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When College junior Marisa Sifontes looked at University performing arts at the end of her freshman year, she noticed a gap. The University, she felt, needed another a cappella group. It is not that there was a shortage of groups. The campus was already flooded with all-male, all-female and coed groups that dominated the program at every Performing Arts Night. What was missing was a group devoted to black music, she thought. "There was a need for an a cappella group where African-American interests could be expressed," said Sifontes, who also sings with Counterparts. She raised the idea with Ozuma Ogbuokiri, at the time a Glee Club member, who agreed that the gap had to be filled. "We figured there should be at least some representation for African-American culture in the performing arts field," Ogbuokiri said. "Besides, I had arranged [Michael Jackson's] Man in the Mirror and I had nobody to sing it." "We've had a very positive impact on the performing arts community," Sifontes said. "We've breathed some life into it. We're not just another coed a cappella singing group." The Inspiration has also been well received by the black community, according to Sifontes. It offers an outlet for students who want to perform and want to use their talent to enrich black life on campus or who are reluctant to audition for mostly white arts groups. Obuokiri said he believes The Inspiration will attract a new group of black spectators and performers to the performing arts community as a whole. "When people started watching the Inspiration, they would start opening themselves up to the performing arts field in general," he said. "It would make them more interested in what's going on in performing arts on this campus." The Inspiration's membership is currently all black, and both founders say this helps create a close, family-like atmosphere within the group. "Most of the people who are in the group knew each other before because the African-American society here is really close-knit," said Ogbuokiri. Sifontes said that the group is open to singers of all races. "We go for the best voices we can, and in the past two years, the best voices have been African-Americans'," she said. "Regardless of who's in the group, we focus on African-American music." The Inspiration's fall show, with Quaker Notes, will be November 1 and 3 at the Gold Standard.

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