Purduettes Celebrate 80th Anniversary

Picture of Purduettes outside Elliott Hall in 1960's

Purduettes outside Elliott Hall in 1960's.

80 years after the original group of 13 Purduettes was formed, PMO was proud to commemorate another momentous occasion in the ensemble’s history.

All Purduettes alumni and friends were invited to celebrate the Purduettes 80th Anniversary on September 9-10, 2022.

Beginning with the first Purduettes performance of the year, the anniversary weekend commenced with the Purduettes Premiere Concert on Friday, September 9 in Loeb Playhouse on Purdue’s campus, bringing in over 700 attendees.

Purduettes alumni and guests attended an afterglow reception following the concert held at the Purdue Memorial Union’s East Terrace to reconnect with friends and to meet the current members of the ensemble.

On Saturday, September 10, Purduettes, alumni, family, and friends were invited to swing by Ralph and Bettye Bailey Hall before the Purdue versus Indiana State football game for a tailgate, catered by local eatery Guac Box.

The weekend celebration ended with a dinner at Purdue Memorial Union’s North Ballroom following the game. As caterers set salads, Director Jeff Vallier introduced Purduettes alumnus Miriam “Mimi” Epple Heath who spoke about her experience as a member of the original 1942 ensemble. Mimi set the scene (“It was [1942] … so all our efforts were geared towards the winning of the war”) then touched on the origins of the ensemble (“[Purdue] had the Glee Club but they vanished because most of them went to the military”). The Purduettes performed at various war bond events to keep spirits raised during this era, Mimi confessed how performing for soldiers visiting home was “just the greatest.”

Guests took bites of dressed heirloom tomato between sips of water but never averted their attention from the 97-year-old Purduette as she continued with her story about meeting one of those soldiers—her late husband—who she met on the first day of his week of military leave. She’d go on to see him six more days that week.

“It’s a pleasure to be here tonight and see all these lovely people and hear the amazing Purduettes,” Mimi concluded, surrounded by her family and friends. “Thank you and enjoy every note that you sing.”

After Mimi’s speech, dinner was served as Purduettes Specialty Groups (The Lonely Hearts, The Remedy, and The Purduette Trio) serenaded guests. Their performances featured a mix of songs from beloved a capella standards to a captivating rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Dessert plates came and went. The sound of laughter and remember when's filled the room. As the event drew to a close, guests made sooner-than-later plans to meet up again before saying goodbye for the night, but together forever in song.