Arts, On Campus

B.E.A.T.S Celebrates Black History Month With Intimate Annual Showcase

Before Black Experience in America Through Song (B.E.A.T.S.) even got on stage for its annual Black History Month showcase, there was already a commotion in the crowd—audience members chatted loudly, mingled, laughed, and occasionally screamed the name of one of the group’s members. Many audience members seemed acquainted with one another, and there was such a sense of camaraderie in the crowd that onlookers might have believed that the purpose of the night was solely to gather in that room—not to watch a cappella.

But when the eight members of B.E.A.T.S walked onto stage, the crowd redirected their attention and excitement toward the a cappella group. 

B.E.A.T.S, Boston College’s only a cappella group that centers exclusively on music from Black artists, hosted its annual Black History Month showcase in Fulton 511 at 6 p.m. on Feb. 18. 

All members of B.E.A.T.S wore black and stood in front of a chalkboard as a backdrop, which was adorned with fairy lights and had the words “Fight For You” written on it in cursive. The stage setup was simple, yet elegant. There was nothing flashy about the group’s choice of wardrobe, which made it easier for the audience to focus on the meaningful lyrics it sang and poetry it recited. 

B.E.A.T.S. began preparing for the Black History Month show during the fall semester. It differentiates from other a cappella groups in its mission to only perform music by Black artists, and Black History Month was an opportunity for B.E.A.T.S. to continue celebrating Black art and culture. 

“Happy Black History Month,” Silvia Ballivian, president of B.E.A.T.S. and MCAS ’23, said to begin the show. 

Ballivian and Meena Menon, vice president of B.E.A.T.S. and MCAS ’25, stepped forward and introduced themselves and the rest of the group’s members.

After a brief welcome, B.E.A.T.S started its show as it always does—singing ”Lift Every Voice and Sing,” commonly known as the Black national anthem. The audience rose to their feet for the first powerful performance of the night. 

Next, Shea Schindelar, MCAS ’25, carried with the empowering mood of the show by soloing on Destiny Child’s “Independent Women Part 1.” Schindelar’s confidence and dynamic stage presence matched the song’s self-assertive lyrics. 

Later, all members left the stage as Schindelar and Menon remained to duet “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations. Menon’s and Schindelar’s voices harmonized to create a sweet and romantic tone. 

Throughout the show, audience members moved to the beat of each song, mumbled some lyrics, recorded and took pictures with their phones, and cheered for the performers. 

Tara Balan, MCAS ’25 then took the stage to recite a poem by civil rights activist and writer Maya Angelou. For her recital of  “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,” the crowd went silent, indicating it was entranced by the striking lines. 

“I’ve got a magic charm / That I keep up my sleeve / I can walk the ocean floor / And never have to breathe. / Life doesn’t frighten me at all,” Balan said, transmitting courage through her voice. 

Tara Balan performing “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green (Sofía Torres / Heights Editor)

Ballivian and Menon dueted “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. The chemistry between both singers was evident in their performance. The audience clapped with the jolly beat of the song. Ballivian and Menon hugged each other at the end of the song as the other members walked back on stage.

Menon also recited a poem she wrote in her senior year of high school titled “Solidarity.”

Menon explained that she wrote this poem after many people from her hometown died from police brutality. The personal poem again made the crowd completely silent as Menon’s  heartfelt lines filled the room. 

The group’s last song was “Fight for You” by H.E.R., which inspired the title of the show. Menon explained the importance of the song, as it acknowledges life’s hardships while highlighting the need to look toward the future. 

To finish, the group gathered in a semicircle and bowed, and the audience cheered louder than it had all night.

“We wouldn’t be here without your support,” Menon said. B.E.A.T.S closed its showcase by thanking the audience for attending. 

February 26, 2023