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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Musical group fosters friendship, family and fun

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Members of the Covered Bridge Country Chorus were practicing Monday night preparing for their annual show on Oct. 13 at Tzouanakis.
Amid lots of laughter and questions the 30-member Covered Bridge Country Chorus (CBCC) sang their way through a repertoire of songs while practicing for their annual show on Oct. 13.

From the sheer dedication of memorizing songs and learning to harmonize in true barbershop quartet style, the love these women feel for their craft bursts forth in song.

A chapter of the larger barbershop group Harmony, Inc., CBCC began with a group of four women five years ago. It has grown to more than 30 members with the youngest being 9 years old.

The group already has a history of bringing generations together. They have at least three mother-daughter groups and even one mother, daughter and granddaughter who are members. They are dedicated to the performance, promotion and preservation of four-part harmony in barbershop style.

According to Kathy Custis, one of the founding members of the Covered Bridge Country Chorus, "It is a celebration of friendship, personal growth and development through music and leadership education."

The group broke off from the Sweet Adeline's in Terre Haute five years ago and joined Harmony Incorporated, a non-profit, educational, singing society for women. Its purpose is to educate members in the art of singing four-part harmony (barbershop style) as well as to organize and maintain choruses. They give public and private performances, sponsor contests and promote interest and appreciation of barbershop harmony and friendship among all women.

Barbershop harmony is a style of a cappella, or unaccompanied vocal music characterized by four-part chords for every melody note. Each of the four parts has its own role: generally, the lead sings the melody, the tenor harmonizes above the melody, the bass sings the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritone completes the chord.

Barbershop harmony was actually sung in barbershops, and on street corners (it was sometimes called "curbstone" harmony). It was commonly sung at social functions and in parlors.

Its roots are not just white, middle American, rather, barbershop is a "melting pot" product of African-American immigrants who brought with them a musical repertoire that included hymns, psalms, and folk songs. These simple songs were often sung in four parts with the melody set in the second-lowest voice.

The first written use of the word "barbershop" when referring to harmonizing came in 1910, with the publication of the song, "Play That Barbershop Chord."

The songwriters of Tin Pan Alley made their living appealing to the needs and tastes of musicians. To become a sheet music hit, songs had to be easy to sing for average singers, with average vocal ranges and average control.

This required songs with simple, straightforward melodies, and heartfelt, commonplace themes and images. Barbershop style fit the bill and obviously remains popular today.

Tickets are $10 per adult, $5 for children 3-10 years old. There is no charge for children under 3 years of age. Dinner is at 6 p.m. and the show is at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door or by contacting any member.

The group meets every Monday night usually at the Greencastle Middle School at 7 p.m. Information is available on their website at www.coveredbridgechorus.org or call 653-3932.

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