Is it all true? maybe not, but it's close enough
FOUNDED IN 1988 BY MICHAEL HANDLER , TALKING HEAD '90, AND FIRST PERFORMING ON CAMPUS IN EARLY 1989, THE PENNCHANTS WERE CREATED AS A EXTENSION TO THE PENN GLEE CLUB. MUCH LIKE PENN PIPERS, THE PENNCHANTS WERE PURPOSED TO PROVIDE NEW VOCAL OPPORTUNITIES TO MEMBERS OF THE CLUB WHO WANTED TO BRANCH OUT FROM THE GLEE CLUB'S TRADITIONAL CHORAL MUSIC. FOR THE PENN PIPERS, THIS MUSICAL EXPLORATION TOOK THE FORM OF BARBER SHOP. FOR THE PENNCHANTS, A UNIQUE GENRE WAS CHOSEN: "THE SONGS OF OUR CHILDHOOD." SINGING EARLY 80'S AND LATE 70'S HITS, THE GROUP CHOSE SEVERAL ANTHEMS THAT ARE SUNG IN THE GROUP TO THIS DAY, INLCUDING JESSIE'S GIRL (1981), I WANT YOU BACK (1969), AND THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT (1961).
note: The name "Pennchants" was gifted down by the Glee Club after its first usage in the club, the "PennChants Four," an instrument-supported folk/vocal quartet, went defunct in 1978.
IN EARLY 1990, THE GROUP TOOK TO THE PALESTRA FLOOR FOR A “FRIENDLY” A CAPELLA COMPETITION BETWEEN ALL CAMPUS GROUPS. FLEXING TWO YEARS OF HONED ARRANGEMENTS AND CHOREOGRAPHY FROM THEIR PHILLY AND TRAVELING GIGS, THE PENNCHANTS WON THE FIRST-PLACE TROPHY.
note: 1990 was the last year that hosted a University of Pennsylvania a cappella
THE TURN OF THE MILLENIA PRESENTED A UNIQUE SITUATION FOR THE LEADERSHIP OF THE PENNCHANTS. BRUCE MONTGOMERY, THE DIRECTOR OF THE GLEE CLUB SINCE 1956 HAD JUST RETIRED FROM HIS POST AFTER OVER 40 YEARS LEADING THE CLUB. FACING TRANSITIONAL UNCERTAINTY, CONVERSATIONS REGARDING RESTRUCTING BEGAN WITHIN THE GLEE CLUB. AT THE SAME TIME, MEMBERS OF THE PENNCHANTS EXPRESSED INTEREST IN TAKING THE GROUP MORE SERIOUSLY BY INCREASING REHEARSAL TIME AND TAKING ON LARGER PROJECTS, SUCH AS A STUDIO RECORDINGS AND BIGGER CONCERTS. IN A MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL ARRANGEMENT, THE PENNCHANTS SPUN OFF FROM THE GLEE CLUB, RELINQUISHING CONTROL OF THE GROUP TO THE TALKING HEAD.
note: While no longer an arm of the Glee Club, membership overlap thrives to this day, with roughly 1/4 of the group doubling membership with the club on a given semester. Upwards of 5 Pennchants Music Directors have been Penn Glee Club Presidents throughout the years.
IN A PRESENTATION AT AN "ALL PENNCHANTS" MEETING, THEN TALKING HEAD FORREST MILBURN '16 ANNOUNCED THE GROUP WOULD NEED TO MAKE CHANGES TO THE BRAND IF IT WANTED TO GAIN CAMPUS, PHILADELPHIA, AND NATIONAL RECOGNITION. AT THE TIME, THE GROUP PEFROMED IN COSTUME AT ALL TIMES, MUCH LIKE THE FIRST A CAPPELLA GROUP AT PENN, PENNSYLVANIA SIX-5000. PULLING FROM JAKE MEINER, TALKING HEAD '14'S COSTUME, THE NEW UNIFORM WAS CRAFTED: A MEMBERS ONLY JACKET, BLACK SKINNY TIE, JEANS, CONVERSE HIGH TOPS, AND A PAIR OF FUN SOCKS. IN THE SAME BRANDING OVERHAUL, MILBURN BROUGHT THE GROUP ITS NOW-ICONIC LOGO VISIBLE AT THE TOP OF THIS SITE.
note: The group did not become sponsored by Members Only until the Spring of 2019, at which point the group's name fell onto the desk of the 80's brand CEO. Ever since, the partnership has been thriving.