Sweet Adelines is a world-wide singing organization of women. The style is
a cappella 4-part close harmony in the barbershop style. The style of singing was first started in the U.S., spread to Canada and now it can be found in many corners of the globe such as the UK, Sweden, Japan and Russia.
North Metro Chorus is located in Toronto, but women from all over belong to the chorus. Sadly, I wasn’t able to be in the chorus this year, I remained an associate, but didn’t compete with them. I hope to return soon.
In Sweet Adelines, choruses compete at the regional level. If your chorus wins you compete about 18 months later at the International level – usually an American city. This year was Denver, next year is Hawaii but the competition has also been held in Calgary and London, UK. If you do win at Regional, you don’t compete for a year. If you win at International, you take 2 years off before you compete again. But, the winning chorus returns the following year to do an educational class and to perform during the contest week. North Metro will be going to Hawaii next year to perform!
There is no monetary reward, it’s entirely a hobby, in fact YOU pay to belong to the chorus, to sing at your regional and international competitions; but the “gold” medal is truly gold to a Sweet Adeline – it’s the Olympics of barbershop singing.
By the way, North Metro has won this honour 4 times now, but hadn’t won it in 10 years prior to last night. And North Metro Chorus is the only Canadian chorus to have won this title so far. So it was a very sweet victory. During contest week, there are two chorus competitions. A semifinals where, this year, 33 choruses competed. They each sing 2 songs – barbershop songs that have been deemed appropriate for competition (several musical elements that make the song distinctly barbershop and not “just” a cappella). The judging panel looks at various aspects – sound, music, expression and showmanship and 10 choruses come back for the finals. It’s the finals that everyone lives for. Here, the choruses still sing the two contestable songs, but they also sing other songs and put together a “show package”. It’s a night of entertainment that people would pay big bucks to watch – the creativity and ingenuity is astonishing. The scores are cumulative – combined between the semis and finals and the top score wins. This year there were some really big heavy weights and winning was not going to be easy. In fact, North Metro beat the favorites by only 9 points! Phew! And, you should know that is isn’t JUST a singing contest – it’s also about choreography – and North Metro has the BEST choreographer in the business – Erin Howden – who is also the director’s daughter. And it’s this combination of top notch singing and excellent choreography that decides the winner.
When the winning chorus is called, all members go to the stage, collect their precious gold medal, the director says a few words and then they sing a song. The director, June Dale, was so shocked that she couldn’t find the words. (I watched the competition from home on a live webcast). I’m sure she found them later during the victory party!
So, the ladies will make their way home today (Sunday). Wearing their gold medals, they’ll get together on Wednesday, have cake, laugh, cry, hug and the planning for the following year – strutting their stuff at Regional (not competing) and in Hawaii (also not competing) will begin. And in the words of North Metro’s favorite coach, barbershop singer extraordinaire – Joe Connolly – the chorus can now declare themselves, the “best chorus on the globe“! Woot Woot!