Latest News

  • HOA moves Tuesday night meetings back to Blue Springs church
  •  Date Posted: Thu, Nov 11 2021
    The Heart of America Chorus is pulling up stakes again, moving its Tuesday night meetings back to First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs. The first meeting back at the church is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 301 S.W. Woods Chapel Road in Blue Springs, Mo.

    Visitors are always welcome to come listen or sing along!

    The Barbershop chapter met at the church over the summer during remodeling at its then-home Center High School in Kansas City. Once back at Center, HOA found the school had new schedule conflicts with the Tuesday night meetings.

    The HOA Board decided in November to make First United Methodist (let's call it FUMC) its new meeting "home." The only exceptions were joint Holiday Harmony Spectacular practices with the Kansas City Chorus of Sweet Adelines. The joint practices, Nov. 9, 14 and 30, were scheduled for the KC Chorus meeting place, First Presbyterian Church, 1625 N.W. O'Brien Road, Lee's Summit, Mo. (The Spectacular is at 2 p.m. Dec. 4 at Unity Village! See

    The eastside location of FUMC is a bit longer drive for Johnson County members, but about the same, if not shorter, for the Northtown guys.

    To get there: 1.) Take I-70 east to Woods Chapel Road, go south about a mile until you pass straight through the roundabout and turn right into the driveway; OR 2.) Take I-470/M-291 to U.S. 40, go east 4 miles to NORTHBOUND Woods Chapel Road, turn left, go a half-mile north and turn left into the driveway.

    The church welcomed the Barbershoppers, letting them use the space at no charge, though HOA has made voluntary donations. The roomy flat floor with padded sanctuary chairs is supplemented by steps on the front of the sanctuary platform that can double as a chorus riser formation.

    Weekly afterglow returns to Saints

    The post-chapter-meeting Afterglow site also changed with the meeting relocation. Post-meeting singin', eatin' and imbibin' is set for Saints Pub and Patio, 20220 E. Jackson Drive, Independence, just off I-70, less than four miles away from FUMC on Jackson Drive and Little Blue Parkway.
  • 15th Golf Scramble was a Hole in One!
  •  Date Posted: Fri, Oct 8 2021
    By John Erwine

    Heart of America's 15th Golf Scramble was one for the books – or at least one worthy of being celebrated by all on the 19th green! The weather Sept. 23 at WinterStone Golf Course was perfect -- sunny and mid-70’s, COVID19 was not our visitor, 18 foursomes in abundance, great prizes, numerous wonderful sponsors and great volunteers.

    It seems that each year we say this one is either the best, or close to it. This year there is no doubt -- this was a Hole in One. Among the sponsors were four Eagle Sponsors, contributing no less than $1,000 each. They are Jane and Bob Rutherford, In Harmony Therapeutic Massage, World Travel Services, and Creative Planning.

    Also, just as important were the seventeen Hole Sponsors, each contributing $100 or more. In addition, a new PAR Sponsor was introduced this year for those who were interested in smaller contributions, of which there were a number. That meant that every hole had at least one of various sponsorship recognition signs planted on each green.

    This year we were back to our long-time routine of golfing, raffle prizes, buffet dinner and door prizes, in each other’s company. Don Fuson performed his emcee act, none better, for the remainder of the evening with door and flight prizes for golf team winners of skill.

    Adding to the festivities, Swing Shift, comprising veterans John Braden, Carter Combs, Bob Velazquez, and Eric Weber, closed the evening with great quarteting.

    Special thanks must go to our 2021 Scramble volunteers: Harvey Shapiro, Mike O’Dell, Mike Schumacher, Tom Hadley, Bart Bartholomew, Charles Ramirez,Rick Huyck, Linda Schumacher, Marty Oldehoeft, Marlin Weidler, Don Fuson and Swing Shift. Certainly, to be commended for their support and involvement, are all the Heart of America Chorus members and significant others who helped in obtaining prizes, foursomes, and helping in whatever way they could.

    Photos by Rich Huyck.

  • Tickets on sale now for Dec. 4 Holiday Harmony Spectacular
  •  Date Posted: Wed, Aug 4 2021
    By Barry Sanders

    Here is some exciting news about the upcoming Holiday Harmony Spectacular – we are going to have one! Thanks to COVID-19, the 2021 HHS show will be the first “stage” performance by the Heart of America Chorus -- and KC Chorus Sweet Adelines -- in two years.

    The holiday show will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, in the main auditorium at Unity Village, 1901 N.W. Blue Parkway, Unity Village, Mo. (near Lee’s Summit).

    Tickets are on sale now for $25, $20 and $15 based on seats. Group discounts are available. The HOA website is set up now to allow credit card purchases. Go to and click on "Holiday Show" and designate the section desired. Once the credit card is approved, the purchaser will be contacted by e-mail or phone to verify specific seats.

