|By Mike Mathieu|
With all donations finally in, the Heart of America Chorus' holiday Caroling Caravan collected a grand total of $21,577.03 for the Salvation Army.
In just one day, more than two dozen Barbershoppers rode the bus to six area retirement homes on Dec. 17, 2022, caroling, bell-ringing and collecting donations for the Salvation Army. We had a lot of fun, we brought the holiday spirit to eager audiences, and we collected what looks like a record amount to help those in need in the Kansas City area.
After two down COVID years, in 2022 we performed mask free in all but one location. We picked up some of our better locations, and pretty much all increased their donations from 2021 for that grand $21,577.03.
Special thanks to Tony O'Brien and Ted Simon. Those two were a great help and volunteered to take over the Caroling Caravan going forward. Special thanks also to Gordy and Marilou Coleman, who bailed us out a short time before the Caravan by offering to take care of the cost for the bus, which keeps us all together and on time.
Heart of America has supported the Salvation Army for three-quarters of a century, bellringing and singing on the streets and malls of the city. As mall space became scarce, the Caravan was born. All collections go to the Salvation Army, with all Caravan expenses absorbed by HOA and its members.
Thank you to all you wonderful singers and your wives who allow us to be gone all day the Saturday before Christmas. You helped perfect a crazy idea by two of your brothers and make it a musicality reality.
Editor's note: HOA Director Emeritus Jim Bagby adds to Mike: "Thanks and congratulations for ALL the many years you have ramrodded this labor of love. The Caravan that you and Bob (the late Bob Burdick) dreamed up after the malls ran out of space for us was a brilliant idea. We can remember when we thought it was a success if we brought in a few hundred dollars on a looong Saturday of ringing and singing in one mall spot."
|"Hanging Judge" the Hon. John Erwine and Bailiff Martin Oldehoeft officiated in the indictment and installation of President Mike Schumacher and the Big Schu Mob as Board of Directors at the Heart of America Chorus Installation and Awards Banquet, Jan. 7, 2023, at RC's Restaurant in Martin City.|
A jury of 45 Kansas City Chapter members and family put down their fried chicken long enough to shout "guilty" for the inauguration of:
President Mike Schumacher
Immediate Past President Charles Ramirez
Secretary Tom Hadley
Treasurer Harvey Shapiro
Executive VP Rick Foreman
Marketing VP Ted Simon
Chapter Development VP Don Fuson
Music & Performance VP Bob Velazquez
Operations VP Steve Keisker
Program VP Jerry Meier
Members at Large Danny Anderson, Vince Perry IV, Tom Riedel, Marlin Weidler.
The group ate RC's (World Famous) fried chicken and mashed potatoes family style and enjoyed the program lined up by Program VP Jerry Meier.
HOA Director Carter Combs said the chapter is getting back its balance of rehearsals and performances, post-COVID, and a balance of a "circle of life, circle of friends," with the deaths of eight chapter members this year and the welcoming of eight new members. President Mike Schumacher said he has two goals for the coming year: communication, in which the chapter "blows its own horn," and participation, in which every member finds a way to help the chapter grow.
Swing Shift "B," for baritone Bob Velazquez, performed "Crazy Words, Crazy Tune" and Swing Shift "C," for bari Charlie Hill, debuted "Hey, Good Lookin'."
John Braden acknowledged the passing of the eight HOA members who joined the "Chapter Eternal" in 2022: Brian Seydlitz, Fred Whisman, Dale Neuman, Ron McIntire, Dick Korek, Bruce Wenner, Harry Stewart and Jim Porter.
Don Fuson was named the 2022 Barbershopper of the Year, while Dave Hokanson was named winner of the Oz Newgard Award for outstanding musical service to the chapter and Rick Foreman received the John Cross Award for best attendance and willingness to take on unwanted jobs.
