Princeton Katzenjammers

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The Princeton Katzenjammers
Also known asThe KJs
OriginPrinceton, NJ
GenresCollegiate a cappella
Years active1973–present

The Princeton Katzenjammers are the oldest co-educational collegiate a cappella group in the Ivy League.[1][2][3][4] The group consists of fourteen to eighteen Princeton University students and holds auditions at the beginning of each semester. Its repertoire includes a wide variety of musical styles, with an emphasis on jazz, pop, and classical.

Their fifth album, "Midnight Comes Around" (1995), earned the group nominations in all Mixed Collegiate categories of the 1996 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards,[5] winning the Best Arrangement award for Rick Hoffenberg '94's arrangement of Thelonious Monk's jazz standard "'Round Midnight," which was also selected for the "Best of College A Cappella" collection in 1996.[6][7] CASA declared it "one of the finest vocal jazz tracks ever recorded by a collegiate group."[8]

About the group[edit]

The group was founded by Peter Urquhart '74, a member of the Princeton Nassoons, and Mimi Danley '74, a member of the Princeton Tigerlilies, in 1973, the same year that undergraduate women first graduated from Princeton. The Katzenjammers joined four other Princeton a cappella singing groups in existence at the time: the Nassoons, Tigertones, Footnotes, and the Tigerlilies.[9] These groups, along with the Tigressions, the Wildcats, and the Roaring Twenty, form Acaprez, an organization of eight Princeton University a cappella groups that organize arch sings and abide by regulations regarding the audition process and song ownership.[10][11] The Katzenjammers have performed at numerous events on Princeton’s campus, in the surrounding community, across the United States and abroad. They participate in charitable events such as the 2014 "Sing Out for Shelter" benefit concert in Washington DC.[12]

Origin of the name[edit]

Peter Urquhart recalls, "Somehow the name Katzenjammer came up, was overlooked briefly, and then considered again. I looked it up in the OED, and got excited about the confusion of meanings: 1. distress, depression; 2. a hangover, or symptoms of one; 3. a discordant clamor; 4. enfants terribles, as in the Katzenjammer Kids from the cartoon strip. Images of wailing, drinking, trouble-making, cats, jamming, Katz: a little degenerate maybe, but otherwise perfect. That was it!"[13]


The Katzenjammer repertoire spans a wide range of genres, including jazz, classical, secular, sacred, folk, and pop music,[14] with over one hundred arrangements in the complete repertoire. Undergraduate members and alumni alike continue to contribute new arrangements at a regular pace. Two of Peter Urquhart's first arrangements written specifically for the Katzenjammers, "Ticket to Ride" and "Stoned Soul Picnic", remain traditional favorites and are always featured at reunions of Katzenjammer alumni.


With samples of selected tracks:

Recent Tours[edit]

The Katzenjammers tour both domestically and internationally, usually during Princeton's fall and spring breaks, and occasionally during Intersession in January, between the winter break and first semester examinations.

Notable alumni[edit]

Brooke Shields '87 auditioned for The Katzenjammers in the fall of 1983, but either declined a callback [20] or was rejected.[21][22]


Year Presenter Category Nomination Result
1996 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards of CASA Mixed Collegiate Best Album "Midnight Comes Around" Runner up
Mixed Collegiate Best Song "'Round Midnight" Runner up
Mixed Collegiate Best Arrangement "'Round Midnight" Winner
Mixed Collegiate Best Soloist Michelle Smith '96, "Do The Walls Come Down" Runner up


  1. ^ Axtell, James (2006). The Making of Princeton University: From Woodrow Wilson to the Present. Princeton University Press. p. 261. ISBN 9780691126869. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  2. ^ Rapkin, Mickey (2008). Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate a Cappella Glory. Gotham Books. p. 7. ISBN 159240376X. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  3. ^ Fraser, Alison (2005). Princeton University: Off the Record. College Prowler, Inc. p. 163. ISBN 9781596581005. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  4. ^ Quiñones, Eric (April 3, 2006). "A cappella group to present 'KatzenJam 2006,' April 8". News at Princeton. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  5. ^ "1996 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award Nominees". Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  6. ^ "BOCA: Best of College A Cappella Vol.1 & 2". Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  7. ^ "iTunes Preview: BOCA, Vol. 1 & 2: Best of College a Cappella". Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  8. ^ "1996 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award Winners". Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  9. ^ "Katzenjammer advertisement". Daily Princetonian. March 14, 1974. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  10. ^ Debenedetti, Gabriel (November 12, 2009). "Under the Arch: A Cappella, Acapolitics and Acaprez". Daily Princetonian. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  11. ^ King, Lin (October 9, 2013). "Our Aca-Article". Daily Princetonian. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  12. ^ "Sing Out for Shelter". Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  13. ^ "Katzenlore". Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  14. ^ "Repertoire - The Princeton Katzenjammers". Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  15. ^ "Time to Jam Out to a New Single". Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  16. ^ "iTunes Preview: I Want It To Be - Single". Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  17. ^ "The Princeton Katzenjammers in Paris". Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  18. ^ Mavissakalian, Michele (March 2001). "English Speaking Paris". Paris Voice. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  19. ^ "Meet Ben Taub of Team Cee Lo Green on The Voice". September 25, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  20. ^ Bricker, Rebecca (October 10, 1983). "Take One". People. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  21. ^ Purdum, Todd (May 8, 2008). "A Cappella is Piping Up Everywhere". Vanity Fair. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  22. ^ "Jessica Biel sings". April 7, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2014.

External links[edit]