    For cash or check purchases, contact Marlin Weidler, 46 Holly Drive, Olathe, KS 66062-1831; (816) 945-9671; Good seats are still available, although the center front section is filling.

    The theme of this year’s show is “Christmas in Kansas City.” Our Headline Quartet will be Titanium, the Sweet Adelines silver medalist from 2020, and a contender for the SA crown in 2021. We will once again have a kids and grandkids chorus (one song by themselves and one song with the choruses).

    Afterglow at 5 p.m. will be at Tiff n Jay’s Restaurant, 700 N.E. Woods Chapel Road, Lee’s Summit. Tentative cost of the afterglow tickets will be $20 including the buffet, or $5 for admission only.
  • Calvin Yoder: 'Goodbye for now and I'll see you in the morning'
  •  Date Posted: Mon, Jul 26 2021
    By John Braden

    About 300 people filled a big sanctuary in Garden City, Mo., on July 24, 2021, for the Calvin Yoder Memorial Hymn Sing. There were Yoders -- lots of Yoders -- plus members of Sycamore Grove Mennonite Church and members of the Garden City Community Choir, who Calvin directed in an Easter Cantata for 49 years.

    And there were Barbershoppers, including a bunch from Kansas City's Heart of America Chorus, gathered to honor the passing, April 22, 2020, of the lead of one of the Barbershop Harmony Society's most beloved International Champion quartets, HOA's own Rural Route 4.

    The Rural Route 4 even performed "two whole songs!" as bass Willard Yoder, Calvin's brother, might say. Yes, there were four RR4 members there. Calvin's son Wesley, who succeeded tenor Don Kahl in the quartet for four years, joined Don, Willard and baritone Jim Bagby, this time singing his Dad's part, lead.

    The quartet sang "Heavenly Love" and a RR4 favorite, "I'm Feeling Fine." Wesley carried off the major lead solo feature of "Feeling Fine" with a gusto that would have made Dad proud. One HOA audience member said, "Close your eyes and you can hear Calvin."

    Wesley also filled in Calvin's part with Jubilee Transfer, the gospel quartet including Willard, Willard's sister-in-law Darla Zook and her sister Ranae Almos. That foursome sang "Shadow of the Cross/Face to Face." And as a thrill to folks after the service, Jubilee Transfer also sang a quartet favorite "I'm Winging My Way Back Home."

    And the Yoder family, numbering more than 25 including babies, took to the stage to sing "Standing on the Rock."

    But singing by everybody was what the evening was about. The Garden City Community Choir, which organized the event, set the tone, passing out gospel hymns for the audience to sing. To house the expected crowd, the service was held at Garden City's Heart of Life Church.

    Karen Cook welcomed folks on behalf of the choir, saying Calvin encouraged people to sing, especially praises to Jesus Christ. She said portions of the hymns they distributed had been "Calvinized," with unexpected key changes and chording changes. "If it doesn't sound familiar, it's Calvinized."

    Calvin himself put in an appearance on video. His wife, Michelle, said due to the COVID-19 shutdown, he was unable to see many people after his terminal diagnosis and wanted to leave a message. He began by singing in a strong voice "Precious Lord, Take my Hand," and "What a Day that Will Be." You could hear audience members humming in harmony with him.

    "Goodbye for now and I'll see you in the morning," he said.

    "I met him like 48 years ago and I always thought I was his best friend," Jim Bagby said. "And then before we started here, people were coming in and I was saying hello to folks. I found out everybody here was his best friend... So, if I'm not his best friend, I'm one of the luckiest guys alive because I got to sing with him."

    Photos by Rich Huyck.

  • Committee Scrambles to prepare Sept. 23 golf event
  •  Date Posted: Wed, Jul 21 2021
    By John Erwine

    Your Golf Scramble committee has been working diligently for months now. Thankfully, COVID-19 has been on the decline, which has lessened the pressure on our efforts to convene a much better social event than last year. We began this journey 3.5 months ahead of last year, hoping to increase the number of players, donor prizes, and sponsorships. We believe we will.

    WinterStone Golf Course in Independence, Mo., again will be the location Sept. 23 for the Golf Scramble. There will be several competitive Hole Challenges as in the past -- closest to the pin, longest putt and longest drives for both men and women.

    And yes, always a "betting hole" which gives you the opportunity to win your bet back or, double your bet if your tee shot is within the circles. New last year, was the "Bubba Watson Hole."  With a $20 donation to the chorus per team, your team can hit their second shots from the 150-yard marker.

    A new sponsor this year is Kansas Speedway. We expect the Speedway to bring a Pace Car to our Scramble complete with someone there all day to answer questions.

    Additional information about the Scramble can be found on our home page by clicking on Golf Scramble.