Photos by Rich Huyck
Front row: installing "Bailiff" Martin Oldehoeft and "Judge" John Erwine. The new board, left to right: Board Member Marlin Weidler, President Mike Schumacher, Immediate Past President Charles Ramirez, Executive VP Rick Foreman, Operations VP Steve Keisker, Treasurer Harvey Shapiro, Program VP Jerry Meier, Marketing VP Ted Simon, Board Member Tom Riedel, Board Member Vince Perry IV, Music and Performance VP Bob Velazquez, Secretary Tom Hadley, Chapter Development VP Don Fuson and Board Member Danny Anderson.
|By Jerry Meier|
Thanks to a generous grant from Harmony Foundation International, the Main Street Barbershop Quartet (2017 BHS International Champion) performed at four schools on Dec. 2, 2022, the Friday before the Holiday Harmony Spectacular, where Main Street also headlined.
Roger, Tony, Mike and Myron arrived early at California Trail Middle School in Olathe to entertain Cassandra Sutherland's Choir Program with songs and Deagan Organ Chimes. They briefly explained and demonstrated how the barbershop style of a cappella music blends four voices together to harmoniously expand the sounds into something bigger than themselves.
Lead Tony DeRosa served as the "Master of Ceremonies" and center of attention at each school stop. The quartet sang four songs as they demonstrated the barbershop style of music while answering questions and teaching tags.
Tenor Roger Ross routinely answered the most common question, "How long have you been singing Barbershop?" with the same clever answer: "since 7:30 a.m. this morning!"
The quartet effectively demonstrated how a simple three-part harmony (upper harmony + melody + bass foundation) was pleasant but not quite good enough, because one part was missing. Baritone Mike McGee proudly demonstrated the missing part of the four-part harmony by singing his baritone part solo - the "garbage part" - as described by Tony. All students agreed that four-part a cappella barbershop harmony sounded so much better than one or two or three parts together.
Bass Myron Whittlesey provided additional comic relief during "Frosty the Snowman" by introducing several of their snowman jokes:
-- "Hey!" "What?" "What did the snowman say to the other snowman?" "What?" "Is it me, or do you smell carrots?"
-- "Hey!" "What?" "Where does Frosty keep all of his money?" "Where?" "In a Snow Bank!"
-- "Hey!" "What?" "Where did Frosty learn to dance?" "Where?" "At a Snow Ball!"
(I think you get the picture).
Next the quartet traveled to Olathe North High School and sang for a group of Micah Horton's choir students. Tony and the quartet taught them to sing the tag, "To the Last Goodbye." In the vocal music programs, the sopranos sing tenor; the altos sing lead; the tenors sing baritone, and the basses sing bass (because they cannot sing any other part).
After lunch, the quartet traveled to Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park (home of Stand By Barbershop Quartet, the 2018 8th Place and 2019 7th Place NextGEN Varsity Quartet Finalist). Main Street sang for two classrooms of choir students taught by Beth Richey-Sullivan. Two VLQs (very large quartets) were inspired by Main Street to step forward and sing the tags.
The final stop was Oregon Trail Middle School in Olathe. Beth Nelson was entertaining four classrooms of students in the Auditorium when Main Street arrived. Main Street took the stage and the students were thrilled. After school, one middle school student told the quartet that he had formed a Barbershop Club at the Middle School, and was planning to participate in Harmony Explosion in February. That's exactly the message that we wanted to hear at the end of the day.
|Eighty-four chorus singers, led by 2017 International quartet champion Main Street, performed the 24th year of the Holiday Harmony Spectacular -- aptly named "Holiday Traditions."|
The Heart of America Barbershop Chorus and the Kansas City Chorus of Sweet Adelines took the stage Dec. 3, 2022, at the Unity Village Auditorium performing for an audience of about 645.
Audience members welcomed the annual kickoff to their Christmas season, complimenting the singing and general holiday fun. Cast members said they had a great time too, happy to perform again after too much pandemic isolation.
The show opened with singers in holiday garb representing holiday hustle, bustle and mishaps in a script by Sweet Adeline Kimi Ruder. The first act included traditional tunes "We Need a Little Christmas," "Home for the Holidays," It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas/Pinecones and Holly Berries" and "Joy to the World," directed by Carter Combs, Michelle Hunget, Heather Schouten, Bob Velazquez, Kris DeWeese and Mike Schumacher.
