Student Spotlight: Charli Fool Bear-Vetter ’15

by Hallie Huffaker | 3/31/15 6:40pm


Though she does not come from a musical family, Charli Fool Bear-Vetter ’15 fell in love with music at an early age. Without ever taking a lesson — and without the benefit of a choir at her high school — the a cappella singer said she trained herself to write music, play the guitar and sing.

“Right now I’m trying to write a musical that is sort of in the vein of ‘Once’ [2006] with really simple guitar and piano,” she said. “I’m working my way into trying to learn how to compose a whole show.”

This passion — and ambition to learn more — is evident to many of Fool Bear-Vetter’s friends and fellow performers. Emma Orme ’15, who sings with Fool Bear-Vetter in the Rockapellas, described her as “the best person in the world.”

“When she is singing, it is never just singing,” Orme said. “She is telling you something. She knows herself and her values very well, and her stability makes the people around her feel like everything will be OK.”

Despite having no prior experience singing with a group, Fool Bear-Vetter said she came to Dartmouth excited to join the a cappella scene. She was immediately drawn to the Rockapellas — a group she described as by far her most rewarding at the College — because she felt their social justice inspired musical repertoire was meaningful. Orme, when asked to recall her first impression of Fool Bear-Vetter, said she remembers being “stunned” by her voice, which Fool Bear-Vetter herself describes as “bluesy-folk rock.”

“I had never heard another voice like it,” Orme said. “Her voice is very earthy. It has a real depth of tone.”

Jordana Composto ’16, another member of the Rockapellas, called Fool Bear-Vetter the “heart of our group” while also praising her vocal quality.

“She has a powerful, big voice, and she knows how to use it,” Composto said. “She knows how to make the small moments equally as important as the big ones.”

Outside of the Rockapellas, Fool Bear-Vetter has shone through her participation in Dartmouth Idol, in which she has performed three times. Placing second this winter and earning a $250 prize, Fool Bear-Vetter also appeared in the Dartmouth Idol finals in 2012 and in the semifinals in 2014.

This winter in particular, Fool Bear-Vetter said, she enjoyed getting to know the diverse group involved with the show behind the stage and performing in front of a crowded audience.

“I’ve never just stood on stage and sung with someone without an instrument in my hand,” she said. “Singing the duet was especially different because with a solo, I made up my own story for it and I made the connections, but for a duet you work together. You set an emotional arch for it — you are writing something together.”

While at the College, Fool Bear-Vetter’s passion for performing has led her to the theater department and to a major in the field. She discovered her interest in the department after taking a playwriting course, she said, and ideally hopes to combine her interest in writing and singing by working in musical theatre. Eventually, she hopes to make and produce music or write for other performers.

In addition to her performances on campus — and her eclectic musical taste, which spans Barbra Streisand and Metallica — Fool Bear-Vetter is also a member of Native Americans at Dartmouth, which she calls another important part of her Dartmouth experience. Friends know her as a confident and self-aware person, and Elena Bird ’18 described her as “strong and independent.”

“I have definitely grown at Dartmouth,” Fool Bear-Vetter said. “When I got here I was shy and anxious all the time, and I am still an anxious person. But over Dartmouth I’ve become a more extroverted person, a more comfortable person.”

The final word with Charli Fool Bear-Vetter ’15

Favorite snack at late-night: mozzarella sticks.

Favorite spot to relax on campus: NAD lounge in Robinson Hall.