The Naturelles light up the stage as the underdogs

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COLUMBIA - As the only all-female a cappella group at the University of Missouri, the Naturelles are reaching new heights.

The group is the only from MU to make it to the semi-finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. This year marks the group's second trip to the ICCA semi-finals, but it's the first time an MU group placed first at quarter-finals.

"It was actually the first time that the Washington University boys' group that placed second to us had lost in a really long time at home, so it was really neat for us as a girls' group to kind of kick them off their throne, not in a mean way, but just to kind of see a girls' group excel," said Naturelles President Brittany Wood.

The Naturelles are one of only three all-female groups to make it to the Indianapolis semi-finals. All-female groups tend to struggle in competitions because they cannot achieve the deeper notes to make the performances sound as full.

"We're definitely in the minority, but we're just excited to see some other women power at the competition with us," Wood said.

"We tend to embrace the whole underdog nature that comes along with being a girls' a cappella group. We pride ourselves in not taking the competition too seriously," said Music Director Natalia Alamdari. "We're not in it because we want to take first place. We're in it because it's fun."

Alamdari said it's really exciting to see how far the group has come.

"Having, like, a role in arranging the music that got us to this point is also just like really fulfilling, too," Alamdari said.

Wood said it's obvious the other groups at competitions are full of music majors with vocal training, but none of the Naturelles are majoring or minoring in anything musical.

"I think a lot of that is attributed to the fact that we're not music majors, and we don't have that opportunity as often as we maybe wish we did, but when we do get to sing, we sing with everything we've got," Wood said. "I think it just makes our group that much more emotional and that much more motivated to really pour ourselves into our performance, and I think the audience feels that."

Alamdari said everyone in the group wants to spread a message of empowerment, and Wood said taking first at semi-finals is a great way to prove the girls' strength.

"That was just really exciting for us to start, you know, breaking barriers and, you know, making history here at the university with something as small as a cappella to a lot of people. But to us, it's a really big deal," Wood said.

The ICCA semi-finals are scheduled for March 25 in Indianapolis.