    Here's wishing everyone an Eagle, maybe a Birdie, even a Bogey. Oh, what the heck; just come and have a great time!
  • HOA extends Blue Springs meetings through August
  •  Date Posted: Thu, Jul 15 2021
    The Heart of America Chorus has extended its summer meetings through August at First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs due to a delay in completion of remodeling at its regular meeting site, Center High School. HOA initially moved its Tuesday night practice spot to the church for June and July.

    The chapter is meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday nights at the church at 301 S.W. Woods Chapel Road in Blue Springs through Tuesday, Aug. 31.

    The extension also means post-chapter-meeting Afterglows will continue through August at Saints Pub and Patio, less than four miles away on Jackson Drive and Little Blue Parkway in Independence.
  • Remodeling brings summer meeting venue change
  •  Date Posted: Mon, Jul 12 2021
    Heart of America had to find another Tuesday night practice spot for two months due to summer remodeling at its regular meeting place, Center High School. As a result, the chapter returned to First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs during the months of June and July.

    Members were familiar with the eastside venue at 301 S.W. Woods Chapel Road in Blue Springs. It was the scene of their successful Caroling Caravan recording session in the previous November. The church welcomed the Barbershoppers, letting them use the space at no charge, though HOA made a voluntary donation.

    The Johnson County contingent had a longer drive, but for the Northtown guys, the commute was about the same if not shorter for some.

    The layout was a change from Center's enclosed, stair-step-floor choir and band rooms. The church's roomy flat floor and padded sanctuary chairs were supplemented by steps on the front of the sanctuary platform that doubled as a chorus riser formation.

    The church provided an additional comfort, allowing members who had been vaccinated to forgo their COVID-19 masks.

    Afterglow also moved for summer

    The post-chapter-meeting Afterglow site also changed with the meeting relocation. Carter Combs led the hunt for a suitable site near the Blue Springs church, settling on Saints Pub and Patio, less than four miles away on Jackson Drive and Little Blue Parkway in Independence.

    Because Saints was relatively close to the meeting site and on the way home for most members, attendance was good for the post -meeting eats, drinks and singing. As a bonus, several of the non-chapter-meeting afterglow crowd, led by Director Emeritus Jim Bagby, came to the new afterglow spot to sing tags with newest members Danny Anderson, Chris Walker, Charlie Hill and Andrew Frick.

    The fate of the afterglow site is uncertain once the chapter returns to Center, in August if remodeling is complete. Longtime 'glow site Windy City Pub, a far piece away at 133rd and State Line, appeared to be out of the running since they launched video bingo tournaments on Tuesday nights. If you know a place that is reasonably nearby to Center, stays open late, has food and more than soft drinks and beer (for jb!), and has a relatively quiet corner to caterwaul, contact President Mike Schumacher.
  • Barbershop Underground ends with lockdown, at BU 400
  •  Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11 2021
    Barbershop Underground has retired, at No.400, until the need should arise.

    During the 14 months of 2020 and 2021 in which the Heart of America Chorus did not meet due to the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown, Barbershop Underground was created to provide a daily dose of Barbershop to homebound chapter members.

    On the night of Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Heart of America Chorus ceased in-person meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On that very night, Barbershop Underground began with the transmission of a YouTube video of the legendary Rural Route 4, singing "Richest Man in the World" reminding the COVID downtrodden of how rich they actually are. Every night thereafter there came another set of four-part voices singing in the darkness.

    On April 22, 2021, HOA began meeting in person again. Two days later, Barbershop Underground went dark, finishing with Barbershop Underground No. 400 -- again appropriately, our own Rural Route 4, singing "Say Goodbye to the Old Apple Tree" and "My Life, My Love, My Song" -- and HOA singing "Auld Lang Syne."

    Thank you to Jim Bagby, Dale Neuman, Joe Mathieu and many, many others for providing recordings, comments, advice and encouragement.

    Keep the Whole World Singing.


    If members want to see the list of all 400 (403) Barbershop Undergrounds, go to, log in under Members and click on Teaching Resources. Non-members, contact John Braden at

  • HOA returns to full-time in-person meetings May 18
  •  Date Posted: Mon, May 10 2021
    By John Braden

    The Kansas City Chapter Board voted May 10 to return the Heart of America Chorus to full-time in-person meetings every Tuesday night beginning May 18.

    After 14 months of pandemic-inspired Zoom meetings, the chorus met in-person April 20 and alternated in-person masked-up meetings with Zoom meetings through May 11. The Board decided that had been a sufficient test period and OK'd a return to regular mask-to-mask meetings.

    The in-person meetings will be held through the remainder of May at 7 p.m. in the band room of Center High School, 8715 Holmes Road, Kansas City, Mo. Singers are masked and spread out as much as the room allows.

    The initial in-person meetings focused on harmonizing traditional Barbershop Polecat songs and singing a bunch of new and old repertoire tunes.

