I’ve been rather obsessed with this young jazz sensation since a few years ago when my music lecturer showed us one of his youtube videos. JC has since continued to create incredibly innovative re-imaginings of classic songs as well as releasing his self-written, recorded and produced album In My Room – which has now got him two Grammys! NO-ONE DESERVES THEM MORE! He’s been touring the world with his one-man show for months now…… definitely on my must-see-live list.
I’ve been a huge fan of this a cappella quintet ever since seeing them win The Sing Off in 2011. They’ve only conquered the ENTIRE WORLD since then and continue to bring a cappella into the mainstream music scene! Their Christmas albums in particular are to die for.
This jazz ensemble has been on my radar for the past year or so ever since their collab with Lalah Hathaway went ‘viral’. I’ve brought myself up to speed with their music by listening pretty obsessively since then and their latest album TOTALLY deserved this Grammy award. Big dream of mine to see them live one day!
As a Sweet Adelines member you can be a member of more than one chorus and at the current time I am a member of:
Greater Auckland chorus (currently on long term leave as I’m overseas)
Christchurch City Chorus (I’ve been an Out of Town member [OOTM] since Jan 2016)
Lions Gate Chorus (I just moved to Vancouver to study)
Let’s just say I kind of like singing barbershop and being involved in this organisation…… just a little bit!
Christchurch City Chorus has been preparing to travel to Las Vegas to represent NZ at the international Sweet Adelines Competition and compete against around 30 odd choruses from around the world (after winning the NZ national competition in 2015).
As an OOTM, I attended coaching weekends on average once a month from January to August (sneakily flew to Canada at the end of August) and then reunited with the ladies in Vegas on October 13th for the contest.
My delightful Mama is also a member so I got to spend the 10 days in Vegas with her! Who could possibly wish for more!
This was my second time at the annual international competition after competing with Greater Auckland Chorus in October of last year (see blog post here).
It was a CRAZY 10 days. Most of us arrived on Thursday 13th and we then spent the next 6 days rehearsing for 5-6 hours a day. It was exhausting but exhilarating! We had our favourite coaches coming in to work with us – Darlene Rogers, Lynne Smith and Lea Beverly, along with short appearances from Ryan Heller, Jim + Renee and other celebrities!
We had a joint show on the Tuesday night with Rönninge Chorus 0our directors have been good friends for many years and this joint concert has become a tradition. We performed our semi-finals and finals packages which was a great test run. It was a real pleasure and, of course, we were all blown away by Rönninge.
Long story short, semifinals day came along, we hit the stage in our green dresses (pictured below – spot me and my mother behind me to the left) and after a NERVE WRACKING announcement of the ten finalists, we were announced as contest #10in the finals! Oh the agony of having to sit through the announcement of the nine other finalists and not knowing if ours would come next…. I don’t know if I have ever been in such a nervous state IN.MY.LIFE.
Friday was spent rehearsing for the finals and Saturday was another early morning to do our make-up, have breakfast, get our hair styled, warm-up, rehearse and get back on the stage! We were so pumped to get out there and perform the package that we’d been preparing for so long. And we nailed it. The reaction from the crowd was amazing. It was over so quickly and we couldn’t be any prouder of how it went.
Another long story short, we received 5TH PLACE and the MOST ENTERTAINING CHORUS AWARD! Our director Virge put an unspeakable amount of time and effort into conceptualising the finals package and bringing it to life, it was honestly her baby, so it was such a treat for her to be able to go up and receive that award. We were super happy! It was the end of a magical time spent with the amazing ladies of CCC.
