The town of Sackville, N.B. was anything but quiet on Friday as more than 200 female barbershop singers from across Atlantic Canada belted out tunes to warm up their voices as they prepared for the Colour our World Area Convention and Contests.
The event is taking place June 1-4 and will provide women the opportunity to share the joy of barbershop singing, while learning more about the craft and taking part in quartet and chorus competitions, with the actual face-offs taking place Friday.
Modern barbershop harmony was revived in the southern U.S. back in the 1940s, but the unaccompanied four-part a Capella harmony has stood the test of time.
“Back in the days when times were tough and not everybody had a parlour with a piano in it, but people could sing, so people met on the street to sing and people met in parlours to sing,” said Linda Brehaut, organizer of Colour our World.
The quartets took place Friday afternoon while the chorus is to be held Friday evening at Mount Allison University. Those who qualify at the area level can compete at the International Convention and Contests, which include Canadian and United States entries, which will take place in Halifax in November.
It’s not the first time the singers have come to Sackville either, having surprised patrons at local restaurants with performances.
“It’s impossible not to smile,” said Jan Coffin, from Prince Edward Island.
From vocal harmonies to choreography to go along with the songs, the women use it all to put on a show.
“Some choruses have a lot more choreography in their performances than others, but yes, lots of gestures, lots of movement,” Brehaut said.
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Whether in a quartet or a chorus, the women sing without accompaniment and as a result, they not only have to remember the words but also stay on tune.
“We don’t use accompaniment, so you have to know your notes, you have to know your words and you can’t fudge it, which we call ‘watermeloning,'” said Winnie Belliveau, a member of the Codiac Chords in Moncton.
Even if someone misses a note though, Brehaut said everyone has to stay upbeat because, “you can’t be crabby and sing at the same time. They just don’t go together.”
—With files from Shelley Steeves, Global News