Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back from Summer Music Camp, PHH is sharing some pix and then taking July 3 off

Hey, everyone!

Just a disclaimer to begin with: I'm posting some of the same things on our multiple blog sites, trying to make PHH news available to people all across North Louisiana. Even so, please do keep checking the various sites; sometimes I post different things in different venues. And please let folks know that you like what you see and read on The News-Star and The Times blogs by either commenting on or recommending the blog/post.

As noted earlier, a large contingent from our chorus attended regional Summer Music Camp at Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas, last weekend. We have 35 members, and 11 of those plus one prospective member made the journey.

They reported back to our chorus Thursday that (sorry for the cliche') a good time was had by all. Subsequent posts will include comments about what they learned while at the camp.

Sweet Adelines from five states attended, and faculty members included international quartet and chorus champions. More about that below.

PHH members who attended were Faith Cooper, Donna Fike, Sharon Hernandez, Kathy Hightower, Charles Etta Johnson, Caroline Leung, Wanda McKaskle, Carol Ogle, Lea Rutherford, Judy Sisson and Teresa White. And Alice Baggett, our wonderful prospective member, also made the jaunt.

We'll post some photos below, but also wanted you to know (if case you were thinking of visiting us!), that we'wre taking July 3 off in honor of the July Fourth holiday. We'll be back in the saddle, or rather in the rehearsal hall, on Thursday, July 10. Why not come visit? We had another prospective member visit this past Thursday. Grab hold and catch the (sound) wave!!!

And here's the gang (from left): Caroline, Sharon, Lea, Kathy, Charles Etta, Faith, Wanda, Judy, Teresa Donna and Carol. Guess Alice is taking the pic?

Aha! Here's Alice in the foreground. Other members (front row) Judy, Lea and Donna; (back row) Charles Etta Wanda, Faith, Sharon and Kathy.

Sweet Harmony quartet, formed from four Piney Hills Harmony members, gets coaching from an international Queen of Harmony quartet champion, Judy Baxter of Rumors and Rich-Tones fame.

Our newest members found out how fun it is to sing in a really large chorus, which is part of the excitement each year at Summer Music Camp. On the last night of camp, vocalists from choruses throughout five states perform together after having rehearsed several hours during the weekend. Here, you can see they're really exhibiting some of the showmanship concepts that they've learned. :-D If you look REALLY closely, you can find Sharon on the front row!

Nothing like a teenager literally rubbing elbows with an international quartet champion and one of Region 25's premier directors -- Debbie Hogan. Piney Hills Harmony's youngest member, Faith Cooper (2nd from left) joins Debbie and others in an informal singing group during some of the (alleged) down time over the weekend.

More on SMC and other great things from Piney Hills Harmony and Sweet Adelines to come .......... Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

PHH attends Summer Music Camp; June 19 rehearsal canceled

Twelve members of Piney Hills Harmony chorus -- and one prospective member (yea!) -- are all set to attend regional Summer Music Camp.

As a result, this week's chorus rehearsal on June 19 is canceled. Regular rehearsals will resume next week on June 26. If you're someone who loves to sing, why don't you come check us out then? We'll be all energized and excited after the annual SMC, as we affectionately call it.

(PHH members in the photo above pause between sessions during the '07 SMC. Don't Jennifer, JudySis, Sheila, Lea and Jean look happy and well-educated???)

A few words of explanation about Summer Music Camp: The "camp" is actually more like a continuing education experience on a college campus. No tents and campfires; no bunk beds and cabins. Region 25's SMC will be held at Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas, from Thursday through Sunday, June 19-21. (Yeah, well, OK, there will be dorms involved.)

The theme is "Road Map to Success," a part of this year's regional "Pedal to the Metal" theme. Appropriately, campers will learn the song "Drive My Car" -- yes, as you undoubtedly recall, first made popular by the Beatles. Isn't that fun?!?!