Each chorus also performed their own separate holiday song sets. The program also was salted with songs by Sweet Adeline quartets Sassaphras, Ransom Notes, EarBuds and 4's Company and Barbershopper quartets KC Common, Homeward Bound and Swing Shift.
The highlight of the night was headliner quartet Main Street, an international quartet champion whose members hold a total of 13 international competition medals. The foursome sports a traditional style of soft shoe dance, slapstick and nostalgic songs, evocative of the Dapper Dans of Disney World. All four members have sung at Disney with the Dans and/or the Voices of Liberty.
The show's second act opened with a children's chorus singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. They were then joined by HOA and KCC in formal tuxes and gowns in black and red, singing "Away in a Manger," "Silent Night/Angels from Heaven," "This is My Wish" and "Oh Holy Night."
At intermission, a U.S. Marine representative received a stage-full of Toys for Tots collected by cast and audience members.
The show was followed by a cast party, or Afterglow. in which quartets sang and Main Street performed nearly a second entire show. That was followed by an after-party, a Glimmer, at the home of Carter and Jeffi Combs, where Main Street did it again.
|By John Braden|
The Heart of America Chorus returned to the contest stage for the first time since pre-COVID 2019, competing in the chorus contest of the Fall Central States District Convention, Oct. 8 in Lawrence, Kan.
(Spring convention in Wichita did not count, since nobody showed up but HOA and host Smorgaschorus.)
Twenty-eight men dressed in a simulation of 1920s working men's "best" clothes, waiting for the train to arrive. Some of the less ambulatory sat on the front row on park benches. "Daddy" Mike Schumacher introduced his new "baby" to "Grandad" Bob Murphy, cueing up "That's an Irish Lullaby." Amazingly, the kid then slept through arrival of the train carrying the Dixieland Five and a rousing rendition of "Muskrat Ramble."
Chorus members received several favorable comments from audience members on the staging and costumes and our ability to entertain.
Music Judge Andrew Carolan said there obviously was thought put into the performance. Carolan cited accomplishment, energy and solid handling of "Muskrat Ramble" with a key change that provided a lift in intensity. On "Irish Lullaby," Carolan suggested working more on singing gently without losing quality, a strong but heartfelt sound. He said the lullaby is gentle, while the rest of the song can be heart wrenching.
Chorus members said it felt great to be back on a big stage again, and welcomed seeing other choruses and quartets (including HOA's Swing Shift and kc COMMON) perform. Another highlight, especially for Daddy Mike, was the first District Quartet Championship to be won in any district by a women's quartet, First Class, with Mike's daughter, Stacy Schumacher, singing lead.
The contests were followed, and perhaps upstaged, by a CSD 75th (plus 1) anniversary past champs show, climaxed by a performance by 2006 International quartet champion Vocal Spectrum, with silver medalist Midtown's Anthony Fortino filling in on lead for VS's Eric Dalby.
HOA came in ninth in a field of 12 that was led by International qualifier and Plateau IV Men's Chorus champion Ambassadors of Harmony of St. Charles, Mo.
|By John Erwine|
A very mild fall day provided a comfortable round of golf for the 15 foursomes who played in the Sept. 22, 2022, Heart of America Chorus Golf Scramble at WinterStone Golf Course. It had been so hot in the days preceding the scramble that this was a welcome relief.
As always, WinterStone, in Independence, provided excellent playing conditions and made this a most enjoyable day for all. To conclude the day, we enjoyed a buffet dinner of BBQ pulled pork and chicken, cheesy corn, baked beans and lemonade.
