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Pitch perfect: Musician rediscovers voice in chorus, earns World Championship

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, July 14, 2018
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Gary Davis was due.

The vagabond musician chased rock-n-roll part-time for a long time, bouncing around in a series of bands where the guitarist covered everything from Bon Jovi to the heavy metal stylings of Anthrax. But, in 2012, the New Fairview resident got bad news.

Gary Davis. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

His job at Alliance Airport was disappearing. Davis had worked security for American Airlines for 24 years and it supported his family and his passion – guitar.

Leading up to losing his job, the long nights on the road led to strains on his family, Davis said. He quit the band not long after.

It was a dark time. He was searching for jobs and also his passion as an artist. But not long after, he found it, back where his music career began.

“I haven’t shed tears over it, or missed it, not once in six years,” he said.

As a young boy, Davis sang gospel on Sundays. It’s where he got into music. On July 6, after years of honing his choral craft, Davis, along with 152 other members of the barbershop harmony collective Vocal Majority, were crowned the best in the world at the Barbershop Harmony Society Chorus World Championship in Orlando.

Davis has a job now, working on medical equipment for John Peter Smith Hospital. He’s also got a gold medal and a big smile that he can’t seem to wipe off his face.

“I can’t tell enough people about it,” Davis said. “When I look back on this, this is probably one of the happiest times of my life.”

Davis sings lead for Vocal Majority.

The win in Orlando was the chorus’ 13th World Championship. The group competed against 30 choruses with 1,800 artists. The competition came from as far as New Zealand, Sweden, Great Britain and Canada to sing for the gold.

It’s been a whirlwind, Davis said. Before joining Vocal Majority, Davis got into Barbershop Harmony music off the encouragement of his family.

“They really have brought me out of a low place, because I love music so much, and then I stopped,” Davis said. “I stopped playing to spend more time with my family. I felt like I neglected them a lot, playing music so much. But they were the ones that encouraged me to pursue barbershop.”

Davis joined Vocal Majority in 2014. Last year, the group came in second place. This year, Davis said they came back motivated.

“Some of the guys were in tears last year,” he said. “One guy was calling his wife, saying he lost. She said, ‘You lost what? You got second in the world.’ We all laughed. He hadn’t thought about it like that. But the expectation is to win.

The win in 2018 for Vocal Majority – which consists of males, young and old from around the Metroplex – vaulted the group for the most ever championships in barbershop competition. The group won’t be able to compete for the title for another two years, a Barbershop Harmony Society rule.

Solid Gold

SOLID GOLD – Gary Davis, a chorus singer from New Fairview, shows off the gold medal he and the other 152 members of the Vocal Majority won on July 6 in Orlando. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

At Vocal Majority, Davis said he’s found more than greatness and gold medals.

“It’s just a big brotherhood,” Davis said. “If you’re losing your way, they have people there to help you. There are so many fantastic people. It’s like a big family.”

On the road to the world title, Vocal Majority met every Thursday evening, often staying past 11 p.m. Davis said it’s where the brotherhood was forged.

After Vocal Majority racked up 2,912 points and edged out Los Angeles’ Westminster Chorus for the title, the Majority gets some time off and a chance to bask in the victory.

While the off-time is appreciated, Davis said he’s ready to get back and singing.

“I already miss them,” Davis said.

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