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Chorus satisfies musical sweet tooth
A new group in Yuma is singing sweet harmonies.
The Ladies' Barbershop Chorus was formed in November and is still accepting members. Organizers say all female music lovers are welcome to join and participants need not be experienced.
"If you enjoy singing, you're welcome to join. It's a fun thing to do," said group organizer Nina Swanson.
Many members were part of the former Hi Jolly Chapter of the Sweet Adelines. The chapter disbanded two years ago, leaving many members yearning for an outlet to satisfy their musical sweet tooth. The new group has supplied that outlet, especially for women who winter in Yuma, away from their home chapters.
Ginger Weiss of Great Falls, Mont., sings with a barbershop chapter in her hometown. "I like it so much I miss it when when I'm not there. It's like part of you is missing."
Other members feel the same way. "Many of us used to be in ladies barbershop chapters and we decided we wanted to sing barbershop again. We put the word out and sent out a flier," Swanson explained.
They had a good response, attracting 22 members.
"We would love to have as many as would like to come. Come share the music," Swanson said.
For more information on joining, call director B.J. Lord at 726-5850 or Swanson at 342-7158. The group practices at 7 p.m. every Tuesday at the Community Christian Church, 6480 E. Highway 95.
The group looks forward to its first public performance, but the ladies aren't rushing that first concert.
"We're waiting until we're ready," Swanson said. "It's been a learning process."
Barbershop is challenging because there is no musical accompaniment, Swanson said.
"Although the director is experienced, we're still learning, getting to know each other. It's a lot of fun. We laugh a lot."
Swanson, who plans to become a permanent Yuma resident this year, noted that about three-quarters of the members are winter visitors who will soon be going home. Therefore, the group will go on hiatus at the end of March and will restart at the end of October.
Barb Forbister of Nanaimo, British Columbia, belonged to the Hi Jolly chapter for seven years and has been part of another chorus in Canada for 19 years.
"When I found out (Lord) was getting a group together, I was very happy about singing together. It's the joy of my life. There are two things I love: my family and the other is singing," Forbister said.
Lord, born and raised in Yuma, was also director of Hi Jolly. That group had been one of oldest chorus groups in the region before it disbanded for "lack of interest." She was initially a music student, playing the violin, piano and clarinet before discovering barbershop.
Lord joined Hi Jolly in 1979 and became its director in 1981.
For member Sylvia Allen, barbershop is a family affair - her husband, son and son-in-law are all involved in the local men's group, the Yuma Territorial Prisonaires. Her daughter is also a member of the women's group.
"I've always loved barbershop, but I never had time until I retired," Allen said.
Member Mary Ellen Deprey said she is happy when she sings. She got the "barbershop bug" after her husband became involved in it about two years ago.
"I was jealous so I started doing it too," Deprey said, "and the group here is so wonderful."