I always thought Barbershop music was for men with handlebar mustaches, who sang songs only my grandmother knew. But when I started to miss the fun of my high school chorus, I decided to visit a local chorus’ open house to see if I could find the same kind of group. I’m so glad I visited them. If you love a capella harmony, make sure to give the women of Barbershop a look. It’s not just for men anymore!
Sweet Adelines International
Sweet Adelines International is the largest women’s barbershop organization in the world, 20,000+ members and growing! A licensed 501c3 organization, their primary mission is to advance the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education and performance. In my 20 years with the organization I can say, these ladies do that and more! “Barbershoppers” can be found around the world, including Canada, Sweden, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and in pretty much every state in the US. If you want a way to meet others who share your love of singing, check out SAI’s chorus finder and visit a chapter near you!
Through their Young Singers Foundation and Young Women in Harmony, the organization is doing all it can to ensure that a capella music, and harmony is alive and well for all in spite of cutbacks to the arts in school programs.
In addition, members have access to classes in such areas as Music Theory, Directing, Choreography, Marketing, and Voice/Performing. Pursuing a Director’s or Judging Certification, is also available at no additional cost to the member. While Sweet Adelines is about the music, there are many areas that contribute to a performance. Any member can have access and be involved with the music in whatever way suits her best.
As a way to measure progress and quality, annual competitions are held regionally. Winners at the regional level go on to compete at the International level. The International Competition is held at the annual convention,with an International Champion Chorus and Quartet being selected from the competitors. Trophies, crowns and much recognition is given, not only to the winners, but to the many participants.
And last but not least, the music
Yes, those golden oldies are a feature of Barbershop music because of their solid melody lines and ease of arranging in the four part chord structure that is the trademark of a good Barbershop song. But these days you’re just as likely to hear Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Yesterday by The Beatles, or Katy Perry’s Firework being sung by a chorus or quartet. Barbershop harmony, as with any true form of folk art, changes with the times. But the four part harmonies are always there, making it true barbershop.
If you like to sing, but figured opportunities for that were only available to school kids, think again. Sweet Adelines International is open to women, young and old. Visit a chorus soon and see if a life of sequins, dancing and singing is waiting for you!
Sweet Adelines International