Mention the word “barbershop quartet,” and the image that pops into most people’s heads is of four middle-aged or older men, probably wearing vests of some sort, singing songs popular maybe 100 years ago or more.
So the last place you’d expect to see a revival of this type of singing is in high school, right?
Don’t tell that to a group of students currently forming the Northwest High School Barbershop Society.Freshman Sebastian Davis of Rhome is a member of the Southwest Sound Chorus, a men’s a cappella performing chorus based on the four-part harmony barbershop style of singing. He said he and his dad joined the Panther City Troubadours a couple of years ago after finding out about the group on Craigslist.
“They were looking for new members,” Davis said. “We went in there and really liked it. We decided to audition, and they accepted us.”
Earlier this year, the group merged with the Texas Millionaires to form Southwest Sound. The group is made up of men ages 13 and up.
Davis sang in the choir at Pike Middle School last year. After the students sang “Winter Wonderland” barbershop-style at the Christmas concert, he asked other choir members if they would like to keep doing barbershop-style singing. Several were interested.
“I’ve loved singing my whole life,” said Paul Cockrum, another freshman working to form the group. “I sing in four-part harmony at church … It’s a whole new aspect of singing, and barbershop quartet is probably one of the hardest choral singing styles there is.”
Barbershop harmony consists of four parts – tenor, lead, baritone and bass. When all four come together, it makes for a most unique sound.
“To me, it’s not the kind of music it is, it’s just that amazing range you can hear in harmony, and it makes you want to stay with it,” Davis said.
Fellow student Garrett Moltzan of Justin said he enjoyed the brief experience with barbershop-style singing last year and looked forward to expanding it this year.
“It’s hard, but it’s also amazing at the same time when you get everything down,” he said. “We only did a couple of songs last year, but I thought it was really a fun experience and that if we had a legit barbershop quartet it would be a really fun experience.”
The group hopes to be able to form quickly in order to start practicing to be ready to perform by Christmas.
“My vision is that if we can get enough (members), we can do public outings, go out and sing for talent shows and the general public,” Davis said. “If we can get some songs learned by Christmas time maybe we can sing at the Christmas Concert. We’ve also discussed the idea of going around to areas like Southlake Town Center and maybe singing down there one night.”
As of Monday, the group totaled around 10 people, but meetings were held Tuesday to help spread the word about the group and try to find others who might be interested.
If things take off as anticipated, the goal would also include getting younger students involved.
“One of our goals is to set forth an example and love of music for others behind us to follow,” Cockrum said. “It’s harder to get something started, but it’s a lot easier to continue it. So if we can instill a love of singing in the younger kids, maybe in the ones coming up from elementary school to where they can grow an interest in it, over time it will make the group grow stronger.”
The group has a website, nhsbarbershopsociety.webs.com, with contact information and an application form.