For historical news items, click here
Swing Shift reps HOA at Fox4 Love Fund event
|On behalf of the Heart of America Barbershop Chorus, the quartet Swing Shift performed Nov. 15, 2023, for a neighborhood holiday benefit organized by the Fox4 Love Fund.|
The quartet performed Christmas carols for an early Thanksgiving dinner for 22 families with about 40 children at Banneker Elementary School in Kansas City, Kan. Volunteers served a dinner of pan-fried chicken and fixin's donated by Strouds Restaurants as Swing Shift sang its holiday package.
Then the youngsters moved to the next room, where Santa Claus awaited to hear their Christmas wishes. To help fulfill those wishes, families went home that night with Thanksgiving dinner food boxes as well as winter coats, hats and gloves. HOA's Ted Simon and Tony O'Brien delivered a donation of 20 new bicycles provided by Walmart.
Initiated by former WDAF-TV 4 anchor Cynthia Smith, the Fox4 Love Fund is dedicated to fulfilling unmet needs of children in the Kansas City area. The non-profit organization helps provide therapeutic tools, medical equipment, eye exams, clothing, shoes, bedding and other needed items.
HOA quartets had a good time, and improved
|"Sitting in the Lied Center, I was mesmerized by the quality of the quartet contest," HOA President Mike Schumacher said of the quartet contests at the CSD Fall Convention, Oct. 13-14 in Lawrence.|
"As I listened, I realized there was an example of every concept of Barbershop we have tried to work on," he added. "What I took from watching every quartet was how the quality of the contest has increased every year."
Chris Walker, the new tenor with 2013 CSD Senior Quartet champion Homeward Bound, was blown away by his new experience with singers Carl Turlin, Don Fuson and Alex Tate. (Homeward Bound currently has eight members, with those four tapped to compete in the quartet semi-finals.)
"Wow! As a first-timer in a quartet performance, you've been coached, not only for the best rendering of all those judging sheet categories that (Director) Carter (Combs) discussed with us on subsequent weeks, but also by your co-singers, about getting on and off the stage, and exuding total confidence in the process," Walker said.
"You stroll out to your position and look out at the -- audience? All that exists there are bright spotlights in your face! And then the pitchpipe, and you're playing off your quartet colleagues, because that's all you've got -- and should have at that point -- making it all work together.
"I'm pumped. Let's do it again!"
The last time Homeward Bound competed at district was in 2015. This time out they scored 65.5, besting their 2015 score by more than 13 points.
Danny Anderson, lead of KC Common, noted scoring consistently shows the quality of Central States District quartets and choruses is much higher than in his previous experience in the Northeastern District. As a result, the competition is tougher.
"KC Common entered this year’s contest with two new quartet members (Marlin Weidler and Paul Camarata – plus Steve Keisker) and two new songs," Anderson said. "Marlin was the last to join and we only had a handful of rehearsals together. Our goal was to show improvement over last year’s performance."
Anderson noted the quartet raised its overall score by 10.6 points from the 2022 CSD Fall contest, to 61.1, which was a tremendous improvement.
"Needless to say, we were pleased with our performance," he said. "During the evaluations period, our standing positions were changed. We were instructed in volume control and the importance of each voice making the complete sound, with one voice not having to be too prominent."
When the quartet sang the contest set again, they could hear the improved sound, Anderson said. "Marlin’s statement was 'Wow.' Paul said he 'was pumped.'"
Swing Shift noted a similar improvement in its score in all categories from Spring 2023, up 6 points to 63.3. And, of course, they had a good time performing.
Of its two Nashville songs, the quartet found "Hey, Good Lookin'" scored a little better than "Crazy." Judge-evaluator Kevin Keller said the erratic melody line of "Crazy" made it a tougher song -- mainly requiring more work. You don't get better scores from singing more complicated songs unless you put more work into the execution, lead John Braden concluded.
Braden, Carter Combs, Charlie Hill and Eric Weber said they appreciated the feedback they received -- the lead singing, in effect, to a microphone instead of the back wall, while the bass drives the quartet, leaving the lead to concentrate on storytelling. All four had fun in a "party on stage" exercise in which, standing in a square, Braden would change off singing eye-to-eye with the other quartet members, trading singing (and visual expression) partners every few phrases.
Heart of America improves scores at district contest
|The Heart of America Chorus faced a tougher field in the Central States District Fall Convention Oct. 13-14 than it had faced in the previous CSD Spring convention in the small chorus contest. Yet the chorus bettered its spring score, making strides in Musicality and Singing categories of judging.|
"I said when I started directing HOA that as long as we are making progress, then I am happy," Director Carter Combs said. "After this weekend, I am ecstatic!"