    The May 4 in-person meeting included two new members, Chris Walker and Danny Anderson, plus another 20 regulars. Additionally, the ad hoc Zoom chairman, Barry Sanders, managed to "broadcast" that meeting via Zoom to members who were shut in or not comfortable returning in person yet.

    In preparation for full in-person gatherings, President Mike Schumacher called on members to enter the east door on the north side of the building and to remember their masks, water bottles and nametags that have been sitting in drawers for a year. Guests are always welcome.

    HOA to meet at First Methodist, Blue Springs, in June-July

    Another, temporary, change is in the works. Center announced that the school building will be closed for major remodeling in June and July. As a result, the Board voted May 10 to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs, 301 S.W. Woods Chapel Road, Blue Springs, during those two months. First UMC was the site of the chorus' recording of the Caroling Caravan fundraiser for the Salvation Army last November.
  • After 14 months, 22 HOA members meet in person
  •  Date Posted: Wed, Apr 21 2021
    By John Braden

    After 14 months, the Heart of America Chorus held its first in-person chapter meeting April 20 at Center High School. A total of 22 members met mask-to-mask at 7 p.m. in the band room.

    Members were excited to see and talk with each other in person, but were especially happy actually to hear each other harmonize after 14 months of muting themselves and Zoom singing with learning media or videos. The chorus mainly sang traditional Barbershop Polecats plus a couple of "new" repertoire songs they started learning pre-pandemic.

    Featured participants were new member Chris Walker and returning "old-timers" Rick Foreman and Carl Turlin.

    Those participating were asked to wear masks and submit to temperature checks. Plus, the band room allowed more social-distance space than the choir room the group formerly used.

    President Mike Schumacher said the chorus planned to meet in person every other week, making the next in-person gatherings at 7 p.m. May 4 and 18 at Center, 8715 Holmes Road, Kansas City, Mo. The group is to meet via Zoom on the intervening Tuesdays. Schumacher said the chorus hopes to return to weekly meetings depending on results of the trial in-person meetings.

    Guests are always welcome, whether actually or virtually.

    Speaking of Zoom, the ad hoc Zoom chairman, Barry Sanders, attempted to "broadcast" the April 20 meeting via Zoom to members who are shut in or not comfortable returning in person yet. However, that effort failed due to problems with wireless Internet connection. More research needed.

    Technically, the full chorus did meet twice during the 14-month pandemic lockdown, once to practice for Caroling Caravan and to record the virtual Caroling Caravan at First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs. Also a handful of the group met at Cave Springs Park for outdoor singing last summer.

    Center has announced that the building will be closed for major remodeling in June and July. The chapter is seeking an alternate in-person meeting place for those months.
  • Harmony Explosion! 2021 presents virtual student quartet performances
  •  Date Posted: Sat, Apr 17 2021
    By Jerry Meier

    Sixteen student quartets representing six area schools were brave enough to overcome obstacles of the pandemic and participate in Harmony Explosion! 2021, held virtually on Saturday, March 27.

    Special rules were enacted this year to encourage choir students to participate virtually even though many students could not meet in person to practice! The student quartets were asked to submit an unlisted YouTube video performance of their a cappella song.

    Our eight Harmony Explosion! judges, four from the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) and four from Sweet Adelines International (SAI) scored each video for singing quality and overall performance. Eight quartets earned GOLD medals and eight quartets earned SILVER medals.

    A list of all 16 YouTube links from Harmony Explosion! 2021can be found on the HOA Chorus website. Go to the News and Events tab under Harmony Explosion!

    I want to say THANK YOU to the vocal music teachers at the six schools participating in Harmony Explosion! 2021:
    Pam Williamson - Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kan. (3 Quartets).
    Robin Christie - Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park, Kan. (5 Quartets).
    Dr. Dwayne Dunn - Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kan. (1 Quartet).
    Jerrod McNutt - Augusta High School in Augusta, Kan. (2 Quartets).
    Jason Cole - St. James Academy in Lenexa, Kan. (3 Quartets).
    Jessica Seidler - Prairie Star Middle School in Leawood, Kan. (2 Quartets).

    Medals were awarded to the following quartets:

    8th Grade SAI:      SILVER Medal - Prairie Star Bombs (Prairie Star)
    8th Grade Mixed:  SILVER Medal - Rolling Tones (Prairie Star)

    10th Grade SAI:  GOLD Medal - Treble in Paradise (Bishop Miege)
    10th Grade SAI:  GOLD Medal - All Naturals (Olathe Northwest)
    10th Grade SAI:  SILVER Medal - Dreamers (Bishop Miege)
    10th Grade SAI:  SILVER Medal - Bishop Miege Stagettes (Bishop Miege)

    10th Grade BHS:    GOLD Medal - Three and a Half Men (Lawrence)
    10th Grade BHS:    SILVER Medal - Trail Mix (Bishop Miege)
    10th Grade Mixed:  SILVER Medal - Mixed Up (Bishop Miege)

