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The Glee of Special K

April 22, 2015

Long before Glee took television by storm, singing groups were popular on the Hill. Hamilton had its Buffers. In 1977 or 1978, a handful of enterprising, talented Kirkland students formed their own acappella group, Special K. Founder Kendra Anderson, K’80, provided the following recollections.

A group of us founded Special K (a bunch of us who had been in the choir together): Elizabeth Turnquist, Vicki Furth, Laura Hausman, Mitty Cunningham, Roberta Nelson, Annie Priestly, Barb Gross, Rachel Dickinson and maybe Susie Broadhurst and of course me.  We probably had twelve members with three people on four parts. So there are more I can’t think of. I’m not sure of the year, but it was around 1977 or 78. The second year some of the members changed because of graduation, and we had non-choir members perhaps.

Costume design for Special K supplied by Kendra Anderson, K’79

I sort of “designed” the first costumes we wore. I have a drawing of one of our ideas, which was too elaborate to use. I can’t even remember what we ended up wearing. I think we used a calico print in different colors (blue, red and green) and made vests or something (very nerdy looking!!!!) I liked my original idea better.

I SO remember the songs!!! “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Dream,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” (our signature song).

I don’t remember a faculty advisor but it might have been Lee Spear. We practiced in one of the performance centers at Kirkland and in the Chapel. 

It’s so fun to think about again! I LOVED singing in that group, and my husband to be at the time (Lunn Sawyer) sang in the Buffers.

Did You Know?

Special K still lives on at Hamilton College. Today, the group has about 12-16 members. They usually perform concerts on campus during Alumni Weekend, Family Weekend, and Senior Week.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Douglas Raybeck permalink
    April 22, 2015 12:04 pm

    Ahem … vests are hard;y ‘nerdy’. Harrumph.

  2. April 22, 2015 12:33 pm

    Ah: I remember you guys were great!

  3. mwagner411 permalink
    June 14, 2015 4:36 pm

    Actually, it was Caroline Pennypacker who first came up with the idea of forming a female acappella group! I don’t remember that she was even in the choir, but she put together the first meetings and brought the sheet music for “Dream”. Debbie Schmale was there, and I remember going to a few rehearsals…

    • mcintosh301 permalink*
      June 15, 2015 6:44 am

      Hi Mindy!
      This is good to know. I saw T-shirts that claimed Special K was formed in the early ’70s, and I knew that wasn’t true. It’s good to have depth and add accuracy to these stories, which is why we keep asking everyone to comment and/or help us create new posts. Thanks for the input on this.

      Any volunteers to help write up something on Kirkland’s dance concentration? I saw three dance majors right up front during the Steak Nite concert at the reunion last weekend. . .

  4. Debbie Schmale Watrous permalink
    March 6, 2023 6:07 pm

    Weighing in on Special K history:
    I believe Special K was formed in 1977. I was the first director (though that was very loose) and one of the altos. Our outfits at the beginning were 1940s-style cocktail dresses from local thrift stores. We didn’t have a faculty advisor that I recall. – Debbie Schmale Watrous K’78

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