With 30 men on stage at the Lawrence fall contest, HOA was able to compete in the larger Plateau III Chorus Championships for choruses of 30 and larger. HOA came in ninth with a total average of 68.2 points.
On March 18, in a smaller field at spring contest in Iowa City, Iowa, with only 23 on stage, HOA had scored an overall average of 66.2 to come in second overall and win the Plateau II Chorus Championship for choruses of between 20 and 29 singers on stage.
Combs said he was more than thrilled by HOA's improved scores. The Musicality score increased nearly 7 points, to 68.8 from 62 in the spring, while the Singing score increased more than 4 points to 68.3 from 64 in the spring. Only Performance scores dipped, from (a surprising) 72.5 in the spring to 67.5 in the fall. Chorus members did not catch on to the fall visual plan as quickly as hoped.
Combs said when the chorus left the stage after its set, he knew it had accomplished much of what they were trying to do.
"It takes concentrated effort and dedication to raise scores as much as we did, especially in the short six months since our last contest, and our chorus stepped up and proved we are motivated to continue to improve," he said.
Chapter President Mike Schumacher said he had really looked forward to the chorus contest on Saturday.
"I knew we had some serious competition but all I wanted was our opportunity to show the district how much HOA has grown in personnel and in our musical performance," he said.
As in years past, Schumacher said, the time on stage went by too fast.
"However, I enjoyed myself and felt less stressed about our performance than I have felt in a long time," he added. "This was my first contest singing tenor on both songs. All I have to do now is sing baritone next year and the cycle of all four parts would be complete -- probably not going to happen."
Combs said the Friday night practice Schumacher led (while Combs was in quartet evaluations) was effective in preparing the chorus.
"We had a brief set of warm-up exercises and then we talked through both songs reviewing the choreography," Schumacher said. "Reminders were given about where we were going to start soft so we could grow in intensity and volume but not getting out of control."
After an hour or so, Combs came in and took the chorus through both songs, working on key phrases and making sure they were ready.
"I was very thrilled that we surprised Carter with the way we were singing," Schumacher said.
Schumacher said the chorus' placement in the contest did not affect him at all.
"I was very proud of singing with all our guys and I am looking forward to all the singing opportunities we have coming up," he said.
HOA Golf Scramble 17: A double eagle celebration!
|By John Erwine|
Although under a high temperature weather alert, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, was truly a great day for the Heart of America Chorus’ 17th Golf Scramble! Sunshine, lots of golfers, a great course, plenty of volunteer help, good food, some tag singing, prizes, joking around, and Mulligans for additional help if needed.
This year we had major advancements to be proud of:
-- 22 foursomes – a record!
-- Net profit of $9,609.38 – a record!
So how did this all happen? Someone once said, “It takes a village.” Well, that village just happens to be HOA in spades, whether a golfer, volunteer, sponsor or someone who solicited sponsorships.
We owe a huge ‘thank you’ to all of our sponsors. Every cent of their funds goes to our bottom line to support, strengthen and share our singing passion. It also demonstrates their belief in what we do.
A huge recognition goes to:
-- Double Eagle Sponsor: Bob and Jane Rutherford
-- Eagle Sponsor: Creative Planning
-- Birdie Sponsor: World Travel Services
-- Special Hole Sponsor: PBR Boys Barbershop Quartet
-- Hole Sponsors: Primarily HOA members or those solicited by them. These additional 17 sponsors donated no less than $100 each
We had a great talent pit of volunteers that came together, making this another successful fundraiser. This includes everyone in the chapter who pitched in to help whether asked or not. Volunteers to be especially recognized this year are Co-Chair Harvey Shapiro, Kerry Rawlins, Rich Huyck, Linda Schumacher, Marty Oldehoeft, Jim Bagby, Wally Thornton, Chris Walker, Mike Schumacher, Tony O’Brien, and Swing Shift (John Braden, Eric Weber, Charlie Hill, Carter Combs) who provided their usual much-enjoyed barbershop quartet singing.
To be fair, I must also include Tom Hadley, Aaron Platt, Charles Ramirez, and Bart Bartholomew. They had volunteered and were ready to go, but then life happens – vacation, work, health -- and so could not participate as planned this year.
