With songs ranging from Fleetwood Mac to Dua Lipa, from ballads to blues, the Princeton Tigerlilies gathered on campus Oct. 29 for their 50th anniversary concert, filling McCosh Hall with harmonies sung from the heart. The reunion culminated in a dinner held at Prospect House, where members from the group’s fledgling years reminisced and communed with Tigerlilies who followed in their footsteps.
Today, more than a dozen active a cappella groups on campus perform with a wide range of styles and identities. But the Tigerlilies, founded in 1971, only two years after the University admitted the first undergraduate women, was Princeton’s first female a cappella group.
“In our early years there existed a sense of having to break in and almost compete with the male a cappella culture,” Karen Hertz ’81 recalled. “In a lot of ways, our group paved the way for what we see on campus today.”
For many of the group’s early members, the lasting power of the Tigerlilies is something that they could not have imagined decades ago.
“It’s really astonishing to see how the enthusiasm for the Tigerlilies has lasted all this time. It’s truly amazing, and honestly a bit surreal,” said Rebecca Grunwald ’77. For Grunwald, this anniversary was truly a full circle moment as her daughter is currently president of the Tigerlilies.
“My first visit to a Tigerlilies event was actually in a baby carriage,” Callie Grunwald ’23 said during the concert’s opening remarks. “Before I even knew I wanted to go to Princeton, I first knew that I wanted to be a Tigerlily.”
Watch the Tigerlilies sing “How High the Moon” to close the concert:
Although after graduation the lives of members diverge into places diverse and distant, being a Tigerlily isn’t a membership that expires upon leaving campus.
“We are doctors, lawyers, librarians, cantors, journalists, and tech gurus, and stay-at-home mothers,” said Lori Etter ’91. “We’ve been married. We’ve been divorced. We’ve stayed single. We’ve had children and miscarriages. We’ve stayed child-free. We’ve had professional success and suffered from depression, anxiety, chronic diseases and cancer. And we’ve all traveled to be here this weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary.”
For many, the group was more than just an avenue for creative expression, providing a true sense of companionship and belonging.
Yakenya Cooper-Moise ’92 described how the Tigerlilies “spent Mondays through Thursdays every night together. These women become your best friends, and they’ve been friends for life.”
As the concert came to a close, the Tigerlilies ended the night with the group’s signature song, “How High the Moon.” Members of past and present classes joined on stage, arms around each other’s backs, their pitch rising to a swell of nostalgia, gratitude, and joy that filled the room.
“The spirit of the group really goes beyond the music,” said Hannah Bein ’22. “It’s love and sisterhood that infuses the music with all of its power.”