I look forward to the next time I have the opportunity to learn, grow, sing and perform with this wonderful group of women. But for the next 6 months I will be singing with the Lions Gate Chorus in Vancouver – I’m so ready to learn from them! xx
**ADVICE for future competitors who will compete at the MGM Grand – the air is VERY DRY. There is air conditioning everywhere (and cigarette smoke near the casinos). We were advised to leave the air conditioning on in our rooms while we were away and turn it off when we get back, and keep it off at night. I went as far as to bring a humidifier with me to leave on 24/7 in our room. Sickness spread through our chorus far and wide unfortunately, I managed to avoid it myself ONLY JUST – by non-stop hydrating, taking multitudes of vitamins, washing my hands a lot, trying to still eat fruit and vegetables over the 10 days, and just generally looking after myself very carefully. Unfortunately a number of our chorus were struck down with a terrible flu. Some disturbingly effective steroids of some kind allowed them to still get on stage with us. Most important thing: look after yourself and keep those vocal cords MOIST!
You are now looking at the Under-25 women’s barbershop quartet ranked 3rd in the WORLD and 2nd in the Pan Pacific Region!!!!
Since competing at the national competition in Wellington in April we have been rehearsing and performing like crazy people to get ourselves up to scratch. With coaching from some barbershop greats like the magnificent Carole Persinger, Lori Lyford and Kim Vaughn, we transformed our ballad and added some sparkle to the showmanship plan for our uptune.
In the weeks leading up to the big day, we had an intense performance schedule lined up including a trip to Nelson in early July where we performed at a number of schools promoting the Young Women in Harmony organisation. We really wanted to work on overcoming our nerves and all the performance experience was the perfect way to achieve this. It also kept our vocal cords nice and warm and stretchy since we were doing so much singing!
The Sweet Adelines Rising Star Contest and Pan Pacific Harmony Festival were held in conjunction with each other at the Aotea Centre in Auckland on July 13-14. We were drawn to go first so had the pleasure of getting up at 4am so we could be fully dressed, hair-styled, made-up and warmed up by our 9am backstage call.
It was all over in a FLASH – and we felt incredibly happy with how we did. We had worked so hard and gave the best performance we could have hoped for. When we got off that stage – WOW, the adrenaline! We were so stoked with how far we’d come since April and our commitment to the performance we’d just done.
We had really high hopes for the contest but knew there was some very strong competition so we were happy with our 3rd placing in Rising Star and 2nd place in the Pan Pacific Festival.
Being part of a quartet is such a special journey. There are always ups and downs but the thrill of performing with your sisters on stage and leaving with the adrenaline running through your veins is addictive. I’m excited to see where our journey continues to take us! x
ZEAL first formed in around April 2015 when I finally joined the Greater Auckland Chorus (a Sweet Adelines women’s barbershop group) after having already lived in Auckland for TWO YEARS! I met two lovely young gals at GAC who were looking for a fourth member of their quartet. It was almost like fate as I was crossing my fingers that I would be able to get myself into a quartet since I had always dreamed of doing this….. so just like that things were off to a great start.
Our first ever performance was at the Auckland regional Young Women in Harmony competition, held at Macleans College in June. I was unbelievably nervous, which was unusual since I’m used to performing solo but I think something about singing tenor in a quartet is quite exposing! But, I got through it and I was PROUD!
We spent most of last year getting a couple of contest songs together as preparation for the national Sweet Adelines competition which just took place – we’re all students so we have to work around each others schedules to find time to practice but we do what we can.
I was back home to Nelson for the summer but when I returned in February 2016 it was full steam ahead with only 8 or 9 weeks lead up to contest. We did a test run of our contest package at a chorus performance 10 days before competition, it went alright but we were definitely getting ready to put our BEST ever performance onto that stage.
On the afternoon of the 29th April, we hit the stage of the Michael Fowler Centre. To say we were nervous was an understatement but we went out there and we held it together! Our ballad was the lovely ‘At Last’ and we sang popular uptune ‘Driving Me Crazy’.
In terms of the results of the competition, we had absolutely zero expectations – we just wanted to do the best performance we could and to be able to say that we gave it 100%. Suffice to say, we were extraordinarily shocked and thrilled when we received 3rd place and the Novice Quartet award (for the best first time competitor)!
It was such an amazing weekend and the support we received from our fellow chorus members, quartet competitors, and Sweet Adelines was utterly astounding.
And now we prepare to compete in the International Rising Star Youth Quartet Contest…. bring it on! xx