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Hernando Adelines' sing sweet harmonies

Published Oct. 16, 2005

It looks as though Hernando County is beginning to walk on center stage when it comes to entertainment. If you were lucky enough to hear the performance of the Hernando Hills Chapter of Sweet Adelines on Saturday evening at the SNPJ Suncoast Center in Spring Hill, you would have been delighted that barbershop quartet singing is ours to enjoy.

Under the direction of Jeannine Zack, 25 women in colorful costumes gave an excellent performance that included show tunes, vaudeville songs, love songs and medleys that were marvelous examples of the wide range of barbershop quartet singing.

Jeannine pulls together the four types of voices that must blend to form the unique sound of barbershop quartet singing. It takes hours of practice. It's not easy to sing a cappella, but these women do a terrific job. When the tenor, lead, baritone and bass combine, the result is a lovely blend of voices.

The idea for this kind of harmony began in the 1890s and is a strictly American music form. It belonged exclusively to men until a group of women decided they too ought to be able to sing this way.

They set to practice the four vocal parts: tenor, for high notes; lead, which usually sings the melody; baritone, for the low alto range; and bass, for low notes.

The first chapters of Sweet Adelines began in the mid-1940s. The idea spread, and now there are 682 chapters with more than 30,000 members throughout the United States and in nine foreign countries.

The Sweet Adelines' popularity may come from a gentle touch and tenderness that the female voice brings to singing, especially to love songs.

The Sweet Adelines compete throughout the United States every year on state, national and international levels.

Conventions are held throughout the country. The Hernando Hills Chapter will be competing in Orlando in April. Last year, first-place winners in the International Quartet performance were from Sweden.

Mim Davis belonged to the Island Hills Chorus on Long Island before she moved to Spring Hill. Her chapter won first place in the International Chorus competition in 1978. She missed singing after she moved here and found two women interested in forming a chapter of Sweet Adelines. They advertised for a director and for other women who might be interested.

Thirty women answered the ad. In 1982, the first chapter of Sweet Adelines in Hernando County was chartered.

Added to the performance of the Sweet Adelines on Saturday evening were dancers from Charlene's School of Dance. These award-winning young women are outstanding performers. They have competed all over the United States and performed by invitation in the Soviet Union last July.

The Sweet Adelines always are looking for new members. They rehearse at 7 p.m. Thursdays in the music room at Springstead High School, and the door is open to visitors as well. Be ready for lots of practice if you're accepted after an audition.

Chapter members have an obvious affection for their director, Jeannine Zack. They kid her about being the "dictator," so you know that harmony calls for dedication and discipline. Seeing how much the chorus members enjoy themselves when they sing, it must be worth the effort.