Senior music education and voice concentration major Samantha DiPompeo was never taught how to properly greet the president.
“So when he comes in, do I wait for him to reach his hand out to shake mine, or should I reach out if he gets to me?” DiPompeo said she recently asked White House staff.
DiPompeo and rest of the members of the Temple female a capella group Singchronize didn’t know whether to sit or stand when President Barack Obama and the First Lady entered the room for their private winter concert on Dec. 18.
“They just nonchalantly strolled in the room,” DiPompeo said. “My first impression was, ‘Wow, they’re tall.’”
The moment was surreal for Singchronize members who ventured to Washington, D.C. after submitting an application to perform in the White House. Last year, the group was selected and sang in the lobby entrance for tourists, but never caught a glimpse of the Obama family.
This year, Singchronize President Danielle Costanzo saw a chance to change that.
“In the online application, I directly stated that we had sang the year before and we’d love to have an opportunity to meet the President,” the junior strategic communications and organizational leadership major said. “I had no idea my shameless request would actually work.”
Costanzo said they were specifically told that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are not guaranteed to appear at holiday receptions, but the slight possibility gave the group hope.
Before starting their set for reception guests, a White House intern gave them their schedule. It included meeting the presidential power couple, taking a group photo and performing a sample of one of their songs.
“We were out of our skin,” Costanzo said.
DiPompeo said the president and first lady walked down the line of singers, shaking hands, asking each member their name and wishing them happy holidays.
“I was smiling ear to ear,” DiPompeo said. “I couldn’t believe how perfect Michelle Obama looked in person, and she had these sparkly shoes on, and all I could think was, ‘I want those shoes. Mrs. Obama and I could share shoes.’”
DiPompeo said President Obama asked them questions about school and the previous semester before adding that he couldn’t believe that one of his daughters would be going to college soon.
“We all shouted, ‘Send her to Temple!’” DiPompeo said. “He gave this hearty laugh, and I just imagined him thinking, ‘Aw, that’s so sweet ladies, but hell no.’”
The ladies of Singchronize then posed for a photo with the Obamas before singing Frozen anthem “Let It Go,” which inspired the First Lady to try her hand at beat boxing.
“She turned to our beat boxer [Stephanie Hirsch] and asked, ‘How do you do that?’” DiPompeo said. “Then she started making all the ‘shh’ noises.”
After the performance, DiPompeo said the Obamas thanked the girls and left, leaving half the group in tears and the others in awe.
“I’m sure they knew that meeting them was a huge deal for us, but they didn’t act like it,” DiPompeo added. “They were so down to earth.”
Singchronize is checking the presidential concert off on their list of accomplishments this year after releasing their first full-length album, “Hands In,” on iTunes.
Costanzo said it’s amazing that their passion for singing has granted them so many opportunities.
“I don’t think any of us ever imagined that being in Singchronize would mean meeting the President and First Lady,” Costanzo said. “Next stop: Beyoncé.”
Jessica Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org