Vegas success for all-women barbershop singers
WHEN they started out in 1987 with just eight members, the Forth Valley Chorus could scarce have imagined they would one day be singing before an audience of thousands.
But fast forward some 30 years and the all-women group found itself warming the stage at the world championships in Las Vegas.
The group, which now has more than 100 members, was given the chance to open the finals of the Sweet Adelines International event, hosted at the city’s iconic MGM Grande venue. And there was extra cause for celebration after subsequent performances saw the chorus clinch eleventh position, the highest ever placing for a UK group in the contest.
Paula Dennis, one of the group’s assistant directors, said the performers were thrilled with the “phenomenal response” they received from the audience.
She said: “We have won the UK championships six times before and that means that you get to go to the world championships – this is the highest result that we have ever had.
“We just missed out on being in the top ten [but] the response we got was like we almost won it.
“We knew there were a lot of people watching live but because of the mental preparation that we’d done we were calm and a bit excited.
“We knew what we had to do. It was a fantastic experience and the fabulous audience helped us to do even more.”
As well as competing in competitions, the chorus regularly sings at charity fundraisers and has even performed before Princess Anne at the Royal Highland Show.
However Paula, who described the activity as being “like Pitch Perfect but for grown-ups” explained it’s not just about competing.
She said the chorus also gave women to chance to build their confidence and meet new people.
“For me it was a huge thing because I joined the chorus way back when I wasn’t a particularly confident person.
“Then I went on and trained as a teacher and I know it was definitely because of the experience that I had performing. We have nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers, housewives – there’s a wide range of people.”
And it was in part thanks to the Evening News that she got involved in the Capital’s chorus scene in the first place.
She added: “I always loved to sing and I was watching daytime TV with my two-year-old and six-month-old and there was a barbershop chorus singing. A few days later the Evening News had a picture of three women advertising that the chorus was looking for new members.
“It’s fabulous because you can’t think of or worry about anything else when you are singing.”