For Melody Turner, going to choir practice isn't just about singing - it's about connecting with 40 other women who have become her friends.
"The camaraderie is irreplaceable," Turner said of the Grand Olympics Chorus, the peninsula chapter of Sweet Adelines International. "I call (practices) my Monday night therapy."
Founded in Port Angeles in 1979 and moved to Sequim in the early 1990s, the Grand Olympics Chorus has gone from 26 to 41 singers in the past
year, when new director Judie Sharpe joined.
"I was in Sweet Adelines in Michigan," Sharpe said. "I joined Grand Olympics Chorus when I moved here ... these ladies are incredible."
In addition to performing at assisted-living facilities and gearing up to compete in the April 2009 Sweet Adelines regional contest in Spokane, the women have been practicing hard for their upcoming concert "Blue Ribbon Barbershop."
"The theme is a country fair," Sharpe explained. "The first part will be a combination of script and songs, skits interwoven with barbershop songs."
The women, who according to Sharpe will get into the theme by donning denim, will be joined for this part by Olympic Theatre Arts actor Ric Munhall, acting as the fair's barker and the night's emcee, as well as the Olympic Mountain Cloggers, Dungeness Transfer and Strait Harmony, both select groups from the Olympic Peninsula Men's Chorus, formerly the Strait Men Chorus.
For the second part of the show, the women will change into newly acquired sparkly blue outfits and the mood will turn into a more serious concert including "After You're Gone" and "If You Love Me, Really Love Me," both songs they plan on performing at the Sweet Adelines regional contest.
The women said they encourage budding singers to attend a Monday evening practice, which will resume Oct. 13. After attending three rehearsals, potential members can audition for the group, said assistant director Marcia Homer.
"We would love to have more women join, more friends," Homer said.
Sweet Adelines International began in 1945 in Oklahoma - when the country began recovering after World War II and the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. According to the group's Web site, Tulsa resident Edna Mae Anderson gathered a few women who wanted to participate in the type of singing group that their husbands had. By the end of that year, the group, Sweet Adelines International, was formed and had 85 members - within four years there were 1,500 singers in 35 chapters spread out over 14 states.
To this day, peninsula members said Anderson's dream is alive - women gathering, bonding, socializing and producing beautiful harmony.
"It's the best hobby I've ever had," said member Midge Hull.
The Grand Olympics Chorus will be singing at the Veterans Day event in Port Angeles on Nov. 11 and is available for hire. For more information, visit www.GrandOlympicsChrous.org.
'Blue Ribbon Barbershop'
Who: Grand Olympics Chorus of Sweet Adelines International
What: "Blue Ribbon Barbershop," a two-act play in four-part harmony; including guests Olympic Mountain Cloggers, Dungeness Transfer and Strait Harmony
Tickets: $15 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under, available at The Buzz in Sequim, Port Book & News in Port Angeles and Crossroads Music in Port Townsend
Contact: Joan Glinn, 582-0984
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
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