We owe a huge ‘thank you’ to all our hole sponsors. Why? Because every cent of these funds goes to our bottom line to help support and share our singing passion. A huge recognition goes to our Eagle sponsors, donating no less than $1,000. They are Bob & Jane Ruthersford, and Creative Planning. Our Birdie sponsors, donating no less than $500 are In Harmony Therapeutic Massage, and World Travel Services. And a huge thank you and recognition to the 19 Hole sponsors who donated no less than $100 each. In total, these gracious donations amounted to $6,320.
We had a great talent pit of volunteers that came together making this another successful fund-raiser. This must also include everyone in the chapter who pitched in to help when asked as well. Our cast of volunteers to be especially recognized this year are Harvey Shapiro, Mike Schumacher, Tom Hadley, Mike O’Dell, Don Fuson, Rich Huyck, John Erwine, Linda Schumacher, Marty Oldehoeft, Bart Bartholomew, Jim Bagby, Charles Ramirez and Wally Thornton. Not to be left on the doorstep is the quartet Swing Shift, which provided some relaxing and much-enjoyed barbershop quartet singing.
But this is no time to sit back. Now hear this:
Players and Potential Players: #1 -- Clean, wipe down and polish your clubs. #2 -- make a note in your Day-Timer with a big red X for Sept. 21, 2023. It is already penciled in and waiting.
Everyone: It’s not too early to be putting a list together of potential players, sponsors (big and small), even the opportunity to be a volunteer to help make the next HOA Golf Scramble another smooth-running event. Believe it or not, I think volunteers have about as much fun as those on the greens.
Hmmmmm… do you suppose we could work in a spring scramble also? Just wondering…
|The Heart of America Chorus scored a festival double play Sept. 24, staging flash mob performances at festivals in Liberty and Lee's Summit, Mo.|
Similar to a tactic used Sept. 3 in Independence, the flash mob descended on the Liberty Fall Festival in the morning of Sept. 24 with performances on two corners of the historic courthouse building followed by another singout a couple of blocks down the street.
On cue from Director Carter Combs, leads Vince Perry (VP4) and John Braden kicked off "Muskrat Ramble" for unwary passersby. Chorus members dressed in non-matching HOA shirts materialized from the crowd for the two-song performances. Chapter fliers and Holiday Harmony Spectacular notices were distributed to the impromptu crowds.
Then chorus members jumped in their cars and caravanned down Missouri Highway 291 to Lee's Summit for early afternoon performances at the Oktoberfest in downtown Lee's Summit.
Lessons learned: The Lee's Summit event was fairly compact and the amplified bands were close together. Feeling a little outgunned by all the loud speakers, chorus members moved to spots where they could stand, backs to the wall, and gave shorter performances where they could still be heard.
But when the flash mob dispersed, the beer tents were welcoming. The beer and brats (and funnel cakes, and caramel corn and snow cones and… ) were great!
|By John Braden|
Members of the Heart of America Barbershop Chorus infiltrated the courthouse square in Independence Sept. 3 blending into the Santa-Cali-Gon festival crowd until Director Carter Combs cued them to assemble as a flash mob at the northwest corner of the square.
Leads Tom Hadley and John Braden launched into “Ra da da da da…” drawing the group in to perform “Muskrat Ramble” in a surprise to festival passersby. They followed that up with “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” then dispersed in different directions (in case somebody called the cops).
The 18 chorus members, dressed mostly in non-matching HOA shirts, faded away until they pulled the same stunt at the southwest corner, with “Muskrat” and “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along.” The final mob came at the new Uptown Market building, a block off the square with “Muskrat” again and “A Wink and a Smile.”
Chapter fliers and Holiday Harmony Spectacular notices were distributed to the impromptu crowds and many favorable comments were received. The entire event took place on the area’s first comfortable sunny day in weeks. Part of the gang then reassembled at Three Trails Brewing on the east side of the square for exotic beers, flatbread pizza and sandwiches.
Four of the guys, Carter Combs, John Braden, Bob Velazquez and Eric Weber, were uncharacteristically late to the bar. First, they stopped by the “Main Street 1849,” event where they crashed a mustache and beard-growing contest, as the quartet Swing Shift singing Stephen Foster’s “If You’ve Only Got a Moustache.” Swing Shift got in one last mini-flash mob, singing “Hi, Neighbor” to John’s actual neighbor, Independence motorcycle cop Evan Bateman, on duty on the square.
