he hopes the charity concert will remain a recurring event.

“The a cappella community is a disproportionately influential and large one at Yale,” Crystal said. “The fact that we’re able to mobilize and get this many groups involved is great. We have this unique pedestal in campus culture, so I’m just glad that we get to use it for something like this.”

The performance’s organizers interviewed by the News recognized the event’s potential for growth. Last year, four groups hosted the benefit, compared to this year’s five ensembles. According to Crystal, the goal to expand the size of the concert led to some scheduling difficulties, which is why this year’s concert took place in November instead of October. Yet Crystal added that scheduling the later concert date paid off, as it enabled more groups to participate.

Emma Rutan ’21, the solo coach, rush manager, fashionista and social chair of Mixed Company, said that she was pleased to have the opportunity to “be a part of the concert and use [her] voice meaningfully.”

“This issue hits close to home for several of my close friends, especially now as the Kavanaugh decision reminds us of our trauma and our current government’s failure to address sexual assault,” Rutan said. “I think each group performing wishes to support survivors in any way they can, even if it is through a cappella music.”

Last year’s benefit concert featured The Alley Cats, The Spizzwinks(?), Something Extra and The New Blue of Yale.

Rianna Turner |