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A Letter from our founder

For Shades, singing is not simply something to do. Music of the African Diaspora is sustenance, resistance, culture, oral tradition, and spirituality all rolled up into a family of music genres. Shades' popularity caught on in the early years like a wildfire. No other group was bringing soul to the campus. No one even knew it was missing until Shades sang and danced - unheard of back then! The founding members* had grown up listening to the Marvin Gayes, the Makebas, the Mario Bauzas, the Mahalias, so they bought an authentic soul sound and choreography that broke all the Ivy League molds.


People have always  joined Shades for different reasons, but inside Shades they find unique opportunities to explore diverse waters with a group of talented, intelligent, sentient people:


  • Opportunities to try a musical style outside what they already know;

  • Opportunities to sing the music they grew up with in a musical home of acceptance and cultural connection; and

  • Opportunities to inspire folks with the music, to touch them in a way that resonates and feeds the soul far beyond pure entertainment.


To current Shades members I say - seize those opportunities! Have fun. Make good music and lifelong friends. To Shades alumni, I invite you to join the Shades Alumni Family and seize the opportunities of music, fellowship, and outreach that continue beyond the university.


Love always,

Titilayo Ngwenya

Yale 1992

*Always remember the other Founding Members for their tremendous contributions and sacrifices toward the development of Shades: Jimi Raines Jr., Curtis Etherly, Creswell Formey, Michelle Meertens, Linda Barry, Kimberly D. Dixon, Lillyanne Alexander, Karen Bowser, Mignon Washington, Terry Camarillo, and Tonya D. Farmer

Titilayo Ngwenya

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