Founded over fifty years ago, The Chattertocks of Brown University, together with the Smiffenpoofs of Smith College, the V8s of Mt. Holyoke College and the Mischords of Middlebury College, is one of the oldest women's college a cappella singing groups in the United States.
Nancy Tobin, Dorothy Senerchia, Pembroke College (Brown University) class of 1955, together with the late Helen Johnson, also class of 1955, founded the Chattertocks women's a cappella group in 1951. The group was started by members of the dormitory, Sharpe House, as a parody of the Brown Jabberwocks, the men's a cappella group. The Jabberwocks were rehearsing for an inter-dormitory talent competition. Intent on winning first place, they kept to a strict rehearsal schedule. The ladies were annoyed that their boyfriends were more concerned with rehearsing than spending time with them. They formed the Chattertocks, as a parody of the Jabberwocks, and as such performed in men's grey flannel suits, white button-down oxford shirts, striped ties and white buck shoes. They rehearsed their own song for the talent show, and won first place.
No longer performing in grey flannel suits, the group has continued to grow and evolve with the changing times. The Chattertocks started recording early on with a number of vinyl albums. In the mid-1960s they added guitar and percussion back-up, both common for college singing groups. In 1982 they added choreography and comedy skits to their concerts.
A tradition for the Chattertocks has been performing "The Twelve Days of Christmas (song)" in Latin at the annual Brown University Latin Carol Service, established in 1948. “Duodecem Dies Natalis” was translated into Latin by Eunice Burr Couch and to this day is performed by “Grex Chattertockarum,” literally, the "Herd of Chattertocks."
Another Chattertocks tradition is performing with The Brown Derbies in their annual concert, "Smoked Salomon," which occurs every September in Salomon Hall. The Chattertocks traditionally perform "S/NC," a parody of Brown's school culture and non-traditional grading system set to the tune of The Beatles' "Let It Be."
The Chattertocks have recorded several CDs and have competed successfully in the National Championship of College A Cappella (NCCA) since the competition's inception in 1996. In 1998 the Chattertocks were in the NCCA finals, which were held in Carnegie Hall. In more recent years, the Chattertocks have maintained their rich tradition of excellence, taking home "Best Album" and "Best Song" in the 2004 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards. Their 2003 CD, "All Modesty Aside," won an award for best female collegiate album. Most recently the Chattertocks were selected to be on the "Best of College A Cappella" CD of 2011, juried and chosen by Varsity Vocals.
Today the group performs at colleges around the country appearing on campuses and local television stations. They have produced nine CDs with their signature song, "My Funny Valentine" by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart appearing on each one.
Several of their alumnae, such as Gwyneth Walker (composer), Susan C. Bennett (commercial vocalist), Ellen Turner Harris, (Professor of Music at Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Stephanie Cotsirillos (performer) have gone on to become successful musicians and performers.