Fathers and Sons Find Strong Bond in Barbershop Harmony

KENOSHA, Wis., June 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — When nine-year-old Ian Baker gets stage fright, he just glances at the grown men around him and is instantly reassured.

One of those men is David Baker, his father. Father and son are members of the all-male Spirit of Phoenix chorus, one of 800-plus choruses that comprise the Barbershop Harmony Society.

“For Ian, it’s fun one-on-one time with his dad and the dozens of self- appointed uncles and grandpas in the chorus,” said David.

Ian also hangs out with 10-year-old Joe, son of Eric Bjornsen, another chorus member.

“Barbershop singing is a great opportunity to share so much with my son,” said Eric.

Bob Fogle, Sr., is a 50-year member of the Chorus of the Chesapeake in Dundalk, Maryland. His father was a charter member. Now Bob, Jr. belongs. So do 10 other father-son teams.

“We will feature a father-son piece in our performance at the upcoming international competition,” said Bob, Sr. “We are performing Auld Lang Syne with a very emotional section featuring all the fathers and their sons.”

That international competition — an annual event that draws the best choruses and quartets from across the globe — is the pinnacle of barbershop harmony events. This year it will be held in Denver July 3-8. All 11 father- son teams in the Chorus of the Chesapeake will be on stage.

Blended families also find their place in barbershop circles. Alan Gordon of the Bay Area Chorus will compete in July’s contest against his stepson Graham Pence of Westminster Chorus; both groups are in California.

“I joined a barbershop chapter at age 10 with my own father,” said Alan. “Graham’s mother and I started dating at the time he was visiting our chapter and auditioning. Oddly enough, I was his auditioner, and it took him a few tries to get past me!”

Barbershop may offer much to father-son teams, but these combinations also add much to the barbershop world. Ken Keever of the West Town Chorus in the Chicago area believes that father-son teams bring commitment to a chorus.

“Usually, fathers and sons have a strong desire to stay in the chorus,” he explained. “They know they will see each other weekly at the rehearsals and they just want to keep coming back.”

Often dads are anxious to share barbershop with their sons in the hopes that they will join in. But, for Eddie Cazenas of the Four Aces quartet in Alexandria, Virginia, the reverse was true. Eddie joined the Alexandria Harmonizers chorus at age 15 and later urged his father to join.

“Barbershop rehearsals gave my father and me a set time to be together,” said Eddie. “When he moved some distance away, it became our time to connect. I could count on that and so could he.”

George and Mike Davidson of NeXus quartet in Colorado will be competing in their home territory in July. They are members of the Denver Mile High Chapter. George started “hauling” Mike to chapter meetings at age six, and Mike joined at age nine.

Mike says, “I am so blessed to have had all the time I’ve had with my father. With him recently losing his father, our time together feels even more special.” “It has been wonderful to see Mike want to participate in my lifestyle and to make it his own,” said George. “As a result, he is both a son and a friend.”

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Source: Barbershop Harmony Society