The Barbershop Harmony Society, legally and historically named the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. (SPEBSQSA), is the first of several organizations to promote and preserve barbershop music as an art form. Founded by Owen C. Cash and Rupert I. Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1938, the organization quickly grew, promoting barbershop harmony among men of all ages. As of 2014, just under 23,000 men in the United States and Canada were members of this organization whose focus is on a cappella music. The international headquarters was in Kenosha, Wisconsin for fifty years before moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 2007.
A parallel women's singing organization, Sweet Adelines International (SAI) was founded in 1945. A second women's barbershop harmony organization, Harmony, Inc., broke from SAI in 1959 over an issue of racial exclusion, with SAI (like SPEBSQSA and many other organizations) being white-only at that time; SPEBSQSA officially lifted the requirement in 1963. Several international affiliate organizations, in countries around the world, add their own flavor to the signature sound of barbershop harmony.
The original name SPEBSQSA was intended as a lampoon on Roosevelt's New Deal alphabet agencies. Because of the name's length and the difficult-to-pronounce acronym, society staff and members often refer to SPEBSQSA as The Society. For decades, SPEBSQSA was the official name, while the Barbershop Harmony Society was an officially recognized and sanctioned alternate. Members were encouraged to use the alternate name, because it was felt that the official name was an in-joke that did not resonate outside the Society. In mid-2004, faced with declining membership, the Society adopted a marketing plan that called for using "Barbershop Harmony Society" consistently and retaining the old name for certain legal purposes.
The old official name spelled "barber shop" as two words, while barbershop is generally used elsewhere.
In reference to the acronym SPEBSQSA, The Society has said "attempts to pronounce the name are discouraged". Unofficially, it is sometimes pronounced as if it were spelled "Spebsqua".
In late 2004, the Society established Barbershop Harmony Society as its new "brand name", with a logo and identity program released in 2005. Although the legal name remained SPEBSQSA, Inc., the decision was controversial, as many members felt that the new name did not reflect a mission of preservation and encouragement of the style. Many members were concerned that the term "quartet" had been dropped, fearing a movement in the direction of choral singing and downplaying quartet singing.
A key aspect of the Society's mission is in the preservation of barbershop music. To this end, it maintains the Old Songs Library. Holding over 100,000 titles (750,000 sheets) this is the largest sheet music collection in the world excepting only the Library of Congress.
The "Barberpole Cat Program" is a collection of 12 songs (commonly known as "polecats") that are considered standard repertoire for every barbershopper ("Let Me Call You Sweetheart", "My Wild Irish Rose", etc.) Every member receives a booklet upon joining the society. The purpose of this collection is so that whenever any barbershoppers meet they will always have something ready to sing. The society has also published collections such as Strictly Barbershop.
Harmony Foundation International, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, was incorporated in 1959 as a charitable subsidiary of the Barbershop Harmony Society; it raises financial support for the society's programs.
Current headquarters in Nashville
Coordinates: 36°9?36?N 86°46?52?W / 36.16000°N 86.78111°W In 2003, in preparation for a new headquarters location, the Society sold both Harmony Hall, a historic lakefront mansion in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and its nearby facility (known as Harmony Hall West) located in a strip mall which the Society purchased in 1976 and renovated. HHW had housed finance, merchandising, IT and membership. Operations and staff from both buildings were consolidated into a remodeled HHW.
In 2006 the Society announced plans to move its headquarters to Nashville, Tennessee. In August 2007, the Society completed the relocation to 110 Seventh Avenue North, in Nashville.
To promote and improve barbershop singing, the society annually runs international and district-level contests for choruses and quartets.
When a quartet wins the international gold medal, they are considered champions forever and may not compete again. A chorus that wins the gold, however, must sit out of competition for only two years and thus may compete for the gold medal again in the third year following their win.
International quartet champions
- Main Street are the 2017 champions.
- Musical Island Boys, the 2014 champions from New Zealand, are also the 2006 collegiate champions.
- Ringmasters, the 2012 champions and 2008 collegiate champions, are from Sweden. They were the first quartet from outside of North America to win.
- Old School, the 2011 champions, reunited multiple-time winners Kipp Buckner and Joe Connelly from the 1987 champions Interstate Rivals.