This was the 50th consecutive year for Santa-Cali-Gon’s celebration of Independence as the jumping-off point for the three westward trails, Santa Fe, Overland and Oregon. The festival has drawn up to 300,000 people over Labor Day weekend.
|By John Erwine|
Here we go again, presenting the most fun you’ll ever have playing in a golf
We will be at WinterStone Golf Course in Independence again this year, our third. They have one of the better courses in the metro area, public or private. They genuinely have been a partner with us to make these outings fun and profitable. Last year was the best attended and the most profitable thanks to our supporters.
I have visited with golfers over time asking about their tournaments they’ve played in. The one thing always without fail, is the subject of entry fees. Almost without question we are the most affordable game in town. While our entry fees range from $100 to $120, depending on when you sign up, many are charging $300 to $400.
The other thing that makes us stand out is the number of door prizes and raffle items we provide, not to mention competitive activities on the course which are not included with the entry fee. Also, the buffet we offer as part of the package may or may not be included with other groups.
We are beginning this campaign to solicit golfers, sponsors, and prizes in plenty of time to not be under lots of pressure. Please look at the HOA Scramble flier under the Golf Scramble tab on HOA's website, www.hoachorus.com, for sponsorship and entry fee amounts. In addition, a "Pay Online" feature is under construction
For questions, help or clarification here are some of the guys: Harvey Shapiro, firstname.lastname@example.org; Mike Schumacher, email@example.com; Mike O’Dell, firstname.lastname@example.org; John Erwine, email@example.com .
WinterStone Golf Course
|By John Braden|
After 14 months of pandemic idleness, the Heart of America Chorus drilled to get back into performing shape, but there were no performances to be had. Director Carter Combs proposed going on the road as a "flash mob" at various community festivals and events.
Near the top of the list of area festivals was Make Music Liberty -- which nobody had ever heard of. Turns out Make Music is a global event on June 21 -- the first day of summer -- in which any musician who wants to can take part. HOA's John Erwine simply contacted them and got HOA and the quartet Swing Shift invitations for three central locations.
HOA prepares to sing at Make Music Liberty
June 21 brought the hottest singing the chorus experienced in a long time -- temps in the 90s, heat index in the unthinkable.
Swing Shift got lucky, kicking off the chapter's participation with a 4 p.m. performance in the AIR-CONDITIONED Second Baptist Church before about 20 folks. That left time for barbecue and a cold one before they traveled a couple of blocks to the old Courthouse south steps for a 6 p.m. set -- on concrete steps facing south. Fortunately, the sun declined a bit, making shade from nearby trees on the steps, where the quartet sang.
The PBR Boys.
HOA then fiiled into the City Hall Plaza at 7 p.m. where they sang in the shade for about 30 people, then talked with audience members and passed out chorus fliers. The chorus performance featured most of the current repertoire, plus short sets by The PBR Boys, Homeward Bound and Swing Shift again.
The chorus then got a back room at Conrad's Restaurant and Ale House for dinner. Twenty-one of the group assembled around a long table where they ate, drank and sang songs, which drew appreciative visits from other diners in the restaurant. Who knew the guys remembered "Tie Me to Your Apron Strings Again" and "That Old Quartet of Mine," or even knew "The Gang that Sang Heart of My Heart"!
|By Jerry Meier|
Eight student quartets were declared medalists March 26 at Harmony Explosion! 2022 -- which was 100 percent virtual again this year. This should be the last year for the virtual format.
The eight student quartets participated by creating and submitting one YouTube video of their a cappella performances. Eight Harmony Explosion! judges (four from the Barbershop Harmony Society and four from Sweet Adelines International) evaluated each video for singing quality and overall performance. Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals were awarded.
