Rural Missouri - July 2011 - (Page 26)

Heart of America Chorus Director David Krause coaxes better harmony at a practice session. This Kansas City-based group is one of several barbershop groups in Missouri. by Jim McCarty arbershops once had a purpose beyond haircuts. They were the “man caves” of the Victorian era, a place where men could escape and fraternize with other members of their gender. In those simple times before ESPN, singing was the chief form of entertainment. And it probably didn’t take long for the men to discover they could harmonize in a beautiful way. Barbershop quartets began, and men filled their leisure hours blending notes in four-part harmony. Like jazz and the blues, this music genre became a unique American tradition. Blame it on the automobile or other forms of entertainment. Whatever the cause, barbershop music had just about died when two Tulsa businessmen met in Kansas City’s Muehlebach Hotel in 1938. The two lamented the fact that the music they loved — songs such as “My Wild Irish Rose” and “Sweet Adeline” — was no longer being sung. This chance encounter led to the formation of an organization that today is known as the Barbershop Harmony Society. The first chapter formed in Tulsa. The second was Kansas City’s Heart of America Chorus. Besides the Kansas City group, Missouri is home to barbershop groups in Hillsboro, Florissant, St. Joseph, St. Louis, Springfield, St. Charles, Columbia, Jefferson City and Joplin. Today, the Heart of America Chorus meets every Tuesday at St. Peters United Church of Christ in Kansas City. Walk into one of the rehearsals, and B Harmony Heart of America Chorus keeps barbershop music tradition alive World is Mine.” you will be greeted by Later, quartets men from every walk of split off to practice or life. (Women have their impromptu foursomes own barbershop groups.) Hear a barbershop quartet form to sing “tags,” or “We are looking in our online edition at portions of songs where for guys who like to the singers try to match sing,” says Jim Bagby, each other’s pitch. a 50-year veteran of the chorus and “What I like is the resonation of the group’s director emeritus. “The the opposing notes and chords,” says great thing about this hobby, if you Dave Jobe, a member of West Central like to sing and know the notes, you Electric Cooperative from Odessa. can get together with three other guys “Whether it’s four people or 120 singand make some sound. They don’t ing different parts, it creates a resoask what you do. They ask what you nation that lets the listener hear oversing.” tones and undertones that makes it The music these men create comes seem like there are six parts. This style from the human voice only. There are of music puts me in a special place.” no instruments accompanying them. Like many members of the chorus, Instead, four octave ranges — tenor, Dave joined to meet new people after lead, bass and baritone — combine to taking a job in Kansas City where produce an amazing sound that ends he didn’t know anyone. “The way I up being greater than its parts. decided to go out and make friends On rehearsal nights, director David was to join this barbershop chorus,” Krause works to get the perfect pitch he says. “We are kind of like family from each member of the large choactually. We know what’s going on in rus, which might have as many as 100 each other’s lives, and we know when voices. Despite the air conditioning, someone goes in the hospital and we he’s soon wringing wet with sweat take the time to go visit.” as he works the singers through an While some of the singers have old standard called “Love Me and the degrees in music or sing professionally, most just love to sing. “I would be among those,” says Jeff Wolff of Grain Valley, the chorus membership chairman. “I work for myself. I’ve got two kids under the age of 5 and another one on the way. I was looking for some social interaction, certainly. It’s a hobby, that’s the best way to describe it.” Jeff says those who want to join the chorus must audition to show they can uphold the high standards of this group, which performs in competitions. “The audition consists of singing a relatively simple barbershop song in a quartet setting, where you are the only member on your part. It exposes you to learning your part and carrying it through the song.” Besides making beautiful music, the Heart of America Chorus does a lot of good for the community. In December, members sing to raise money for the Salvation Army. The $6,000 to $12,000 they bring in represents the largest single-day fundraiser for the area Salvation Army. On Valentine’s Day, members do singing valentines with proceeds going to Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospital. “We are really proud of that,” Dave says. “Our music touches a lot of lives in a lot of different ways. We connect with the music, and it touches a special place in everyone.” You can hear the sounds of thousands of barbershop singers when Kansas City hosts the Barbershop Harmony Society’s international convention July 3-10. For more information on the event, log on to, where you also can find contacts for Missouri chapters. 26 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2011

Rural Missouri - July 2011
Table of Contents
Raising the Great White Arabia
Now showing: rural broadband
Missouri snapshots
Out of the Way Eats
The changing tide
Pyrotechnic pros
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Sting of relief
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - July 2011