In the summer of 2011, the YellowJackets traveled to the Kenyan village of Maseno, where the local school had been struggling with student attendance until they altered their curriculum to emphasize music. Throughout our visit, we made bonds with the children in the school choir and recorded our 2012 album United We Sing with them. After returning to the States, the group raised funds to send the kids to a national choral competition in Kenya, where they won first place!
Since then, the YellowJackets have continuously worked with the Rochester community to encourage music education. In addition to regularly performing for schools around the area, every week we hold a workshop with Rochester's World of Inquiry School No. 58, a school with limited music funding.
Now, it's time to go back to Kenya.
This trip’s purpose is participate in a cultural and musical exchange with the community at a larger scale. The group learned so much about the importance of music education from the people of Maseno, and now we want to learn from communities all over Kenya. Over the course of two and a half weeks, we will return to Maseno, but also travel to places such as Nairobi, Butere, and Kisumu. In each of these cities and villages, we will sing with orphanages and grade schools in the area all while maintaining the relationships that were made with these communities seven years ago.
When we return from the trip, we want to be equipped with as much knowledge and experience as we can to raise awareness of the impact of cultural exchange and music education on creating relationships with people across the world.
But we need your help. Every penny that we are getting for this trip will go towards getting us to Kenya and reaching these schools and orphanages across the country.
Founded in 1956, the YellowJackets are the University of Rochester’s oldest a cappella group. Besides their bright yellow blazers, what makes this group of young men so unique is their dedication to music, service, and education on a global level.
The YJs strive to become an integral part of the local community wherever they are, beginning an after school a cappella program for inner-city children in Rochester, traveling to Africa for a musical exchange with a children’s choir in Maseno, Kenya in 2011, and visiting places as diverse as Valencia, London, and Los Angeles to share culture and music through a series of workshops and performances. The YellowJackets feel strongly about their philanthropic pursuits and are proud to have helped to raise over $100,000 for the Hannah Metzler Memorial Fund, a Rochester-based cancer support foundation.
In 2011, the YellowJackets competed on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” alongside Grammy-winning group Pentatonix, and have performed with The Sing-Off’s Live Tour for the past several years. In April 2016, the YellowJackets released a music video for Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” which has amassed 3 million views on YouTube. Last year, the group was honored to win the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award for Best Male Collegiate Album for their 18th studio album, “Y2J.”