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BU a cappella group Chordially Yours opens Lena Dunham’s book tour at Wilbur Theatre

When Boston University College of Communication senior Jen Gregorio heard that her all-female a cappella group, Chordially Yours, would be opening the sold-out Boston stop of Lena Dunham’s book tour at the Wilbur Theatre, she had to convince her mother not to go.

“My mom is so upset she can’t come. She almost bought the resale tickets — they’re like $100,” Gregorio said. “I was like, ‘No, we’re singing two songs. Please do not do that.’”

All-female Boston University a cappella group, Chordially Yours, will perform two songs at the Wilbur Theatre Thursday as the opening act for Lena Dunham's book tour. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHORDIALLY YOURS
All-female Boston University a cappella group, Chordially Yours, will perform two songs at the Wilbur Theatre Thursday as the opening act for Lena Dunham’s book tour. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHORDIALLY YOURS

The group received the opportunity to open the show for Dunham, the HBO “Girls” actress, writer and creator, when one of the members of Chordially Yours saw a tweet from the star that said she was looking for local talent to open for her on select tour dates. Gregorio, the group’s business manager, filled out the simple application and sent a YouTube video of the group singing a mash-up of Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” which she said is one of her favorites in the group’s repertoire.

“Jen mentioned it briefly, and then I kind of forgot about it,” said Liana Gerstein, Chordially Yours music director and a junior in the School of Education. “Then all of a sudden she sent the entire e-board an email…It was definitely an exciting moment for all.”

Gregorio partially attributed the selection of Chordially Yours to the group’s lady-centric vibe.

“I think one of the reasons Lena picked us is because we’re all female, and I think she’s very much into women and women’s rights,” she said.

Gerstein agreed, adding that she thinks Dunham is “all about girl power.”

And with their unique all-female lineup, Chordially Yours hopes to impart their own important messages to the audience about female equality and empowerment.

“People [will] take away [from the performance] that girls can do all-female a cappella, and it still sounds amazing,” Gregorio said. “The stigma is that you need the men for the basses, but I think all-female a cappella sounds so great. I hope people take away that all-female a cappella groups are just as good, if not better.”

Gregorio, a fan of “Girls,” said there is a real camaraderie between the a cappella groups on campus and that they are all supportive of each other.

“Anytime I see them [the other a cappella groups], they’re like ‘Oh my god, congrats on Lena! So excited for you guys,’” Gregorio said. “And all of my friends are jealous. They all want to come to the show.”

Gerstein said people have been flooding the group with articles about their gig from sites like BostInno and Boston Magazine.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “We work hard, and now it’s going to pay off.”

The group doesn’t have any particular pre-show rituals in preparing for this particular performance, Gerstein said, aside from lots and lots of rehearsing.

“We’re not only going to sound good, but we’re also going to be excited about everything,” she said.

For the show, the group has selected two of their favorite songs to perform, Gregorio said. The first is Britney Spears’ “(You Drive Me) Crazy” and the second song is the mash-up of “Stacy’s Mom” and “What Makes You Beautiful” that convinced Dunham to add them to the billing in the first place.

Formed in 2003, Chordially Yours — matter-of-factly deemed “the sassiest female group on campus” by Gregorio — performs on campus, in the Boston area and occasionally in places outside the city.

The group takes a different musical approach every semester, Gerstein said, whose position as music director leaves her in charge of decisions such as song selection and musical arrangements. She said Chordially Yours specializes in “throwbacks,” but has been a little more contemporary in its song selections this semester, with songs like Meghan Trainor’s recent body-positive hit, “All About That Bass.”

“We try to do something we know will challenge us,” Gerstein said. “We want to do songs that are going to sound good, but we also want to do songs that push us to go a little harder.”

Aside from opening Dunham’s tour, the group has a slate of upcoming performances this semester, Gregorio said, including Freecappella, an annual free a cappella concert hosted by BU group In Achord, and a performance at a local women’s shelter, Rosie’s Place.

With a seating capacity of more than 1,000 people, the Wilbur will be the biggest venue Chordially Yours has ever played, Gregorio said. Still, she said the general feeling amongst the group is excitement rather than apprehension.

“The nerves might hit us Thursday,” she said. “But so far it’s just exciting.”

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