    12th Grade SAI:  GOLD Medal - Rosettes (St. James Academy)
    12th Grade SAI:  GOLD Medal - Sole Sisters (St. James Academy)
    12th Grade SAI:  GOLD Medal - Fortes (Olathe Northwest)
    12th Grade SAI:  SILVER Medal - Local Vocals (Augusta)

    12th Grade BHS:  GOLD Medal - Accidentals (Olathe Northwest)
    12th Grade BHS:  GOLD Medal - Crusaders (St. James Academy)
    12th Grade BHS:  SILVER Medal - Five Cannibals (Augusta)

    I want to recognize and say THANK YOU to the Harmony Explosion! 2021 judges:
    Kansas City Chorus (SAI):  Susanna McBride, Heather Schouten, Mary Olson, Liddy Miller.
    Harmonium (BHS):  Micah Jeppesen, Mark Fortino, Michael Troyer, Marshall Crowl.

    They did a great job encouraging all of the student quartets to continue singing together for next year!

    SAVE THE DATE -- Harmony Explosion! 2022 is planned for Saturday, Feb. 19, at Grace United Methodist Church in Olathe, Kan. Let's try to get everyone back together, safely in person, to enjoy the student quartet performances once again.

    I can't wait to see you there next year!
  • HOA resumes in-person chapter meetings April 20
  •  Date Posted: Wed, Apr 14 2021
    By John Braden

    The Board of the Kansas City Barbershop Chapter voted April 12 that the Heart of America Chorus will resume in-person chapter meetings on a test basis beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, at Center High School.

    The board also scheduled in-person meetings May 4 and 18 at Center, 8715 Holmes Road, Kansas City, Mo. Those participating are to wear masks and submit to temperature checks.

    Visitors are welcome if the comply with mask, temperature and distancing protocols.

    The board decided to return to in-person meetings on an alternating Tuesday basis, perhaps eventually returning to weekly meetings depending on meeting success and member response.

    The chorus is expected to meet on other Tuesdays on the Internet via Zoom to continue to serve out-of-town or shut-in members who have been participating via Zoom. The chapter has met weekly via Zoom since the pandemic began, but the software program causes any attempt to sing "live" together to be out of synchronization.

    The in-person meetings, which previously were held in the Center choir room, will be moved to the Center band room. Members are able to gain access to the room via the north doors of the high school building.

    Center has announced that the building will be closed for major remodeling in June and July. The chapter is seeking an alternate in-person meeting place for those months.
  • 'Pandemic year' chapter dues reduced 25 percent
  •  Date Posted: Sun, Mar 21 2021
    By Don Fuson, Membership VP
    In response to effects of the Coronavirus pandemic shutdown on the Kansas City Chapter and its members, the HOA Board has reduced chapter dues 25 percent for the coming year.

    Recognizing that 2020 was most unusual in terms of chapter planning and chorus performances, and recognizing that some of the members probably saw the reduction in what the chapter delivers (or could deliver) for our members, the Board discussed and passed the 25 percent reduction. The effective dates are from March 16, 2021, through March 15, 2022.

    The chapter action does not affect International or Central States District dues assessments but should save a few bucks for HOA members as follows:
    Regular membership - $40 to $30
    Senior (age 75+) - $30 to $22.50
    Youth (under age 26) - $20 to $15
    50+ years as a member - still $0
    Use that spare change to know that the fellowship of the members is the foundation for our collective singing and performances, giving those tuneful sounds back to our community. Meanwhile, your Board is making safe plans for an (eventual) return to face-to-face meetings, and President Mike Schumacher is keeping the count of our COVID vaccinations.
  • Virtual Harmony Explosion! 2021 moves to March 27.
  •  Date Posted: Tue, Mar 16 2021
    By Jerry Meier

    Harmony Explosion! 2021 will be 100% virtual and it's for fun! Students are encouraged to keep it simple (no stress). Vocal Music Teachers are encouraged to allow their students to participate and give it a try. They have NOTHING to lose!

    After talking with several teachers, I moved the date and extended the deadline for Harmony Explosion! 2021 to alleviate the anxieties with Spring 2021 academic schedules, deadlines and attendance changes.

    Extending the deadline to the end of March will give students more time to consider Harmony Explosion! as a classroom project for their Spring semester.

    We are not trying to force anyone to do it -- we are simply trying to give students the opportunity to do it!!!

    Vocal Music Teachers are thankful. Many of their students do not want to submit videos for State Solos and Ensembles this Spring (an event that is also 100% virtual), because of the difficulties associated with that activity. However, those same students can prepare a simple Harmony Explosion! performance video to fulfill their classroom requirements.

    The deadline for submitting unlisted YouTube videos is now 6 p.m. Central Time on Friday, March 26.