And not least, the 87 golfers who signed up to play. Their registration fee not only guaranteed their place on the greens, but also a portion of it jumped down to our bottom line as well. Without them, I’ve yet to figure out how we could have a Scramble!
To conclude the day, we enjoyed a buffet dinner of barbecued beef and chicken, cheesy corn, baked beans and lemonade. As always, WinterStone Golf Club provided excellent playing conditions, attention to detail, and made this a most enjoyable day for all.
Players: Get ready for next year! Make a note with a big red ‘X’ for Thursday, Sept. 19, 2024. It is already penciled in and waiting.
Everyone: While fresh in your minds, it’s not too early to be putting a list together of potential players, sponsors (big and small), even volunteers to help make the next one another smooth-running event. Believe it or not, I think volunteers have about as much fun as those on the greens.
Photos by Rich Huyck
'Send-off' show to benefit Barbershop quartets, choruses
|Several top Barbershop quartets and choruses in the Midwest will perform June 10, 2023, in Overland Park, Kan., in a fundraiser "send-off" show for groups who will compete at the 2023 International Barbershop Convention, July 2-9, in Louisville, Ky.|
The Barbershop Harmony International Competitor Benefit Shows are scheduled at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 10 in The White Theatre of the Jewish Community Center, 5801 W. 115th St., Overland Park. General admission tickets are $20 for one show or $30 for both.
Kansas City's Heart of America Barbershop Chorus is acting as a sponsor for the show, working with organizer Mark Fortino, a longtime HOA member and lead singer of one of the competing quartets, Harmonium.
Performers are to include a host of previous International competitors and district champions, including:
Harmonium of Kansas City;
Fleet Street of St. Charles, Mo., Lincoln, Neb., and Cincinnati, Ohio, and
Spitfire of St. Charles, Mo.
Also performing are competitors in the Next Generation Varsity Quartet contest at International:
Tofu Concern of St. Charles, Mo., and Tulsa, Okla;
Momento of St. Charles, Mo., and the Frank Thorne Chapter; and
Evening Glow of St. Louis, a young women's quartet, (at the 2 p.m. show).
Choruses performing include previous international competitors:
SmorgasChorus of South Central Kansas and
The Recruits youth mixed chorus of St. Charles, Mo.
Tickets are $20 for one show and $30 for both. Proceeds go toward the performers' travel expenses to the International Barbershop Convention July 2-9 in Louisville.
Tickets may be purchased at https://in-tuneproductions.com/featured-event or scan the QR code on the show flier or accompanying this article.
A post-show Afterglow is scheduled, following the 7 p.m. show, at Minsky's Pizza, 13400 College Blvd. (College and Pflumm) in Lenexa, Kan. Minsky's also has offered to donate 20 percent of their profits for both Saturday and Sunday to the event. So, patrons could also eat at Minsky's over that weekend and benefit the competing quartets and choruses.
Harmony Explosion! 2023 -- Glad to be back in person
|By Jerry Meier|
Harmony Explosion! 2023 was held on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Grace United Methodist Church in Olathe, Kan. This venue proved once again to be a fantastic location to host Harmony Explosion.
The last time we held this event in person was three years ago in 2020. All of the students and teachers were very happy to resume in--person singing and performing this year. Eighty students from 10 local schools sang on stage in 19 quartets during the morning session. Fourteen of the quartets earned GOLD medals and performed in the afternoon Parade of Quartets Concert.
Harmonium (Micah Jeppesen, Mark Fortino, Michael Troyer, Marshall Crowl) was the featured quartet of the day ---- they taught the mixed chorus song and judged the quartet session with volunteers from the Kansas City Chorus of Sweet Adelines. Harmonium also entertained the audience with three performances throughout the day.
THANK YOU to the dozens of Heart of America and KCCSA and Olathe Trails West volunteers that worked to produce the event, along with the staff at Grace United Methodist Church. I think that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day and had fun helping these students throughout the day.
I want to say THANK YOU to the vocal music teachers at these 10 schools for sending their students to Harmony Explosion:
Jason Cole -- St. James Academy (5 Quartets).
Michael Mays -- Wichita Northwest HS (2 Quartets).
Nicholas Franssen -- Augusta HS (2 Quartets).
Jessie Reimer -- Mill Valley (2 Quartets).
Robin Christie -- Bishop Miege HS (2 Quartets).
Pam Williamson -- Olathe Northwest HS (2 Quartets).
Dr. Dwayne Dunn -- Lawrence HS (1 Quartet).
David Davis -- Harmony Middle School (1 Quartet).