- OC Times, 2008 champions.
- Vocal Spectrum, the 2006 champions were previously the 2004 collegiate champions.
- Realtime, in 2005 became the first truly international champions, with members from three nations.
- Bluegrass Student Union, the 1978 champions, had a 33-year career ending in 2006; they produced innovative recordings still available.
- Happiness Emporium, 1975 champions, remained active through October 2013.
- The Suntones, 1961 champions, were regularly seen on The Jackie Gleason Show.
- The Buffalo Bills, 1950 champions were widely known, as they appeared in stage and screen productions of The Music Man and frequently appeared on Arthur Godfrey's radio show.
- The Vocal Majority, based in Dallas, TX, twelve-time International Chorus Champions (1975, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2014). The chorus with the most international gold medals, ten of which were in succession (each time the chorus was eligible to compete) until 2009.
- The Ambassadors of Harmony, based in St. Charles, MO, International Chorus Champions in 2004, 2009, 2012 and 2016. Their 2009 championship interrupted the Vocal Majority's streak at 10 consecutive championships.
- The Masters of Harmony, nine-time International Chorus Champions (1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2017).
- The Westminster Chorus, a youth barbershop chorus in California started by young members of the Masters of Harmony, International Champion in 2007, 2010, and 2015.
- The Louisville Thoroughbreds Chorus, the first 7-time International Champion chorus of the Barbershop Harmony Society, winning the Gold Medal in 1962, 1966, 1969, 1974, 1978, 1981 and 1984.
For purposes of administration (particularly of local education and contests), the society is organized into 17 geographical districts as follows. (Chapters as of 10 Nov 2017)
- Cardinal District - most of Kentucky, Indiana: 21 chapters
- Carolinas District - North Carolina, most of South Carolina, far eastern Georgia: 25 chapters
- Central States District - Missouri, Iowa, most of Kansas, eastern Nebraska, eastern South Dakota, northwestern Arkansas: 52 chapters
- Dixie District - Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, most of Georgia, west central South Carolina: 22 chapters
- Evergreen District - Washington, Oregon, Alaska, western Idaho, most of Montana, Alberta, British Columbia: 52 chapters
- Far Western District - California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, southwestern Utah: 68 chapters
- Illinois District - Illinois: 28 chapters
- Johnny Appleseed District - Ohio; western West Virginia; southwestern Pennsylvania; far northeastern Kentucky: 46 chapters
- Land O' Lakes District - Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, northwestern Michigan, western Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan: 48 chapters
- Mid-Atlantic District - Virginia, Maryland, eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, D.C., eastern West Virginia, southeastern New York: 88 chapters
- Northeastern District - northeastern New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec: 46 chapters
- Ontario District - most of Ontario: 30 chapters
- Pioneer District - most of Michigan, plus Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor, Ontario: 28 chapters. It became the first organized district of the society on June 8, 1940 and the first International District in March 1944.
- Rocky Mountain District - Colorado, Wyoming, most of New Mexico, most of Utah, eastern Idaho, northwestern Kansas, southeastern Montana, western Nebraska, western South Dakota: 32 chapters
- Seneca Land District - western New York, northwestern Pennsylvania: 27 chapters
- SouthWestern District - Texas; Louisiana; most of Arkansas; Oklahoma; southeastern New Mexico: 40 chapters
- Sunshine District - Florida: 36 chapters
- ^ "2015 Annual Report" (PDF). Barbershop Harmony Society. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Hicks, Val J. (1988), Heritage of Harmony New Past Press, ISBN 0-938627-04-X, p. 14
- ^ Averill, Gage (2003), Four Parts: No Waiting, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-511672-0, p. 132: "Sweet Adelines had no black members, and no one was aware of any black singers who had petitioned to join the organization. Still, the board argued that there had always been tacit agreement about racial exclusion and it was time to formalize this policy...."
- ^ Gadkar-Wilcox, Wynn (March 2015). "Article understated the extent of past racism" (PDF). The Harmonizer. p. 4. Retrieved 2016.
exclusion of African-Americans from Society--officially until 1963
- ^ "Preserving an art form: the Barbershop Harmony Society". Barbershop Harmony Society. November 28, 2006. Archived from the original on April 7, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
- ^ Stebbins, Robert (1996). The Barbershop Singer: Inside the Social World of a Musical Hobby. University of Toronto Press. pp. 23-37, 117. ISBN 3-540-63293-X.