    I have no idea if this year's virtual Harmony Explosion! will be widely accepted. The students will not be traveling on a Saturday and will not be singing live on a stage. But in this COVID-19 world, the students could be more eager to try it for the first time. We could get 10 videos or we could get 60 videos. Regardless, we have a hand-picked set of volunteer judges ready to review as many videos as necessary, to ensure the success of this wonderful program.

    Special thanks to Harmonium (Micah Jeppesen, Mark Fortino, Michael Troyer, Marshall Crowl), Carter Combs, Bob Velazquez, Michelle Hunget, Heather Schouten, and the Music Team of the Kansas City Chorus of Sweet Adelines for volunteering to judge this year.

    (See the Harmony Explosion links on the HOA chapter home page,
  • New Harmony Handful turns out again in force
  •  Date Posted: Sun, Mar 14 2021
    By Jim Bagby
    After literally missing two months of virtual meetings, the New Harmony Handful returned virtually intact on March 15 with visions of an April meeting with each other actually – in person, that is.

    A poll of the 21 NHH members found almost 100 percent have completed both COVID-19 vaccinations. So there was a lively discussion about the possibility and practicality of returning to our Blue Ridge Presbyterian home meeting base by April, or June at the latest. We’ll keep our Heart of America family posted. Singing is still second to safety.

    But we had a great time. January weather had wiped out that monthly rehearsal. And in February, arm-waver Jim Bagby was recuperating from a brief hospital trip. After a few anxious days, the doc called and said “No worries, mate.” 

    So Barry Sanders did his usual bang-up job as our Zoom moderator, and also filled in for traveling Don Fuson as DJ. And he had plenty of songs to choose from. John Erwine and Don have recently spent a lot of hours in our library, and got all the songs with four-part tracks to Barry. We also have quite a few more recorded with lead tracks only, so we need to get Jim and our music team on the ball!

    In addition to the discussion of vaccinations, our evening included hearing the highly interesting barbershopping life of bass and retired career Army officer Daniel “Bart” Bartholomew. And we tried to catch up on birthdays.

    So it was a great night, overall. Some of the singing might have been a bit rusty, but we were happy to be back together. We’re eager to sing in person, and have real breaks with the wives’ homemade baked goods!
  • 2021 Golf Scramble in the making
  •  Date Posted: Wed, Mar 10 2021
    By John Erwine

    Our own Prez Michael Schumacher visited WinterStone Golf Course, met with Club Pro Mike Strother and presented him a $500 deposit reserving Sept. 23 for HOA's 2021 Golf Scramble! How great is that? It is WinterStone again! On a mild Thursday in September, the sun will be out providing a glorious day for HOA and its golfers.

    It is about six months before our usual time in September for the Golf Scramble. Last year's planning started only 2.5 months prior to that day. Therefore, we have an additional 3.5 months to better prepare, recruit more golfers, sponsorships and donations.

    Last year's scramble, conducted admirably by WinterStone, produced no contracted virus or ill feelings among any of our golfers. The course was immaculate and appreciated by all players. And just as importantly, the box lunches were first rate. We cannot express gratitude enough to their staff for welcoming and looking after us. We also had more golfers (64) than in any prior scramble. Our net bottom line, from our now major fundraiser was fantastic, even with the COVID crisis.

    What is next? It is called FOLLOW-UP, especially since life is improving. These 3.5 extra months give us the opportunity to knock 2021 out of the park! Three things are primarily responsible for making this our biggest year ever: Players, sponsors and donations. Sponsors and donors could improve their businesses, and secure tax write-off benefits. Players gain from an improved game, improved scorecard math, comradery, storytelling, HOA support and other imaginative benefits.

    This is where I, and HOA, ask for your support. We need your suggestions, active recruiting efforts in all phases, volunteer time and any other ways you can offer yourself to make this a blockbuster event for 2021. Contact me at (816) 520-5708,

    Be looking forward in the coming weeks and months for updates as we proceed.

  • 2020 President’s SPIRIT AWARD Recipient
  •  Date Posted: Wed, Mar 3 2021
    By Mike Schumacher
    HOA President

    In March of 2020, we would have been dumbfounded and in complete denial if someone had told us the COVID pandemic would have wreaked such havoc and made us really think outside of the box.

    With rehearsals being held on Zoom and shows and other activities being canceled, one of the members of the Heart of America Chorus took it upon himself to spread some joy where little was in sight. John Braden created the “Barbershop Underground” experience for all of our e-mail recipients.

    Using all the resources he could get his hands on, he e-mailed a video performance of a very talented quartet or chorus (many of whom were International Champions) every single day. And as of this writing he has sent 349.

    If you asked him, he’d say it wasn’t that good of a deal or it wasn’t that hard to do. The point is he came up with the idea and he carried it out! Not only were the selections entertaining but also educational since he usually had an interesting fact or story to go along with them.

