Charlie Williams, Staff Writer
On January 17th, students shuffled into their usual seats in the auditorium and waited for their daily announcements, but instead of Communications Chair George Landsberg greeting them on stage, it was Mr. Kendrick, upper school statistics and economics teacher. Within a few moments, trailing behind him came 11 unknown faces, wearing red blazers with the number 13 on them. To a confused audience, Mr. Kendrick explained that the men standing behind him were a collegiate a cappella group, known as the Colgate 13. While studying at Colgate, Kendrick also sang for the Colgate 13.
“It was an incredible experience that allowed me to travel around the country and perform,” he said. “It fostered life-long friendships. I gained a lot of meaningful life experience.” Kendrick even recalled singing at Latin in the fall of 1995.
The group leader reached out to Kendrick through Colgate’s “extensive alumni network.” He noted that the most challenging part of bringing the group in was getting assembly time, and he thanked Ms. Callis because she “was awesome to rearrange some things to make it happen.”
Immediately after taking the stage, the group was joined by Kendrick himself to perform a special version of the song, “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” by Leonard Cohen. The song was a fan-favorite with a standing ovation as Kendrick exited the stage.
Kendrick said, “There was a Colgate alumni event the night before that I attended and then spent some time hanging out and singing with the guys afterward at a friend’s house who was also in the group during my time. One of the current members thought it’d be cool if I surprised the community with that song, so we ran through it a few times and figured we could pull it off.”
After Kendrick stepped out of the spotlight, each of the 11 members took turns soloing and introducing themselves. Their set was airtight, as their introductions were incorporated into song, their majors ranging from Computer Science and Chemistry to a freshman member saying, “I don’t know what I’m going to study yet.”
They took the audience through a mixture of genres and made sure to include the Colgate alma mater. One of the most memorable moments was a solo serenade to Allie Roehm, who was celebrating her birthday on the day of their performance. “Fortunately, I was definitely expecting something to happen when I saw two of my friends run backstage before the show began. I was holding my breath,” said Allie. “I thought I was in the clear until they called out my name,” she continued.
“I have a tough time not being awkward when people sing the 20-second birthday song to me,, so when they sang 2 songs to me for over 6 minutes, it was a lot to handle,” she said. After the sheer shock and terror of the moment wore off and Allie was pulled on stage, she said that she decided, “it would be weirder to not go up so I just said ‘fudge it’ and started to dance.” Even after all that unexpected, terrifying attention, Allie said, “I have no complaints… honestly it was fun to be the celebrity for a day and have random freshmen I’ve never seen before say ‘happy birthday Allie’ to me in the halls.”
Through and through, students loved the performance. Senior Caroline Cummins, a rising Colgate freshman, said that “it was a shock to see them up there, but they were really good and really entertaining.” She even remembered seeing the Colgate 13 when she was moving her siblings into college.
“I loved them!” said sophomore Alanna Madry. “I thought they were super fun and interactive with the audience, which was the best part. It was also super fun to see one of our teachers sing with them because we always see students perform but never the teachers. I really hope they come again or we get someone else like them because they were so creative and worked so well with the audience,” Alanna said.
“Not much has changed! Certainly, they’ve added some new songs to the repertoire, but one of the hallmarks of the group that has been around for 78 years is there are a few songs that stay with the group each year, which allows for alumni to always stay connected with the current group. The song that I sang this year, ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’ is one of those tunes,” concluded Kendrick.