The Cayuga's Waiters, established in 1949, are the oldest collegiate a cappella ensemble at Cornell University. They have been temporaily suspended by the university, pending the completition of an investigation for "possible violations of the Campus Code of Conduct."
The Waiters formed as a subset of the Cornell University Glee Club in 1949 and debuted at the Glee Club's 1950 Junior Week concert.:239 Although dressed in standard Glee Club attire (a tuxedo), they distinguished themselves from other Glee Club members by draping towels over their arms—a visual pun on their ensemble's name. Their repertoire included such popular songs as "Mood Indigo", "Mandy", "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye", and "Lord, If I Get My Ticket".:239 By 1951, the group had become much in demand on campus for singing engagements, and they were also enthusiastically received by audiences when on tour with the Glee Club.:239
The early 1950s were a busy and tumultuous period, as the young group had inadvertently stumbled into an entirely new industry. As Michael Slon wrote in his history of the Glee Club:
Prior to the Waiters the regimen of small group singing, traveling, and recording, completely familiar today, did not exist at Cornell. Not realizing they were pioneers, the new triple quartet set out by accepting local engagements on top of their Glee Club duties and soon found their popularity and activity were snowballing.:240
In 1953, the Waiters conducted their first independent tour—to Bermuda's Harbor Castle Hotel—over the winter holidays, and in the same year, they recorded and cut their first record. In 1956, the Waiters decided they could no longer split their efforts between choral and small group singing and dissociated from the Glee Club. Despite the shock of disassociation, both organizations went on to enjoy enormous success throughout the remainder of the 20th century.
In 1974, The Waiters performed their first annual "Spring Fever" concert. This show still takes place annually in the 1,300 seat Bailey Hall, and has sold out for the past 35 years. The show has been mentioned on various blogs, including Slope Media, which described the show as "taking [...] A Cappella to another level"
In the mid 1990s, The Waiters wrote a parody to the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire". Their Parody garnered critical acclaim, claiming the #4 spot on Cornell's "161 Things to Do" list. The song has received nearly 100,000 views on YouTube and has inspired other groups to create parodies based on the same song
In 2000, shortly after its 50th anniversary, the ensemble made archival recordings of its albums available online.
The 2012 sleeper hit movie "Pitch Perfect" was based on Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, a non-fiction book written by alumnus Mickey Rapkin '00.
In 2016 the Waiters were temporarily suspended by Cornell's Office of the Judicial Administrator for possible violations of the Campus Code of Conduct. The Waiters are currently being investigated, and may be reinstated pending the investigations completion.
The Waiters have produced 25 albums in their 66-year tradition:
As a Glee Club subset:Cayuga's Waiters 51-52 (1952)
Cayuga's Waiters 53-54 (1954)
Cayuga's Waiters 54-55 (1955)
As an independent organization:Cocktails For Twelve (1959)
Goodnight Little Girl (1961)
Presenting Cayuga's Waiters (1963)
Just Waitin' (1964)
Lost In The Sound (1968)
Still Waitin' (1975)
Waitin' For You (1976)
Straight Break (1977)
12° North (1983)
Laughed Out of Town (1986)
Maintaining the Illusion (1989)
Niko's Cafe (1993)
Live and Kicking (1996)
Channel Zero (1998)
Clothing Optional (1999)
Straight Outta C-town (2001)
Spring Fever 28 Ticket CD (2002)
The Forgotten Room (2003)
Wednesday Night (2007)
Nothing Wrong (2015)