Medals were awarded to the following student quartets:
GOLD Three and a Half Men, Lawrence High School
SILVER The Fortes, Olathe Northwest High School
SILVER The Four Tenors, Olathe Northwest High School
SILVER The Accidentals, Olathe Northwest High School
GOLD The BCLA Quartet, Mill Valley High School
GOLD The Shirley Tempos, Augusta High School
SILVER Thunderous Harmony, St. James Academy High School
GOLD The Sole Sisters, St. James Academy High School
You can find the 2022 YouTube videos on the Heart of America Chorus website, www.hoachorus.com (along with Harmony Explosion! quartet performances from past years). Simply click on the News and Events tab, then select Harmony Explosion!
Save the date!
Make a note that Harmony Explosion! 2023 will be held on site and in person, on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at Grace United Methodist Church in Olathe, Kan.
What: Harmony Explosion! 2023
When: Saturday, Feb. 18 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Grace United Methodist Church, 11485 S. Ridgeview, Olathe, KS 66061
|As the COVID pandemic dwindled, the Heart of America Chorus returned to face-to-face Barbershopping at the March 18-19, 2022, Central States District Convention in Wichita. While HOA was spoiling for its first chorus contest since 2019, no other chorus, except host Smorgaschorus, wanted to come out and face us.|
While we'd like to think we scared off the spring small chorus competition, the lack of chorus registrations was blamed on the remaining pandemic fears and perhaps the thought that some of CSD's far-flung chapters weren't up for a trip out to Kansas after being dormant for so long.
So, convention organizers reorganized, bumping the spring small chorus contest to the fall contest Oct. 7-8 in Lawrence. Stay tuned for more on that.
In the meantime, HOA and Smorgaschorus were invited to turn that unused contest time into full-blown chorus "coaching under glass" sessions with the assembled contest judges and any spectators welcome. Then each chorus got featured performance spots on the convention agenda.
Meanwhile, chapter members got to meet with other Barbershoppers, singing tags and songs and comparing experiences. With the usual choruses missing, the hallways and meeting rooms at the Hyatt Regency were not as crowded as usual and were dominated by competing quartet members -- a boon for young tag singers.
HOA's two competing quartets, Swing Shift and On the Rocks, walked into an International qualifying contest with former district champs; former International qualifiers; a Sweet Adelines Region 10 winner from the BHS Southwestern District, The Ladies; and fifth-place International medalist Midtown from the Mid-Atlantic District. Suffice it to say, Swing Shift and On the Rocks were happy to entertain a sympathetic and enthusiastic Barbershopper audience for the first time in a long while.
Chiefs shirts and jackets and hats, oh my!
|For more information, see:||www.facebook.com/hoachorus|
|Harmony Explosion! 2022 -- scheduled for Saturday, March 26 -- will be 100 percent virtual again this year. Student quartets will submit unlisted YouTube videos of their a cappella songs.|
Special rules (first created in 2021) will be used again this year to encourage choir students at local schools to participate virtually and sing in quartets. The updated rules can be found on the HOA Chorus website, www.hoachorus.com. Go to the News & Events tab, click on Harmony Explosion! and look for the entry dated Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021.
Eight Harmony Explosion! judges, four from the Barbershop Harmony Society and four from Sweet Adelines International, will evaluate each video for singing quality and overall performance. Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals will be awarded for student quartet performances.
Results will be announced by Friday, April 1. The 2022 YouTube videos will be available for viewing on the Heart of America Chorus website, www.hoachorus.com.
2021 Harmony Explosion! performance video links are still on the HOA Chorus website, www.hoachorus.com. Go to the News & Events tab, and click on Harmony Explosion! to see the video links (posted Saturday, April 17, 2021).
|By John Braden|
Hardworking chapter secretary Tom Hadley was named 2021 Barbershopper of the Year, while Jennifer "Jeffi" Combs earned the Oz Newgard Award and chapter jack of all trades Don Fuson received the 2021 John Cross Award at HOA's Installation and Awards Banquet Jan. 8.
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 75 winners of the Barbershopper of the Year -- or its previous titles of Man of the Year, Honor Night winner and Achievement Award winner. The 2020 winner was Marlin Weidler.
