True Colors brighten OPRF

True Colors brighten OPRF

True Colors, the only all people of color acapella group in the choir department, is gearing up for a year of rehearsal and performance.

Entering its fifth year after being formed in 2017 by alumni Spencer Lombardo, True Colors is still running strong as a unique group at Oak Park and River Forest High School. They exclusively sing songs written by people of color, by artists such as The Fugees, Whitney Houston, Jill Scott and Eryn Allen Kane.

As a section of the choir department at OPRF, they occasionally perform with the choir, at the annual OPRF Prisms of Winter concert in December, and at other gigs. For example, on May 21 they sang at The Actor’s Garden theater in Oak Park.

As of right now, True Colors is not looking for new members, according to senior Lee Chaloemtiarana, the group’s president. Four people auditioned on Aug. 22 and 23, and they have eight members this year, five of which are seniors. Their members include Chaloemtiarana, Cameren Truelove, Minali Bandara, Wami Osikanlu, Roya Gharavi (all seniors), and sophomores Moriah Zeb-Quiñones, Brianna Rockingham-Humphrey, and Nafia Johnson. Even though auditions have already been held, the group always scouts potential members for next year.

Chaloemtiarana has been a member of the group since they were a freshman. “There’s plenty of ways you can create human connections, but creating art together you just can’t replicate anywhere else,” Chaloemtiarana said. Singing in a group involves a lot of adjusting and bouncing off of each other, and “it really bonds you in a way that I can’t even begin to describe,” they said.

According to Truelove, the group does sing lesser known songs by people of color, and they “tend to deviate from the typical pop sound. They’re more soulful and rooted more in black music,” she said.

The group is, according to Chaloemtiarana, “really pushing for the acknowledgement of musicians and artists of color who have contributed so much to music in ways that a lot of people don’t recognize.” They said people of color added “funky rhythms and cool new ways of singing” that typical Western music didn’t have.

After joining True Colors as a junior last year, Truelove views singing songs by people of color as a learning experience for the singers and the audience. She said “we get to…have people listen to music that they wouldn’t normally hear…(and) it introduces me to other cultures and songs that have me learn more about different types of people.”

Also entering her second year in True Colors, Zeb-Quiñones is meant to be the president of True Colors for the 2023-2024 school year. “Everyone is at different levels. People who are still new to music still have a chance to write or split up parts and get the group ready. It’s a really good opportunity to develop leadership skills and also learn to work together,” she said.

Chaloemtiarana expressed the desire to work with other social justice organizations within the school, such as Black Leaders Union, ASPIRA, Pan Asian Leadership Society and others. “It’s so important to connect with these groups in the future, because we’d love to bring music forward as a form of activism,” they said. Groups who wish to collaborate with True Colors can reach out to Chaloemtiarana at [email protected].

Much of their schedule is in the works, but True Colors hopes to perform at the Fall Choir Concert on Nov. 17. Check the OPRF Choir Department’s website calendar for more information.