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  • 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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