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Hooked on Harmony

CONOVER — Barbershop harmony echoes through the halls of Trinity Reformed United Church of Christ each Thursday night. The uplifting sounds come from the voices of Carolina Style Chorus, a chapter of the Sweet Adelines.
“I love the music. It’s just a different sound,” said Jean Danaher, chorus director.
Danaher got the fever for women’s barbershop music when she was a teen. She’s been singing ever since.
“I only wish I had started younger,” she said. “It’s so much fun.”
Danaher leads and instructs members of the 40-person chorus. The group gathers, reviews sheet music, practices numbers, and then breaks into groups for more individualized rehearsals.
Members say it doesn’t take a great ability, just a willingness to learn.
“We will help you learn it. You just have to be able to carry a tune,” member Benita Burris said.
Burris has been involved with the Carolina Style Chorus for four years. She first came because a friend suggested it. She stayed with the group because of a common bond.
“We have such a great time,” she said. “We all live to perform.”
Ruth Gantz, a member for six years, was surprised by the energy and learning opportunity when she joined the group.
“We’re not just a social club. We get together and learn,” she said.
Weekly rehearsals are held in preparation for appearances and competitions. Though the band makes more than 20 appearances a year, they usually only compete once.
Small choruses (those having 40 or less members) are invited to participate in a regional competition each year.
The Carolina Style Chorus took top honors at this year’s competition placing first in their region. The award earned them medals and a chance to compete internationally.
Chorus members packed their bags and sparkly costumes and headed to Furman University.
“They had so much fun getting ready for that,” Danaher said.
The chorus won fourth place for their efforts.
They plan to keep working for next year’s competition and hopefully participate in a different division.
“We really want to grow into a larger chorus,” Burris said.
If the group gains members, they can participate in more competitions — though members and the chorus’s director agree it’s not all about the glory.
“You get hooked on the music, but then you find this whole other family,” Danaher said. “They’re like my second family.”
The “family” comes from near and far to participate — driving from Charlotte, Asheville, Lincolnton and Winston-Salem.
The group has been around for 30 years. Originally called the Hickory Chorus, it changed names about four years ago to better describe its members.
No matter what the name, members say they’re pleasantly surprised by what participation has to offer.
“I envisioned it as a bunch of older ladies, but it’s not your grandmother’s chorus,” said Burris. “It’s very vibrant.”
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The Carolina Style Chorus meets Thursdays at 7 p.m. at Trinity Reformed United Church of Christ in Conover. For more information call Nancy Truitt at 704-735-9537.by Diane Turbyfill

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