The Victory Eights: The Longest Continuing, Historically All-Female, Collegiate A cappella group in the Nation
The idea for the V8s was inspired by an event Abigail Halsey Van Allen (Class of ’44) attended at the Adams Memorial Theater at Williams College in the Spring of 1942. The concert she heard was given by the Williams quartet and the Bennington College double quartet. Throughout the performance she kept thinking: "Why don’t we have a group like this at Mount Holyoke?" Within a week of returning to campus, she had located seven classmates who were interested, and they began practicing the song "Sweet Sue." Thrilled by the sounds they were making and swooning from the dreams of all the fun that was in store for them, they bonded together and, from the start, were determined to succeed.
They practiced secretly until they had built up a repertoire that they could sing flawlessly. They then decided to name the octet. It was not related in any way to the Campbell Soup Company’s V8 vegetable juice, which didn’t come on to the market until 1948, six years after they invented the name. In the spring of 1942, only four months had passed since Pearl Harbor. Though in the depths of war, the country was not dominated by despair but, instead, was industriously working toward victory. Churchill’s raised index and middle fingers of his right hand, forming a V for Victory, was very pervasive. Victory became the spirit of the times. So, in keeping with the times, the V of V8s stood for Victory.
Spring 1942 was the official beginning of the V8s as an A Cappella group, and October 2nd, 1942 was our first public performance. 70 years later, the V8s remain as talented as ever, bringing pleasure to those who perform and those who watch and listen!