Instead of crowding the Alfond Center bleachers for basketball games, St. Joe's students in the 1960s gathered to listen to The Miss Demeanors, the college's all-female a capella group. Wearing navy polyester dresses, the singers entertained the campus with everything from rock 'n roll to show tunes to barber shop numbers. Directed by campus chaplain Father John Patrick Davis, the group toured the college circuit, but also performed in Boston and New York. They even appeared on the WMTW television competition "Talent Spotlight," where they came in second place to a rock band.
Shown in the photo are (left to right): Patricia Turgeon, Donna Delisle, Teresa Guest, Pauline Gingris, Janet Sanford, Barbara Newman, Bette Ann Baum and Nancy Delaney. The singing ensemble had various members over the years, most of whom graduated in the late '60s or early '70s.
Members Mary (Law) Lyons '70 and Teresa (Guest) Ayer '69 recall the exceptional harmony of The Miss Demeanors music. Lyons calls the group's harmony "a gift," and Ayer attributes this gift to their friendships. "There has to be harmony in the music and the people," she says. "The better the harmony of the group itself, the better the harmony of the music."
Barbara (Newman) Sullivan '68 remembers not only the octet's fabulous sound, but the fun they had traveling "all over the place" to sing. Many occasions were informal - think fraternity party - but sometimes they were paid for gigs.
Along with the group's performances with Rick Charette and the band Schooner Fare, the release of their album "Young and Foolish" generated a lot of buzz in the local community. Ayer remembers the group having dinner at local restaurants and deciding to perform one or two songs for the customers. "Often," she remembers, "the owners would pick up our check and thank us for singing."
John Lane, the audio director of WCSH-TV in nearby Portland, wrote a review on The Miss Demeanors in 1967. In it, he writes, "Well known in the New England area, [The Miss Demeanors] decided to let the world in on that tremendous something they have found - a blend, a personality, a harmony all of their own, wrapped up in a repertoire so varied you don't know what's coming next." Lane's review has nothing but praise for the group, and he calls them "surprising, delightful, 'Young and Foolish,' (maybe), but chock full of talent."
As Lane advises, "Take a deep breath and open your ears, world, The Miss Demeanors are singing an exciting new sound."
by Meloney Simpson '09