- ^ Boudette, Neal E. (July 2, 2007). "Quartets Contend With Disharmony In the Barbershop". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ "Barberpole Cat Program Learn the Common Repertoire of 12 Songs Every Barbershopper Should Know". Nashville, Tennessee: Barbershop Harmony Society. February 14, 2006. Archived from the original on March 21, 2011.
- ^ "Harmony Foundation, International, Inc". Harmony Foundation. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ "Remembering historic Harmony Hall Archived October 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.". Barbershop Harmony Society. November 28, 2006. Retrieved on May 19, 2007.
- ^ "Barbershop Harmony Society to seek HQ site in Nashville" Archived June 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.. Barbershop Harmony Society. January 20, 2006. Retrieved on May 19, 2007.
- ^ "Official Scoring Summary, BHS, International, Quartet Finals, Las Vegas, Nevada, July 5, 2014" (PDF). Barbershop Harmony Society. July 5, 2014. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ "Official Scoring Summary, BHS, MBNA America Collegiate Barbershop Quartet Contest International, Quartet Finals, Indianapolis, Indiana" (PDF). Barbershop Harmony Society. July 8, 2006. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "Official Scoring Summary, BHS, Bank of America Collegiate Barbershop Quartet Contest International, Quartet Finals Collegiate, Nashville, Tennessee" (PDF). July 5, 2008. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "Ringmasters makes history". Association of International Champions. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "Official Scoring Summary, BHS, International Quartet and Chorus Convention International, Quartet Finals, Nashville, Tennessee" (PDF). July 5, 2008. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "2005-Realtime". Association of International Champions. June 28, 2011. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "1961-Suntones". Association of International Champions. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "The Seventeen Districts of The Barbershop Harmony Society" (PDF). Barbershop Harmony Society. July 1, 2010. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ "Home - The Cardinal District". The Cardinal District.
- ^ "Carolinas District of the Barbershop Harmony Society (SPEBSQSA)". Carolinas District of the Barbershop Harmony Society (SPEBSQSA).
- ^ "CSD HOME". centralstatesdistrict.com.
- ^ "Home". dixiedistrict.org.
- ^ "Evergreen District". evgsings.org. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ "Far Western District - Home". farwesterndistrict.org.
- ^ "The Illinois District of the Barbershop Harmony Society: A state of close harmony!". harmonize.ws.
- ^ "Johnny Appleseed District". Johnny Appleseed District.
- ^ "Land O' Lakes District of the Barbershop Harmony Society". loldistrict.org.
- ^ "Mid-Atlantic District". midatlanticdistrict.com. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ "Northeastern District - Barbershop Harmony Society". Northeastern District of BHS.
- ^ "Ontario District of the Barbershop Harmony Society - The largest Canadian male a cappella singing organization". ontariodistrict.com.
- ^ "Pioneer District, Barbershop Harmony Society". pioneerdistrict.org.
- ^ "Rocky Mountain District". rmdsing.org. Retrieved 2017.
- ^ Jay Holman. "Seneca Land District of the Barbershop Harmony Society - Home Page". senecaland.org.
- ^ "The Southwestern District of the Barbershop Harmony Society". swd.org.
- ^ "Sunshine District". Sunshine District.
- ^ "British Association of Barbershop Singers". www.singbarbershop.com. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "Barbershop Harmony Australia". www.barbershop.org.au. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "Barbershop Harmony New Zealand". barbershopharmony.nz. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "News - BinG! Barbershop in Germany". www.barbershop.de. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "HOLLAND HARMONY". www.hollandharmony.dse.nl. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "Finnish Association of Barbershop Singers ry". www.fabs.fi. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "Irish Association of Barbershop Singers". Irish Association of Barbershop Singers. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "SABS - Spanish Association of Barbershop Singers". www.sabs.es. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "SNOBS - The Society Of Nordic Barbershop Singers". www.snobs.org. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "SPATS Southern Part of Africa Tonsorial Singers". www.spats.co.za. Retrieved 2016.