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May 13, 2009

US songbirds in perfect Barbershop harmony


Clad in sequined costumes, fake eyelashes and lots of lipstick, more than 1,000 women descend every year on a US east coast seaside town to compare not their good looks, but their beauty in song.

These fans of women's Barbershop -- a distinctly American style of a cappella singing in four parts -- don't stay hidden for long when 1,200 of them invade the streets of Ocean City, Maryland, dressed in florescent gowns and frilly satin dresses that recall the golden age of the American 1950s.

Across the United States every year, in regional and national Barbershop contests, competing choruses and quartets offer ballads and harmonies for four voices in various styles -- jazz, Broadway show tunes and folk songs -- even comic music.

"It is truly a rewarding and yet bizarre experience. Hundreds of predominantly middle-aged women, who love to sing, transform themselves using glitter, rhinestones, hairspray and heavy makeup and take the stage," said Joanne Diamond, a singer for four years with the Capital Accord Chorus, a Barbershop choir in Washington northern suburbs.

"We squeeze into shoes that make walking a painful experience and wear undergarments to ensure that nothing jiggles.

"As we approach the stage, the discomfort of our attire dissipates, and our hearts start to race. We become 'show people,'" she said, looking on excitedly as the judges listened to a group's Gershwin ballad. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at May 13, 2009 10:05 PM


Not just in the USA! There are two ladies barbershop organisations that hold their conventions in various parts of the UK. Sweet Adelines Region 31 held theirs last weekend in Newcastle and LABBS (Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers) will be gathering their choruses and quartets together at Cheltenham Race Course at the end of October. The glitter and false eyelashes will be on display just the same and the same ringing chords will be heard all around the convention centre singing all the old songs. It will be a joyous occasion. And prior to that there will be a Sunday Night at the London Palladium on September 20th.
Tickets available from the Palladium Box Office 0844 412 4657. See you there?

Posted by: JEAN DIGBY at May 16, 2009 10:35 AM

Hey John - thanks for the article. You should check out www.stlharmony.org. This chorus is directed by Sandi Wright and sings many of barbershop genius David Wright's arrangements.
They're preparing a whole package of songs from shows that Bob Fosse choreographed, right now.

Great stage energy, rapport, and progressive nature all with about 30 women under 30 (85 in the chorus). It's TODAY's barbershop!

Let me know if you'd like to follow up with a story.

Sharing the joy of singing --- Tina

Posted by: Tina at May 19, 2009 1:04 PM

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