The Sounds of Our Times


While styles of popular music have changed over the years, there’s always been a constant at Northwestern: students forming groups on their own and seeing where the music can take them. Here are two examples from decades past.

The Westside Four, 1962–66

What began as a need for a male quartet to represent Maurice-Orange City High School in a district music contest led to a folk group that performed for several years with a variety of members. When they were all Northwestern students, the musicians represented the college at a national Reformed Church Youth Fellowship Conference hootenanny and ministered in Denver-area churches on an Easter Sunday.

Just a month after performing for youth at New York’s Marble Collegiate Church as part of the 1966 A cappella Choir tour, the Westside Four sang for the last time at a Minneapolis recording studio. Tenor and ukulele player Leroy Netten ’67 was dying of leukemia, and the Orange City Lion’s Club provided funds for the album to help defray his medical expenses.

“He had an indomitable spirit; he kept on singing even though he was declining,” says Bill Kalsbeek ’68. “Leroy was our inspirational leader in many ways. This was more than a singing group. It was a collection of guys who loved music, tried to bring a little enjoyment to people, and at the same time managed to enjoy it quite a bit ourselves and became great friends.”

Netten’s death not long afterward signaled the end of the Westside Four. “Our group was no longer a group,” says Kalsbeek.


His M.U.S.I.C., 1993–97

Jason Schrock ’97 remembers the time after a 1995 concert when he and the other members of His M.U.S.I.C. (Men United and Saved in Christ) shared with their parents that they had decided to forego their summer jobs and go on a 28-state tour.

“God showed up in a crazy way,” says Schrock. “My dad put down the first money to support our mission trip. Northwestern’s alumni base and supporting churches were so gracious to allow strangers in their homes and leading worship.”

Singing mostly a cappella music made popular by groups like Glad, His M.U.S.I.C. performed at churches and even the Iowa State Fair. “All of us were from the Midwest and didn’t have a large worldview yet,” says Schrock. “We were blessed to be able to see different styles of worship, a diversity of ethnicity, and really experience the unity in the body of Christ.”

It was a test of faith for the young men, who arrived at one Utah venue with no money and less than a gallon of gas in their van. But thanks to freewill donations, the musicians were able to end the summer with some money to put toward the next semester’s expenses.

Classic Comments

All comments are moderated and need approval from the moderator before they are posted. Comments that include profanity, or personal attacks, or antisocial behavior such as "spamming" or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our terms of use. You are fully responsible for the content that you post. Comments posted do not reflect the views or values of Northwestern College.