    He helped keep the HOA Chorus SPIRIT in high swing. I know our guys look forward to seeing what comes next and many of them and I have shared them with family and friends.

    John, on behalf of the guys in the chorus, Thank You for continuing to entertain and teach and inspire us until we get back together and ring those chords, sing those tags and entertain others with our barbershop style.
  • Virtual Caroling Caravan tops $19,000 for Salvation Army
  •  Date Posted: Fri, Feb 5 2021
    By John Braden
    Mike Mathieu -- who has been a leader swinging the red kettle for the Salvation Army for at least 35 years -- announced the Heart of America Chorus raised more than $19,000 for the Army in its first-ever virtual Caroling Caravan.

    The Coronavirus pandemic upset the annual plan in which chorus members and quartets loaded on a bus to visit a handful of area retirement centers, singing and bellringing. For the previous 17 years, the Caroling Caravan, led by Mike and Bob Burdick, sang to residents and raised in the neighborhood of $25,000 in a single day.

    With retirement centers locked down for the duration, the chapter hit on the idea of video-recording a holiday concert for distribution, primarily by YouTube. The First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs agreed to provide its facility and its volunteer camera and sound crews to make the recording.

    Mike said donations totaled $19,482. He said he was disappointed that the virtual Caravan could not top previous receipts. However, HOA President Mike Schumacher said he was amazed by the overall efforts by the 32 guys who stepped forward and wanted to be a part of this historic HOA event.

    President Mike said not only did we raise funds for the Army during a very bleak year of contributions but he hopes HOA members feel good about giving some people, many who were quarantined in their rooms, the love, joy and hope that should abound during this time of the year!

    "I want to express our undying gratitude to Mike Mathieu and Bob Burdick for their leadership in our past Caroling Caravans," President Mike said. "I pray we can get back on our bus in 2021 to bring our holiday cheer to as many as we can in person."

    As always, Mike Mathieu carried out the real legwork for Caroling Caravan. Mike contacted Vocal Spectrum, 2006 International Quartet Champions, who gave us permission to include three of their Christmas songs on our finished product. Mike also contacted our mainstays, the retirement centers who could not allow us to visit in person due to the COVID-19 scare.

    Mike spent hours contacting activities directors to tell them HOA had not forgotten them and we would be bringing holiday cheer to their quarantine conditions in a new performance they could show as many times as they wished. Mike also hustled contribution fliers and envelopes to all the centers to ensure they did not forget to contribute to the Salvation Army. Other donations were sought by chapter members and friends forwarding the website and Caroling Caravan YouTube link to friends and acquaintances.

    Board members ensured the recording session could be conducted safely -- socially distanced on a large "stage" in a sizable sanctuary with a ventilation system that draws in outside air. After not singing together for eight months, chorus members masked up and submitted to temperature checks on entry for one rehearsal, Oct. 27, followed by the performance on Nov. 7, 2020. Singers' usual holiday garb was highlighted by the addition of colorful Christmas-themed facemasks.

    Bob Velazquez, Jim Bagby and Mike Schumacher directed the holiday songs, while Mike Mathieu recorded all the intros and donation pitches for the Salvation Army. In addition to the video performance of Vocal Spectrum, chapter quartet Swing Shift provided a video recording.

    Bob Velazquez recruited the chapter website whiz, Marlin Weidler, to splice together the individual recordings into our own music video, which was posted on YouTube and highlighted on HOA's new website.

    To continue to donate to the Salvation Army through HOA, go to
  • Weidler, McIntire earn BOTY, John Cross awards
  •  Date Posted: Tue, Jan 19 2021

    Two veteran Barbershoppers were singled out for honors at HOA's first Zoom video Installation and Awards Night on Jan. 12. The Kansas City Chapter recognized 32-year Barbershopper Marlin Weidler as Barbershopper of the Year and presented 38-year veteran Ron McIntire the John Cross Award.

    Barbershopper of the Year -- The chapter annually recognizes and honors certain members for significant and meritorious service as the Barbershopper of the Year. There have been 74 winners of the Barbershopper of the Year -- or its previous titles of Man of the Year, Honor Night winner and Achievement Award winner. The 2019 winner was Operations VP Steve Keisker.

    Marlin Weidler, the 2020 Barbershopper of the Year, joined the Society in 1988. He's been a faithful chorus boy, quartetter and Board member. In front of the annual Installation Banquet, he once wore a battered top hat, scarf and red rubber nose to play a melting snowman during a performance of "Let it Snow" by his then-quartet Reverie.

    Marlin has spent a lot of time recently doing vital chores for the chorus while health problems -- Parkinson's, a urinary tract infection, back surgery and who knows what else -- have hindered his being an active singer. He has served as ticket chairman and Singing Valentines organizer. He has spent hours mastering the transition to a new chapter website. And when Bob Velazquez asked if he had ever put together a music video, he said no but agreed to do it anyway. So, he created our first Caroling Caravan video and still retained his trademark smile.

