The Sound of Tennessee, a Cleveland-based, men’s a cappella chorus, earned an invitation to the International Championship of Barbershop Music, marking the first time the group has attended the …
The Sound of Tennessee, a Cleveland-based, men’s a cappella chorus, earned an invitation to the International Championship of Barbershop Music, marking the first time the group has attended the prestigious competition as a representation of Cleveland.
The group is celebrating its 20-year anniversary in 2019. Directors Chad and Brandon Guyton are ecstatic to be marking the anniversary by going to this competition for the first time.
“We started this chorus when we were still attending Lee University,” Brandon stated. “We want to be a world-class musical organization, and Cleveland has such a great history of music. We’ve seen the art scene outside of Lee University start to flourish.”
Many of the group’s members aren’t music majors, musical performers and some can’t read music; however, they still came together to effectively form a men’s singing organization through their mutual love of music.
While it’s based in Cleveland with most members being local, Sound of Tennessee has several members from Knoxville, North Georgia and Chattanooga. Ages range between 11 into the 80s.
The group is a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, the world’s largest organized singing organization founded in 1938. Despite being a member, the group doesn’t sing barbershop music exclusively, and will delve into gospel and choral pieces as well.
Brandon said this only goes to show how barbershop quartet music has spread all over the world, having expanded from its humble roots in America.
“It’s only one of about five or six truly American musical art forms. It was started in the South in the late 1800s, and included alongside jazz, rock n’ roll, gospel and hip-hop,” Brandon said.
The International Championship of Barbershop Music is held in Salt Lake City, Utah, this year. Barbershop is divided into different districts of the world for the competition. Tennessee falls into what’s called the “Dixie District.” As part of the district, there are regional competitions groups must surpass first, which Sound of Tennessee has won many times. If placed high enough, a group gets the opportunity to attend the International Competition in July.
This year’s competition takes place from July 2 through 6, with Sound of Tennessee performing on July 5. With thousands of groups competing in regional competitions to earn a spot in the international event, only around 28 groups make it. This will be the first time Cleveland is represented in this competition.
Since it’s their first time, Brandon said he isn’t sure exactly what to expect, but knows they’ll be performing in front of 7,000 to 10,000 people.
“We’re a smaller chorus with around 30 guys. We hope to grow, but some of the groups we’re competing against have around 100 members,” Brandon said.
Numerous choruses will be there who’ve attended the international competition many times; however, Brandon expects Sound of Tennessee to perform within the upper half of the groups, if not top 10.
Sound of Tennessee president Jim Veenstra said one of the most challenging aspects of competition isn’t performing, but waiting to hear whether their group has been chosen as one of the elite 28 to advance to internationals.
Veenstra added the talent existing within the group is enough to put Cleveland on the map.
In addition to competitions, Sound of Tennessee is highly involved in the community throughout the year, performing at a variety of events at venues like the Museum Center at 5ive Points or public library. Brandon explained they try to strive for at least two events per year.
To raise funds for the upcoming international competition, the group is hosting two different fundraiser events. One is a golf tournament and another is a dinner concert.
The golf tournament takes place on Saturday, May 18, at the Chatata Valley Golf Course, and the dinner concert called “An A Capella Affair” is set for Friday, May 31, at the Museum Center at 7 p.m.
Tickets for "An A Cappella Affair" cost $25 and can be purchased at the door or online at www.soundofTN.org.
“These will be great and fun events that’ll serve to help our guys pay for this trip to Salt Lake City,” Brandon said. “We’re also going to auction off several items as well.”
For more information about either event, contact Chad Guyton at 423-303-8287, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or the group overall at email@example.com.
Sound of Tennessee can be followed on its Facebook page called “Sound of Tennessee Chorus” or through its website.
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