Founded in 1981, Counterparts is the oldest all-gender 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 an 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.
The group has released 15 albums to date, including the album Straight Ahead (1993) which features an acapella cover version of The Man With The Child In His Eyes.
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 Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library, the University President’s home, the 2018 Scotland-Ireland rugby game, the Pennsylvania Society Gala, and Penn’s Convocation. The group’s past tours include locations such as London, California, and Ireland.