    And the poor guy was sitting there running tech for the Zoom awards night when his name was announced. Here's to Marlin Weidler, the 2020 Barbershopper of the Year!

    The John Cross Award is presented annually to the HOA member with the best attendance record and who is always on hand to take on the job no one else wants. The first award was presented in 1989 to John Cross himself, a full 33 years after the cranky, sharp-tongued, ornery old cuss was named Barbershopper of the Year. There have been 31 John Cross Award winners, with the plaque captured in 2019 by cranky, sharp-tongued, ornery old Director Bob Velazquez.

    Ron McIntire, the 2020 winner of the John Cross Award, joined the Society in 1982. He has turned up in various jobs over the years -- many of them thankless. In 1989 as membership vice president, he tied Ed Ward's record for 36 new members in one year. He has faithfully carried out the annual creation of the chapter directory -- and the Central States District directory -- with nobody even asking. He seems to be singlehandedly nagging us to keep Harmonotes operating. He makes all the Barbershopper of the Month, Extra Mile and other such awards. If this isn't John Cross-type thankless work, what is?

    Ron should have won the John Cross Award long ago but he failed the attendance requirement. Instead, he ended up in hospitals and rehab centers for weeks at a time, year after year, through no fault of his own -- well mostly no fault of his own. Mostly we blame gravity.

    This year, however, due to only two hospital bouts in 2020 -- and the wonders of Zoom attendance -- he wins in the attendance category, too. And thanks to the wonders of Zoom -- and Don Fuson holding his phone up to the computer screen -- Ron "attended" the virtual awards night from his latest rehab center where he was recovering from a broken hip. Here's to Ron McIntire, the 2020 John Cross Award winner!
    Joe, Oz remain on the shelf in 2020

    Joe Stern Award -- Because of the significance of this honor, this year the Joe Stern Award panel voted to make no 2020 award. Our chapter's most prestigious award, the Joe Stern Lifetime Achievement Award, is named for a man who was a major influence on the Kansas City Chapter of SPEBSQSA and on Barbershopping as a whole.

    Oz Newgard Award -- In keeping with the significance of this honor, this year the Oz Newgard Award panel voted to make no 2020 Ozzie award. The "Ozzie" was initiated by the Rural Route 4 to honor their coach M.O. "Oz" Newgard, a former director of the Alexandria Harmonizers and a senior sound judge who helped HOA to its first Central States District chorus title. The Ozzie is presented to the individual who has provided outstanding musical service to the chapter and chorus.
  • 2020 'Pandemic Year' officers recommit for 2021
  •  Date Posted: Tue, Jan 12 2021

    By Jerry Meier

    Central States District President Duane Lawson installed the Kansas City Chapter's 2021 officers with a resounding “Hell Yeah” to renew their commitments to serve and support the chapter.

    President Mike Schumacher counted 37 chapter members and four guests who attended the 2020 Awards and 2021 Installation (non-)Banquet via Zoom video conference on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Guests were Duane, Chris Walker, Charlie Hill and Dale Neuman.

    The 2021 officers are as follows:

    President                               Mike Schumacher
    Immediate Past President      Barry Sanders
    Secretary                               Tom Hadley
    Treasurer                               Harvey Shapiro
    Executive VP                          Harvey Shapiro
    Marketing VP                         Adam Singleton
    Chapter Development VP      Don Fuson
    Music & Performance VP       Carter Combs
    Operations VP                      Steve Keisker
    Program VP                          Jerry Meier
    Members at Large:               Tony O’Brien, Vince Perry IV and Marlin Weidler

    You might recognize the fact that all 2021 officers agreed to return to serve another year, since 2020 seemed to be “not an actual” year on duty. Thanks were given to former Board Member Greg Busch, who did not re-up because he's returning home to Indianapolis.

    Bob Velazquez, Heart of America Chorus director, renewed his commitment to lead the 2021 Heart of America Barbershop Chorus and to improve the chapter and each member this year.

    President Mike Schumacher reminded us that the Heart of America Chorus is “our chorus.” He encouraged all members to continue promoting our chapter and our chorus, while conversing with potential new members and customers. He challenged chapter members to continue working through the pandemic to prepare for future performances – they will come and we will have fun!

    John Braden stepped in again as the “Official Organizer of the Awards” to recognize and honor the 2020 award recipients:
    -- Ron McIntire was recognized and honored with the John Cross Award for 2020.
    -- Marlin Weidler was recognized and honored with the 2020 Barbershopper of the Year Award.
    -- There was no Oz Newgard “Ozzie” Award given in 2020 for Outstanding Musical Service to the Chapter.
    -- There was no Joe Stern Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award given in 2020.
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