The Wade Hampton Singers (high school) of Greenville, SC qualified for, and traveled to, the recent BHS Midwinter Convention NextGen Music Festival in Jacksonville, FL. There, they performed a 3-song Beatles set and were judged “Outstanding” by the judges’ panel. Those in attendance will agree that they did an outstanding job.
This was the high school group’s first visit to a BHS convention, but not their first experience with Barbershop Harmony thanks to the Upstate South Carolina Chapter’s Palmetto Statesmen. Chapter member Don Campbell (Dean of the BHS Directors College) had spent several years encouraging the school’s choral director, Ms. Amy Moyer, to attend Harmony University-Directors College. Ms. Moyer was able to attend the College in July 2019 and, upon her return to Greenville, she contacted Chapter President Larry Gilhousen to learn more about the artform.
As you can imagine, President Larry was thrilled to hear from Ms. Moyer and set in motion a series of school visits, a Youth in Harmony Workshop to improve the Singers’ performance, and a Show to raise money for the Singers’ Jacksonville trip. All the work resulted in a tremendous improvement in the Wade Hampton Singers’ performance and a $2,250 donation to their music program. A large portion of the donation was from the Chapter’s Youth in Harmony Fund that was established by the retired Chord Street Boys quartet, and donations from chapter members and Ms. Melissa Martin of Quadrophonic.
This successful YIH Outreach did not just happen. Members of the Upstate Chapter have been building relationships with area choral directors for the past several years and in 2016 sponsored another high school choral director, Ms. Jessica Rash, to Harmony College. When Ms. Rash returned, she worked with Larry to set up a Youth in Harmony Workshop and Show for her Byrnes Singers. That event raised $2,000 for the Byrnes High School music program. It also resulted is several of her male singers visiting Chapter meetings.
Each of the above YIH Workshops were conducted by NSC District YIH VP Bill Adams and “clinician” quartets. The clinician quartets were Speed of Sound (SA champs) and Let’s Sing! (District champs) in 2017 and mixed quartet Quadrophonic in December 2019. Dr. Adam’s and some of the clinician quartet fees were offset by grants from the NSC District YIH Fund and the Upstate Chapter is very grateful for that support.
The successful formula we use is 1) Build relationships with school choral directors; 2) Deliver a complimentary Singing Valentine to a choral director or other teacher in a high school; 3) Sponsor a choral director to Harmony College-Directors College; 4) Attend or volunteer at school music events; 5) Set up a Youth in Harmony Workshop for a school’s singers; 6) Make a donation to a school’s music program. Perseverance and generosity are important ingredients for success!