Class choices include Choreography Staging, Breath Art, Scriptwriting, Emceeing, Costuming, Arranging, Beginning and Advanced Music Theory, Kinesthetics, Elegant Diction, Emotion and Locomotion, The Creative Process, Dynamics: Do You Hear What I Hear? and many more.

Vickie Dennis, master director of the award-winning Houston Horizon chorus, will be the special guest faculty member this year. Along with Vickie, our very talented Region 25 Faculty will be camp facilitators. And lest you think we throw the word "talented" around loosely, consider:

* The current Sweet Adeline International president is from our region and on the faculty -- Peggy Gram from Top of the Rock chorus in Little Rock.

* Peggy, along with multiple other regional music staffers, is what we term a Queen of Harmony -- she has sung in a 1st-place international quartet.

* Region 25 includes the Rich-Tone chorus from Richardson, Texas, four-time international champs.

* One of our smaller choruses, Queen City Sound from Springfield, Mo., is one of five choruses worldwide that will compete this year at the Sweet Adelines' International Educational Symposium.

* And in 2007, our region had five competitors at the international convention: Top of the Rock chorus and quartets Cabaret, Kismet and Rendition. Keep in mind that almost 30,000 women claim Sweet Adeline membership across the globe.

So, with the folks mentioned above and other great leaders as faculty members, such gatherings as Region 25's SMC provide a wonderful way to absorb a lot of musical knowledge and wisdom.

We're a friendly lot (see pic @ left, also at the '07 SMC). At Piney Hills Harmony, we'll welcome you with open arms (or hugs!). We are not professional singers, but homemakers, teachers, secretaries, computer technologists, nurses, librarians, journalists and much more. We come together one night a week to share in the joy of singing with friends. And, truly, the friends you will make in the chorus are friends you'll have for life.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hey, all you non-Sweet Adelines: You can win $1,000 in 'A Cappella Unleashed' on YouTube

You, yes, you can win $1,000 in an a cappella singing competition sponsored by Sweet Adelines International. That is, you can win it if you're not a Sweet Adeline; we're ineligible. So it's up to you, our non-Sweet Adeline friend! Here are the details, straight from the singers' international mouth:
Sweet Adelines International is offering a chance for talented female singers to bring your sing by participating in an international singing competition through during the months of June and July 2008. We know there is singing talent out there that has yet to be discovered. This is your chance to let your voice be heard, so sing it a cappella for a chance to win $1,000.

The contest is simple. Anytime between June 16 and July 18, 2008 go to and view the video, Sweet Adelines International A Cappella Unleashed Singing Contest.

Once you have watched the video and read the contest rules, create a video of five minutes or less, where you are performing your best a cappella song. Given that Sweet Adelines International sings a cappella harmony, barbershop style, your voice must not be accompanied by any other instruments or music.

We are looking for the most entertaining a cappella singing performance that demonstrates creativity and outstanding singing quality. Solo and group a cappella performances will be accepted.

Once your video is complete, post a video reply to the Sweet Adelines International A Cappella Unleashed Singing Contest video and click Upload a Video. Once your video is uploaded include your name, mailing address, phone number, e-mail address and how you heard about the contest. Add any unique information about your video and send the reply. Your reply automatically submits your contest entry to the Sweet Adelines International Web page.

A $1,000 Visa gift card will be awarded to the contestant whose video earns the highest number of views. For detailed information about the contest, eligibility and to read the official contest rules go to

If you have further questions regarding the contest e-mail,
So, friends of PHH, get those vocal cords warmed up and starting putting your video together. If you decide to participate, let us know, and we can put a note in the blog so that local folks can vote for you. And rest assured: We'll vote as much as we can for you as well.

We can also help you put your presentation together; offer vocal tips; help video yourself, if needed; help you load your video to YouTube, etc. Just let us know how we can be of assistance!

