SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – On April 11th, toes start tapping to four-part harmony thanks to National Barbershop Quartet Day. Barbershop quartets have a way of making the heart flutter. Very often, they transport us back to a simpler time or at the least make it standstill. Barbershop quartets are a style of a cappella or unaccompanied vocal music. Their music features songs with understandable lyrics and easily singable melodies.
Between 1900 and 1919, barbershop music found its popularity. In the 1920s, it began to fade into obscurity. However, the barbershop quartet saw a revival when the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America was founded. This tongue twister of a men’s organization quickly grew, as did other similar organizations promoting barbershop music as an art form. Today, just under 25,000 men in the United States and Canada are members of the SPEBSQSA.
But men aren’t the only ones singing four-part harmony. Across the country, organizations like the Sweet Adelines bring women of all ages together, melding their voices together and making crowds swoon to fun tunes. Much like the men’s organizations, the women also compete. They tune their voices and rehearse while also performing locally.
HOW TO OBSERVE #BarbershopQuartetDay
• Do you have the pipes to harmonize with a quartet? Join a barbershop organization near you. Lend them your voice! You never know who you will meet or whose life you might impact with your music.
• Attend a barbershop event. They host performances throughout the year and provide excellent (often humorous) entertainment, too!
• Learn more about the history of the barbershop quartet. Read Four Parts, No Waiting by Gage Averill, or watch the documentary American Harmony directed by Aengus James.
• Read about On the Brink, a barbershop quartet out of Bismarck, North Dakota in Celebration Voices.
• Use #BarbershopQuartetDay to post on social media.
• Educators, visit the National Day Classroom for more information designed for the classroom.
NATIONAL BARBERSHOP QUARTET DAY HISTORY
The birthday of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America is April 11, 1938, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Founded by Rupert I. Hall and Owen Clifton Cash, prospective members were not even required to be able to sing. According to an article in a June 13, 1938, issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cash was quoted as saying, “All we ask is just that said prospective member THINK he can sing.”
Lighten Up Quartet featured performers:
Bruce Nakae – Tenor
Glen Merrell – Lead
Dean Davidson – Bass
John Lee Roring – Baritone
The quartet is part of a larger group called North Front Sound. Check them out online.