In the relatively short time that Tom Hadley has been an HOA member -- since 2018 -- he has jumped in with both feet, to quote President Mike Schumacher. Tom has been a quartet lead, in charge of volunteers for several years at the Golf Scramble, has worked at Harmony Explosion for three years pre-pandemic, has taken over the fundraising ticket sales and marbles drawing and is beginning his fourth year as chapter secretary. Couple that with a perpetual sunny attitude and a repertoire of dumb jokes and you have Tom, the 2021 Barbershopper of the Year.
The Oz Newgard 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 an individual who has provided outstanding musical service to the chapter and chorus. The previous winner, Bob Velazquez in 2017, turned in the big traveling trophy to the next winner.
This year's winner of the Ozzie, Jeffi Combs, is the second woman to win the award, after 1998's nomination of chorus and quartet coach Harriet Gall. Her spouse, HOA director and tenor Carter Combs, won the Ozzie in 2005.
Jeffi, a member of the Kansas City Chorus of Sweet Adelines, was chosen for her regular and consistent support over the years that has bolstered the musical morale of the Heart of America Chorus. This includes considerable financial support of HOA fundraising projects through sponsorships of the annual Golf Scramble, and advertising in HOA show programs on behalf of her aptly named business, In Harmony Therapeutic Massage LLC. As a proponent of our show preparations, for the last umpty-ump years, Jeffi has led assembly of lunches for the Caroling Caravan and overseen lunches for HOA shows since the demise of the Heartbeats. She is certainly not the only HOA spouse who contributes considerable time and effort to support the chapter, but she is perhaps the most notable for her unfailingly sunny disposition and her incomparable snickerdoodle cookies.
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 he was named Barbershopper of the Year. Since then, there have been 31 John Cross Awards made. Last year's winner was Ron McIntire.
Don Fuson joined the Society in 2000. While being a Barbershopper for "only" 21 years, he has managed to take on jobs most members find inconceivable. He is a registered quartetter, past District Seniors Quartet Champ and International Seniors Chorus Champ. Less importantly, he is past chapter and Central States District president, International Board member and International president in 2015-2016. Recently Don has been serving as chapter Membership Vice President and has been the go-to guy for everything from extra copies of music to photos for the Facebook page.
Joe remains on the shelf in 2021
Joe Stern Award -- Because of the significance of this honor, this year the Joe Stern Award panel voted to make no 2021 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.
|On Saturday, January 8, 2022, KC Chapter Members held their Installation Banquet, with former chapter President, Don Young, doing the installation honors.|
Charles Ramirez is the new Chapter President
Jeffi Combs was presented the Oz Newgard Award for excellence in Musical services
Tom Hadley was named the 2021 Barbershopper of the Year
Don Fuson received the John Cross Award for 2021
We gathered in a social time to watch the tail end of the Chiefs game (Yea!) and then watch various 2019-2020-2021 pictures of chapter activities. Zoom rehearsals, Golf Tourney, Caroling Caravan, 2021 Holiday Show, and just pictures of chapter members singing and engaging in the fellowship that our chorus and chapter members are known for.
We continue to meet at 7pm on Tuesday evenings at the First Methodist Church, 301 SW Woods Chapel Road, Blue Springs MO just south of I-70. We would welcome YOU to visit and sing with us!
|Scenes from the Installation Dinner|
|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 hoachorus.com.)
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.
|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.
|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 www.hoachorus.com 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; firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
|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.
|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!
|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.
|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 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 hoachorus.com, log in under Members and click on Teaching Resources. Non-members, contact John Braden at email@example.com.
|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.
|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.
|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!
|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.
|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.
|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, www.hoachorus.com.)
|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!
|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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be looking forward in the coming weeks and months for updates as we proceed.
|By Mike Schumacher|
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.
|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 hoachorus.com 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 https://donate.salarmymokan.org/campaign/2020-heart-of-america-chorus/c308426.
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.
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.