Confessions of a Competitive Barbershop Singer
Growing up, I was embarrassed to be a part of this quirky family tradition. But the truth is, I love it.
Photo courtesy Read Photography | Edited by Lilly Dancyger
I’m lined up with my fellow barbershop quartet members, including my mom and my aunt, along the ramp leading to the competition stage. We’re waiting for the announcer to call our name, laughing anxiously about nothing in particular. “This is going to be fun!” we say, and we try to mean it.
My quartet, Anticipation, is competing in the Pacific Shores Region 12 female barbershop contest, against 23 other groups at the Nugget Casino Resort in Reno, Nevada. It’s our fourth competition together. You’d think we’d be used to this by now.
I hydrated relentlessly backstage, but suddenly my throat feels parched – and as I realize there’s no water nearby, panic sets in like a fog. What if I can’t hold my high hanger at the end of the uptune? What if my voice cracks in the low chorus? I picture myself on stage, making a mistake in excruciating slow-motion, undoing months of work as the judges scribble furiously, angrily, on their score sheet…