The Michigan State University Men’s Glee Club, or rather The Singing Statesmen, as they were called at the time, died a slow death in the early 70’s. In 1977, MSU hired choral director Paul Schultz to reincarnate them.
Schultz hand picked the group, known today as the Spartan Dischords, as a subset of the Statesmen. Dischord repertoire was intended to add contrast to the classical style of The Statesmen. All Statesmen concerts were held at the Lutheran church on Harrison Road, where Dischords were featured for a few numbers. This is where the public got their first glimpse of the Spartan Dischords.
In 1982, Dr. Michelson had taken over the Statesmen. He was extremely encouraging of Dischords, and actually used to accompany the group on piano in the early days on songs like “Grand Ol’ Ivy”, “There is Nothing like a Dame”, “Rubber Ducky”, and “Sweet Violets.”
By 1984, the Wharton Center had been built, and the Dischords started doing “Pre-Show” concerts. Though arguably lame by today’s standards, Dischords had the freedom to pull stunts that the Glee Club was too formal to try.
Although singing strictly a cappella today, Dischords did not perform exclusively a cappella until 1991. “For the Longest Time” is the very first doo-wop a cappella number ever performed by the Dischords. This early set also included “Let Her Sleep Under the Bar” and “Ragtime Cowboy Joe.”
The group was off to a good start, but did not seem to be getting the opportunity to really shine. They were a subset of the Men’s Glee Club; a gimmick that appeared a couple times a semester at club functions, but nothing more. It wasn’t until a core group formed in 1985 that things started to happen.
Some of the guys started hanging out outside of clubs, often meeting over at local bar Crunchy’s. It is here that the motto “A Fine Blend of Harmony and Humor” came to be. Soon the group began having impromptu practices in the courtyard, near Beaumont Tower; pretty much anywhere they could get together. After a while, the Dischords began singing for tailgaters on football Saturdays.
With such success singing at tailgates, Dischords decided to branch out. They sang for everyone from the 4H club in Clare to the National Turf and Grass Association to private Spartans parties and even Michigan State related events across the border in Canada. As word got out and a good reputation spread, the Dischords began profitting from performances. During the ’88-’89 school year, the Dischords booked and performed over 75 shows and “loved almost every one of them.” The first album, on cassette of course, immediately followed in 1990.
By 1993, the group started to resemble a small business, and was growing in popularity by singing whenever and wherever they could. Dischords wrote up a charter to become a Registered Student Organization. This helped to fund the rental of the Breslin Auditorium, where their spring concert was to be held.
Nervous about getting anyone to attend, they gave concert tickets away for free and started what is known today as “dorm gig,” (singing on girls’ sides of the on-campus dorms) to drum up interest. The concert was a huge success, and the Dischords have put on an annual spring concert ever since now dubbed as “Big Show.”
Today, the Spartan Dischords remain the oldest acapella group on Michigan State’s campus and have traveled the world performing at universities, large corporations and global studios. The Spartan Dischords continue to move forward, while still holding sacred the group’s long standing traditions. In addition to Accapalooza, which features all of MSU’s a cappella ensembles, the Dischords perform annual Holiday, Valentine’s Day, and Spring concerts to sold out crowds right here at MSU. With an average of 35-50 performances a semester, the Dischords travel wherever duty calls, and continue to spread their music, entertainment, and insanity all over campus, the state, and the world!
With music as our backbone and an above-all devotion to entertainment, the Dischords will carry on our tradition for years to come.
We cannot wait to sing for you!
The Dischords hold a vast alumni network that has been built strong by over 40 years worth of fine men. Graduates from the Dischords have found success in nearly every industry. Many former Dischords still find ways to perform and celebrate their talents today. Notable alumni have been given the opportunity to travel the country in bands and with production companies.
A 40th Anniversary Concert was held in April of 2022 that saw over 100 Dischords from 4 different generations return to East Lansing for a sold-out show!