Westminster Chorus Brings Barbershop To The Choral Community
Friday, 07 March 2014 20:59
The Society's own Westminster Chorus from Westminster, CA recently had the privilege of performing for the Western Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. This is a huge honor for any chorus, let alone, a barbershop chorus. The chorus was honored to have received a surprisingly overwhelming embrace and acclaim by the choral community. Here is the story of that day as capured by chorus member Shawn York.
In the chorus' own words:
Thrilled, honored, and blessed by the reception we received this evening at the ACDA conference - a standing ovation that continued until the very last man had left the stage. For years, we have seen a great respect and appreciation for choral music, by the barbershop community. Today, we got to experience a great respect and appreciation for barbershop music, by the choral community. Here's to a great relationship between the BHS and ACDA!! We are humbled and thankful to have had this opportunity.
Westminster Chorus poses with Sydney Guillaume, composer of one of the pieces the chorus performed for the ACDA Conference.
Learn more about Westminster on their official Facebook page
Jimmy Fallon Does It Again... Again
Friday, 07 March 2014 19:39
Once again, comedian and new host of The Late Show Jimmy Fallon adopted the Barbershop art form to deliver a rendition of what could perhaps be described as the LAST
song you would consider "well-suited for Barbershop". But nonetheless, the Ragtime Gals
starring Jimmy Fallon and his band of merry mates expertly executed a four-part a cappella close-harmony rendition of the R. Kelly classic "Ignition (Remix).
(To save time for the author, the previous Ragtime Gals article's main content has been lifted and republished here, simply because, hey, it still applies!)
Honestly, to see our Barbershop style treated with such bold and fearless irreverence is nothing new to anyone who’s been around for the past half century or so. Those who hold this art form near and dear, time and again have seen the likes of the Beatles, Jerry Lewis, the Simpsons, Family Guy, David Letterman, and Conan O’Brien (just to name a few) reach for the low hanging fruit of comedic juxtaposition and attempt to frame the modern against the old. Painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa, if you will.
However, questions of taste and style notwithstanding, The Rag Time Gals and others like them are ironically proving to the world the inherent entertainment value of joining together in four part harmony and delivering a message, vulgar or not. It’s Vaudeville, today. And either to the joy or dismay of our Society membership, it’s being presented to the world as barbershop, and right or wrong, television audiences are accepting that it is, indeed, barbershop.
So, important questions impossible to answer in the small space of this meager editorial get raised: Is barbershop simply an art form? Is it a set of values and ideals? For the lifelong fans and committed members of the Barbershop Harmony Society, it’s probably both and much more. But then there’s the harsh realization that to the vast majority of the uninitiated masses, Barbershop is a rag tag group of lowbrow comedians singing Barbershopped R&B music in top hats and suspenders.
The good news is that they sounded pretty good while doing it.
But the even better news is that the Barbershop Harmony Society has been bringing together the Old and New for over 75 years, and we’ve gotten really good at it! One visit to any of our International conventions will prove this to anyone, and the more people that have the chance to see Barbershop through this lens will begin to understand not just the smile-inducing power of four part harmony, but its trans-formative power to change lives for the better.
Click here to watch the video
Lengendary Fairfield Four Visits Society Headquarters
Friday, 07 March 2014 18:56
Once again, the Society's headquarters building was graced by phenomenally talented guests, this time by the legendary Fairfield Four. They even treated the unsuspecting staff with a performance of a signature song.
The Fairfield Four is a Nashville-based Gospel music singing ensemble that has been entertaining audiences since 1921. The Fairfield Four has won numerous awards over its 90 year existance and was featured in the major motion pictures Oh Brother Where Art Thou
Fairfield Four's notable awards:
National Endowment for the Arts, National Heritage Award, 1989
Tennessee Lifetime Achievement Award, 1994
Nashville Music Award Lifetime Achievement Award, 1995
James Cleveland Stellar Award, 1996
Grammy Award, Best Traditional Gospel Recording, for I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray, 1997
Gospel Music Hall of Fame, inducted in 1999
NFL Pro-bowler Ryan Kahil Delivers Message Via Barbershop
Friday, 07 March 2014 18:24
From the official Carolina Panthers Facebook page
Ryan Kahil closed out fellow Panther Jordan Gross' retirement press conference with a barbershop quartet performance. Happy Trails, Jordan.
Here's the story as provided by the quartet:
Ryan Kalil called Ben Mills, the tenor of Zero Hour (2013 Carolinas District quartet champions) on Wednesday, February 19th and mentioned that he had been watching videos of the quartet online, was very impressed and would love to hire them for a special event. He first just referred to himself as "Ryan." Before knowing who Ryan was, Ben thought that this would definitely be too short of notice to pull the entire quartet together. Ryan then mentioned that he was a football player and Ben quickly realized that it was Ryan Kalil, 4-time Pro Bowl center for the Carolina Panthers. Now he had Ben's attention.
Ryan then mentioned that a teammate and close friend of his was going to be announcing his retirement next week and that there would be a press conference at the stadium in up-town Charlotte on Wednesday, February 26th. The official news that Jordan Gross (3-time Pro Bowl Tackle) was retiring had not been released to the media yet, and the quartet was asked to keep it a secret. Ryan and Jordan have been teammates and friends for 7-8 years and apparently had a long history of pranking each other and finding creative ways to embarrass one another. So, Ryan had an idea for one last parting shot. Ryan mentioned to Ben that he had some special lyrics to the tune of "Happy Trails" that he thought would fit well. Ben arranged the short song on Thursday, February 20th, with the new lyrics and even recorded a learning track for Ryan to work on, per Ryan's request. Ryan asked if he could join Zero Hour at their next upcoming rehearsal on Sunday, February 23rd and they of course said that he could. Ryan showed up and rehearsed with Zero Hour for over an hour in order to get the song ready to go. Ryan had clearly listened to his learning track and was singing great.
Ryan brought the 3 members of Zero Hour that would be singing (Scot Gregg -bass, Mark Rodda - baritone, and Ben Mills – tenor) into Bank of America Stadium about 1 hour prior to the press conference and practiced again with them up in the owner's private suite, which was another very cool part of the experience. Ryan mentioned that he had never even been invited to visit the owner's suite! Ryan was incredibly nervous during the final run-throughs. He mentioned that he had never been so nervous, not even before an NFL playoff game.
Finally the press conference was near. Scot, Mark and Ben were staged as reporters and strategically sat in the press pool with note pads trying to appear like they belonged there. After the speeches, many of which were very emotional, Jordan Gross opened it up to the media for questions. Ben quickly stood up as instructed by Ryan, and told Jordan that he had a quote from one of his teammates and that he wanted to get his response. The rest as they say is history and on the video. Ryan was very emotional during the first part of the song and almost lost it, but he quickly recovered and finished strongly! It was a great event and Zero Hour was so happy to be a part of this special moment in Carolina Panthers history!
Below is a brief video the quartet assembled of their time with Ryan in rehearsal
Gross Farewell Practice from JLNIII on Vimeo.
Zero Hour quartet poses with retiring Carolina Panther Jordan Gross, following their impromptu performance at his retirement press conference