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Sweet Adelines delivers musical 'bouquet' for Valentine's Day

So Divine is made up of Jamee Billings, from left, Ashlyn Gibbs, Mary Jane Onsager and Christi Black.

So Divine

So Divine is made up of Jamee Billings, from left, Ashlyn Gibbs, Mary Jane Onsager and Christi Black.

A cappella means singing without accompaniment. Some call it music's purest form. Toss in a little barbershop four-part-harmony and you're tapping into a good, old Americana sound; a genre that's seeing a resurgence on television shows such as Glee, The Voice and in movie theaters, too, with the 2012 musical comedy Pitch Perfect.

Indeed, a hipster a cappella group called Pentatonix is playing sold-out tours throughout the country these days, since winning NBC's The Sing Off. Then there's Straight No Chaser, an all-male collegiate group and fan favorite out of Indiana University known for its fun take on holiday tunes. The group has performed at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, gotten millions of hits on YouTube and is adding another CD to a collection that is due out soon.

Closer to home there's the Suncoast Harmony Chorus, a chapter of Sweet Adelines International. The all-female group has been performing locally since 1986 and in Sweet Adelines competitions. Under the direction of Amy Riddle, they have been busy preparing for their upcoming annual show and the annual competition held in April in Daytona.

"A Barbershop Bouquet," featuring 28 voices from Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Pinellas counties will be held Feb. 17 in a new venue: the Richey Suncoast Theatre. The show will provide a "bouquet" of oldies including patriotic and Irish tunes, country and western and '50s music.

The concert also features special guests So Divine, a young female quartet that hails from Citrus County and was named the 2012 Young Women in Harmony Quartet Champions for Region 9 and represented Florida in international competition in Denver.

"It's kind of cool that it's not just an old people's performing group any more," said Riddle, a Land O'Lakes High assistant principal and former school choral director who has been leading the Suncoast Harmony Chorus for 16 years.

The genre does have a way of hooking singers in, said chorus member, Cindy LaPorte, 70, of Brooksville. She has been a member since 1994 and got her start with Sweet Adelines in 1983 while living in Illinois.

"I love to sing and I love a cappella four-part harmony," said LaPorte, who also helps direct on occasion. "You just can't beat it. It's more of a challenge than singing with accompaniment. It's almost like a sport — you practice it and you perform it."

Donna Marie Freeman, 61, is a new member who started in November. She said she is more than willing to make the trek from Spring Hill for weekly rehearsals in west Pasco.

"I sang in church choirs, but this is my first time (singing) without accompaniment," she said. "I didn't really know much about it, but I auditioned and they accepted me with the lead section. There's a lot to learn."

"But the thing I like about the music is that it brings back memories from the past," Freeman said. "You're singing songs from when you were younger but in a different way: the old songs like Bandstand Boogie and Rockin' Robin, Love Me Tender and Shenandoah. It makes you feel good when you're singing. It makes me feel good when I'm singing."

Michele Miller can be reached at

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Tickets for this show may be purchased by calling Richey Suncoast Theatre at (727) 842-6777. An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect phone number.

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The Suncoast Harmony Chorus presents "A Barbershop Bouquet" at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. Tickets are $12. For reservations, call the box office at (727) 842-6777.

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Sweet Adelines delivers musical 'bouquet' for Valentine's Day 02/07/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 11, 2013 9:57am]
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