Beth Nelson -- Oregon Trail Middle School (1 Quartet).
Cassie Southerland -- California Trail Middle School (1 Quartet).
Medals were awarded to the following quartets (To see photos, click on the link below or go to News & Events, Harmony Explosion! on the HOA home page.):
8th Grade: GOLD Medal -- T-Birds (Harmony MS, Blue Valley)
8th Grade: SILVER Medal -- Misfits (California Trail MS, Olathe)
8th Grade: SILVER Medal -- Quarter Resters (Oregon Trail MS, Olathe)
10th Grade: SILVER Medal -- Heart Strings (St. James Academy)
10th Grade: SILVER Medal -- Quarter Bass (St. James Academy)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- The Swoops 'N Curls (Mill Valley)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- The All Naturals (Olathe Northwest)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- Cleftomaniacs (Wichita Northwest)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- Marvelous Melodies (St. James Academy)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- Chicks with Kicks (Augusta)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- The Fox Trots (Mill Valley)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- The Looney Tones (Augusta)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- Miege Mamas (Bishop Miege)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- Ritz Crackers (Bishop Miege)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- Thunderous Harmony (St. James Academy)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- Randsom Notes (Wichita Northwest)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- The Accidentals (Olathe Northwest)
12th Grade: GOLD Medal -- Atune-Ah Fermata (Lawrence)
12th Grade: SILVER Medal -- The Crusaders (St. James Academy)
SAVE THE DATE -- Harmony Explosion! 2024 will be held on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at Grace United Methodist Church in Olathe. The featured quartet will be Harmonium. I can't wait to see you there next year!
|For more information, see:||https://www.hoachorus.com/dbpage.php?pg=view&dbase=uploads&id=77145|
National Barbershop Quartet Day was a 'Great Day' for KC
|By John Braden|
The Heart of America Chorus' own Swing Shift quartet celebrated National Barbershop Quartet Day, April 11, 2023, by appearing on WDAF-TV Fox 4's Great Day KC program.
Tenor Carter Combs told viewers how Tulsa businessmen O.C. Cash and Rupert Hall met by chance in the lobby of Kansas City's Muehlebach Hotel in 1938, found two more guys and spent the night singing good old barbershop songs. They returned home to Tulsa where they convened 26 men on April 11 and formed the first chapter of what is now the Barbershop Harmony Society. The Kansas City Chapter -- HOA -- was the second to form in June 1938.
Great Day KC hosts Toni Talley and Adriana Davalos also interviewed Combs, director of the Heart of America Chorus, about HOA legend Dan Henry, who was for many years a weatherman on their station, WDAF-TV Fox 4. The program ran video of Dan in front of his weather map as Carter told the tale. The hosts also told viewers how to visit and join HOA.
Swing Shift was joined by HOA's Marty Oldehoeft subbing on bass for Eric Weber to sing "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along." The station also prerecorded the quartet singing "A Wink and a Smile" and "Sweet and Lovely" for drop-ins during its hour-long show. Lead John Braden and bari Charlie Hill filled out the foursome.
You can see the performance on the attached Fox 4 video.
|For more information, see:||https://fox4kc.com/video/celebrate-national-barbershop-quartet-day/8550423/|
HOA 'Roaring '20s' show had two-year buildup
Kansas City wins District Plateau Championship
|The Heart of America Chorus won the district barbershop championship of its size "plateau" at the Central States District Spring Barbershop Convention, March 18, 2023, in Iowa City, Iowa.|
Under direction of Carter Combs, HOA scored an overall average of 66.2, including a performance score of 72.5 to win the Plateau II Chorus Championship for choruses of between 20 and 29 singers on stage. HOA had 23 on stage.
Singing "That's an Irish Lullaby" and "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along," HOA also scored a 62 in the music category and 64 in the singing category.
The first spring chorus contest since the COVID-19 pandemic included only five choruses performing at the suburban Coralville, Iowa, Center for the Performing Arts. The district's smaller choruses compete in the spring, while larger choruses compete in a fall contest.
With 12 singers on stage, Vox Infinitus of Des Moines, Iowa, won the Plateau I championship for choruses of less than 20 members and the overall small chorus championship with a total score of 74.6.
Other choruses competing were all from Iowa: The Music Men of Dubuque, Old Capitol of Iowa City, and Harmony Hawks Chorus of Cedar Rapids.
Caravan collects $21,577 for Salvation Army
|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."
Big Schu Mob takes over at 2023 HOA Installation Banquet
|"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.