Arts & Culture

acoUstiKats Reflect on Making Music During a Pandemic

Video by UK Marketing and Brand Strategy.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 27, 2021) From masks and socially distanced recorded performances to TikTok, University of Kentucky School of Music’s popular a cappella group the acoUstiKats, like many performing artists, had to relearn what it meant to make music during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To not perform, was never an option. 

“It’s important to sing during a pandemic because singing is the most natural thing that humans do, really,” said music education senior Nick Rowan, acoUstiKats student director. “As strange as that may sound, that’s how people bonded with each other. Back before there was technology and there were instruments that you could play, they made music together. Just the act of singing, as being something that is so communal it hurts, it just brings a little bit of light and joy to a world right now that desperately needs it.”

Watch the video above to see members of the group discuss their experience performing in masks, presenting concerts, and making connections with the audience and each other.

To see the acoUstiKats’ spring concert for UK School of Music’s Classroom Concert Series, visit The concert features a performance of the Bill Withers' classic "Just the Two of Us" from the group’s viral TikTok recording.

About the acoUstiKats

Founded in 1993 by Jefferson Johnson, the acoUstiKats are a select a cappella ensemble of 16 voices from the Men’s Chorus. They perform numerous concerts each semester for university, church and community functions as well as at every Men’s Chorus concert. Specializing in doo-wop and a cappella pop styles, the acoUstiKats have recorded two CDs and are one of the university’s most visible ensembles.

The acoUstiKats perform at prestigious events on campus and throughout the state of Kentucky. In 2007, the acoUstiKats were featured at the Kentucky Derby Gala celebration at the Governor’s Mansion. They frequently perform at elementary and middle schools throughout the Commonwealth. The acoUstiKats were also featured on national television as a part of NBC’s “The Sing-Off” season four and have performed in countless venues across the United States from the shores of Hawaii to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

photo of Ty Odom masked at acoUstiKats rehearsal in parking garage
photo of 2 masked acoUstiKats rehearsing in garage structure with backpacks on ground behind them
photo of masked acoUstiKats members spaced out in classroom for a rehearsal

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

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