Founded in 1981, Counterparts is the oldest co-ed a cappella group at the University of Pennsylvania and the only group specializing in pop and jazz. The group is known for its intricate arrangements, genre-spanning sets, and powerful soloists.
In 1981, undergraduates interested in singing at Penn were limited to a handful of single-sex groups including Pennsylvania 6-5000, Quaker Notes and the Penn Glee Club. Seeking a co-ed alternative, Colleen Dempsey founded Counterparts in late 1981. From 1994-1999, John Legend was a member of Counterparts and served as its President and Music Director.
Today, Counterparts puts on a feature show each semester in which the group both acknowledges its roots in jazz and explores recent developments in both genres. Each show has two acts: the first features often-recognizable pop hits, and the second showcases the group's rich jazz legacy. In keeping with Counterparts tradition, group members wear tuxedos and black dresses for the second act.
Recent Counterparts performances have taken place at the New York Public Library, the University President's home, the 2018 Scotland-Ireland rugby game, and Penn's Convocation. The group's past tours include London, California, and most recently, Ireland. Counterparts has produced 15 albums and 5 music videos, including a collaboration with Arts House Dance Company which won Best Mixed Collegiate Video from the Contemporary A Cappella Society in 2017. Other honors include Best Jazz Video for "I Wish", Outstanding Soloist at ICCA Semifinals, and being selected to perform alongside Deke Sharon and other top collegiate groups at College Notes in 2017.
Check out the video below to see some of our recent highlights.