The Bad News Bears of Barbershop: River Oaks Chorus

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting but it sure was not septuagenarians singing and dancing off the stage to The Sound of Music’s “So Long, Farewell.”

Tuesday night I attended a rehearsal for River Oaks Chorus and, while I grew up singing in chamber choirs and a cappella groups and have even performed by myself in a few showcases, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. I found their rehearsal on MeetUp.com and didn’t look too closely at the post. Word to the wise: Read EVERY part of a meetup.com post if you want to avoid surprises.

The River Oaks Chorus, a chapter of Sweet Adelines International and the winners of last year’s the “most improved” award, is a living, breathing, show choir complete with “choralography” and costumes. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting but it sure was not septuagenarians singing and dancing off the stage to The Sound of Music’s “So Long, Farewell.” I didn’t know what to think or what to say but I knew that I had stumbled on to something…special. I thought about turning around and walking right out but it was too late, they had seen me. At 25, I was by far the youngest person by give or take five decades, but I was immediately greeted like a long lost grandchild and given cookies and warm greetings.

They were preparing for their big competition in Bakersfield and, for the first half of the rehearsal, I watched from the audience as they performed: “In My Life,” “California Dreaming,” “Aquarius,” and “Fame.” Despite their dated repertoire and goofy dancing, their harmonies were spot on. These ladies were actually really talented! I was then asked to join them and jumped right in on stage trying my best to keep up with their harmonies as I clumsily mimicked their dance moves.

While these ladies were so sweet and vocally talented, I just can’t bring myself to don their purple sequins and jazz hands. I wish them all the best of luck at their competition! They are all so kind and so brave.

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