UI senior makes mark on acapella group

BY NINA EARNEST | MARCH 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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Gray skies threatened rain on a late Friday afternoon, but a curious crowd still gathered on the brick-paved walkway of the Pedestrian Mall.

Intersection — the University of Iowa’s all-male a cappella group — was singing.

And Paul Spooner had the solo.

The UI senior swayed to the background harmony as his clear tenor voice rang out. Onlookers listened as he belted the main section of “One Day,” by Matisyahu.

In addition to serving as the group’s event manager, the journalism and communication-studies major is also president of the UI chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. And he enjoys flying — he’s had a private pilot’s license since October 2009.

Yet, the 21-year-old said, Intersection remains the highlight of his college years.

Music has long been part of Spooner’s life. The Waukee, Iowa, native participated in speech, musicals, and three choirs in high school.

“Marching band was my sport,” he said and laughed.

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He said he wanted to pursue music in college and decided to try out for Intersection — recognized as a student group in 2005 — during his freshman year at the UI.

Now, four years later, Spooner said the group has evolved into a “singing fraternity.”

The 14 young men contribute every necessary part to the harmonies — bass, tenor, baritone, and beatbox — to songs including a mashup of ’N Sync’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” as well as Brian McKnight’s “Superhero.” Intersection has performed at all manner of events — private parties, UI events, for nonprofits, and even last year’s Obama speech.

Spooner dedicates three hours every week for practice with the group and an extra one to three hours for his role as events manager.

Nick Dawe, the 21-year-old president of Intersection and one of Spooner’s close friends, said Spooner is known for his sense of humor.

“He’s a hilarious guy,” Dawe said. “I’d like to get in his head for a day.”

The singers were more than an hour into a Monday night practice when they circled around the piano, scattered with sheet music for a “Mario Kart Lovesong,” to practice one last piece.

Everyone appeared ready to go after one final run through — but Spooner spoke up.

“Can we sing the song with the solo?”

The others groaned.

“It’ll only take a minute,” Spooner pleaded, feigning exasperation.

They erupted in laughter. Music sheets shuffled, the piano keys rang, and the group started the song again.

Brittany Caplin, the vice president of the student public-relations group, said Spooner is very personable and one of the nicest people she knows.

“He’ll just walk up to anybody and start a conversation,” she said.

His willingness to approach people has enabled him to promote the a cappella group.

“Being events manager has helped me out with public relations,” Spooner said. “It is fun combining both worlds, music and PR.”

But his time with Intersection is coming to an end as his graduation nears.

He said he hopes to combine two of his other interests — public relations and aviation — into working for airline or airport communications.

And his bandmates value his contribution to the harmony of the group.

“He’s a good guy,” Dawe said. “And you’ll never meet anyone like him.”

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