Wow, what a neat opportunity!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Piney Hills Harmony has a Shreveport Times blog now, too

Well, we've added another blog to our steadily growing list as we try to let area residents know about one of the best hobbies in the whole wide world. Piney Hills Harmony is now on The Shreveport Times site, The blog is named the same as the one on The News-Star, "Tapestry of Song." But the "pen name" for this one is "pineyhillshrmny" rather than "salroshol." Here is the specific link to the Times blog: click here.

Jerri is going to be our contact person over there, and the PHH Blogger is putting some different info on that site that relates to chorus members who live in that area. One time last night, PHH was on the front page (online) three times simultaneously: with an updated profile, with a blog entry and with a newly posted photo.

If any of you Shreveport-Bossier area residents are reading this, we'd love to have you visit with us to get a taste of the unique, four-part a cappella harmony that we participate in. If you have an affinity for singing -- and if you love harmony -- after you come to the first meeting with us, you may never look back. That's what happened to the PHH Blogger anyway ... in 1989. Wow! We love it!

BTW, we've got an upcoming membership campaign in the works. We call it "Singers Wanted," and this year it will be on three consecutive Thursdays: Aug. 21 & 28 and Sept. 4. Time: 6-8 p.m. Place: fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church of Ruston, 212 N. Bonner. More details to come. We had an extremeley successful "Singers Wanted" program last year and are looking forward to meeting other tremendous attendees this year.

We had our largest rookie crop ever last year. Advanced us to a mid-size chorus rather than small. Hope to build on that this year! Y'all come see us, now -- ya hear!?!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Piney Hills Harmony/Sweet Adelines draw good crowd to Smithsonian series

(Here's something the PHH Blogger posted to our blog on The [Monroe] News-Star site. If you've already read that, you may want to skip down and read some other posts here on that haven't appeared there.)

What a pleasant evening!

Piney Hills Harmony's concert at the Lincoln Parish Library last night was well-attended, and the crowd really seemed to "get into" the music and the history that was presented. A big thank you to all who attended -- and to the library for asking us to be part of this tremendous series.

During the presentation, we took the audience from the beginnings of barbershop four-part a cappella harmony in the 1800s up to today. In the audience, smiles abounded, audience members were swaying and singing softly along with the music, and nods of approval appeared. At least one audience member is now considering joining the chorus -- and we're excited because we're always seeking new members to join in the fun! Singing is so energizing, therapeutic, cathartic, healing, liberating, uniting -- you name it!

The free presentation was part of the library's New Harmonies series that focuses on what is termed "American Roots Music." The series, which stretches across over 20 states, is sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. Local sponsors are the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the GSU history department and Lincoln Parish Library.

Friday night's performance showed that barbershop's distinctive style is an original American art form that has now spread across the globe to 60 countries and is in all 50 states. Its origins trace back to African-American culture. Some characteristics of barbershop are:

* frequent echoes of the harmony parts as they follow the melody (a throw an-back to the African-American call-and-response pattern)

* the rhythmic feeling of percussion that is created through vocals, and

* the tell-tale "blue note," which in barbershop is called a "barbershop seventh chord."

To help preserve this American musical art form, Sweet Adelines International was officially formed in Tulsa, Okla., in 1945, following on the heels of the men's barbershop organization that was formed in 1938, also in Tulsa. We are proud to carry on that tradition.

But let me hasten to point out: We are not only carrying on tradition; we are also blazing new musical trails today. Not only do we sing the standards such as "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Tuxedo Junction" and "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans"; we also sing "We Are Family," "NaNaNa Kiss Her Goodbye" and "Dancin' in the Street." Currently, we are learning "Feet's Too Big" from the musical "Ain't Misbehavin'." Next on our list? Perhaps "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."

Ladies, do you want to have some musical fun? Look up our contact info in my profile, and find how exactly how and where you can start on a new musical journey in your life. This could be the first note of a song that can positively affect the rest of your life.

Caption for above photo: The Piney Hills Harmony ensemble that sang at the Lincoln Parish Library last night performs "NaNaNa Kiss Her Goodbye." Assistant director Sheila Stepp, of Ruston (third from left), is leading the song.

Friday, June 06, 2008

We now have a News-Star blog!


Check out our new blog on the newly revamped Web site of The (Monroe) News-Star.

* Go to

* Look for the "explore" title. It's at the top of a gray box on the right-hand side of the page, down just a little. (At least this is the way it is on my computer; some folks' layouts seem to be a bit different on their machines. Go figure!)

* Click on the icon that looks like a pen and paper.

* Then look for the treble clef icon and the story about women loving to sing. The posts are under the "pen name" salroshol. (Looks kinda funny now, but I think we're stuck with it).

So go take a gander, hit the "recommend" button so we'll look cool, register as a site member yourself, and leave comments -- let's all get involved! :-D



Monday, June 02, 2008

Piney Hills Harmony, Smithsonian meld to show musical history

Piney Hills Harmony chorus and the Lincoln Parish Library are uniting to present a special brand of music with distinct American roots.

The Ruston-based Sweet Adelines chorus will perform at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 6, as part of the library's "New Harmonies" series sponsored by the Smithsonian Museum and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

Free and open to the public, the chorus's hour-long program will be held in the library's main meeting room. A 14-member ensemble from the chorus will provide an entertaining history of barbershop music, told through both scripting and song.

New Harmonies is part of the Smithsonian's Music on Main Street traveling exhibition that seeks to bring to life America's wide-ranging musical history – from the blues and gospel to folk and country-western. Lincoln Parish Library, which received the grant in conjunction with Grambling State University's history department, is one six Louisiana sites on the tour that spans more than 20 states.

The overall exhibit features seven large interactive kiosks from the Smithsonian that offer "something for everyone," library director Vivian McCain said.

Supplementing the kiosk exhibit is a two-month series of lectures, children's activities and musical programs, of which Piney Hills Harmony is a part.

Concerning Piney Hills Harmony's place in the New Harmonies celebration of "American Roots Music," McCain said, "There's no doubt in my mind that barbershop is definitely American … Having a local group as good as (Piney Hills Harmony) to be part of a national exhibition program series is good for the chorus and the community as well. It'll make the entire community proud."

McCain explained that the library will compile a scrapbook that spotlights the chorus's performance, as well as the 14 other local programs being presented during a two-month period. The eventual resting place of the scrapbook -- the Smithsonian Institution.

As a preview to what will be revealed at the concert, consider:

Barbershop harmony developed between 1860 and 1920 and had its roots in African-American culture. Some of the characteristics of barbershop are frequent echoes of the harmony parts as they follow the melody (a throw-back to the African-American call-and-response pattern), the rhythmic feeling of percussion that is created through vocals, and the tell-tale "blue note," which in barbershop is called a "barbershop seventh chord."

In addition an ensemble performance, two quartets from within Piney Hills Harmony will be featured:

• Masquerade – Jennifer Patterson and Sheila Stepp of Ruston; Mary Jo Brister of Quitman; and Wanda McKaskle, of Bernice; and
• Sweet Harmony – Donna Fike, Carol Ogle and Judy Sisson of Monroe; and Lea Rutherford of West Monroe.

Piney Hills Harmony has won first place in its regional Sweet Adeline competition, as well as having claimed two third places. Masquerade placed seventh in this year's regional five-state contest.

More information about New Harmonies can be found at and

Following PHH, the next LPL New Harmonies program is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 12, a showing of the Elvis Presley movie "King Creole."

Masquerade, from left: Sheila Stepp, baritone; Mary Jo Brister, lead; Wanda McKaskle, bass; and Jennifer Patterson, tenor.

Sweet Harmony, from left: Carol Ogle, baritone; Lea Rutherford, lead; Judy Sisson, bass; and Donna Fike, tenor.

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