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Seabreeze Harmony Chorus
By Annette Langenstein, Staff Writer 
Published in the April 6, 2016 edition

Gail Elber is the director of Seabreeze Harmony Chorus, the local chapter of the Sweet Adelines International organization. They're an a capella group (no musical accompaniment) that creates music from four different voice parts that beautifully blend into one chord. This type of music is called “barbershop," and though it's a uniquely American art form, it is sung by men and women around the world.

Although the voice parts in women’s barbershop harmony have names like tenor, lead, baritone and bass, the foundation is the same: beautiful music with stunning chords, enjoyable to old and young alike.

Gail has been involved with Seabreeze Harmony Chorus for 7 years, and I asked her why she got involved in this group.

 The ladies of Seabreeze Harmony Chorus.

“It looked like fun,” she replied.  “I had heard them perform, and I had also ordered a singing Valentine…I thought they did a great job!”

The current chorus has been in existence since 2001, and now boasts 15 members.  All kinds of women’s voices are welcome in this group, which practices once a week, every Tuesday at 6:15 pm at the Bay Area Senior Activity Center, 886 South 4th Street, Coos Bay, on (the corner of 4th and Ingersol).

I asked Gail about ages of the women involved in the group. “Old enough to know better,” she replied. “But we have ladies in their 30s through 80s. And people as young as 14 can join, if they can be on their own during our practices.  There’s no experience necessary to join, but it’s very helpful for prospective singers to know how to read music.”

Seabreeze Harmony Chorus does keep its members busy, too. “We perform about once every six weeks on average,” said Gail, “and have done everything from singing the national anthem at a roller derby or the opening of the Little League season, to putting on Christmas concerts every year at Gloria Dei Lutheran church.  And each year we join the Gold Coast Chorus (the male barbershop chorus) at a concert."

In addition to their many performances, both the Seabreeze Harmony Chorus and the Gold Coast Chorus provide Singing Valentines.  Each group has several quartets they send out to perform for a small cost.  This year the ladies even offered “Paddygrams” for St. Patrick’s Day and sang Irish songs either in person or on the phone.

I asked Gail what she enjoys most about belonging to this fun group. “I think it’s the sense of community, the opportunity to learn more about singing,” she replied.  “And Sweet Adelines International has a lot of resources for learning more about singing.  Several times a year we have a coach come work with us, and we have opportunities to go to regional and national events where we learn to become better singers.”

Dues for group members are about $20 a month, and “we’re always doing fund raisers like having a booth at the Blackberry Arts Festival and other events throughout the year,” added Gail.

So how scary is it to perform?  “It wasn’t scary at all for me,” said Gail, “and most of our members have had some other experience like being in a church choir or something.  We don’t have solos, so singing with a chorus tends to be pretty comfortable.”

Any advice for someone who might want to join the Seabreeze Harmony Chorus?  “I would just tell people to come down to the Senior Activity Center on a Tuesday at 6:15 pm and get right up on the risers, sing with us, and have fun!” she replied.

Want to learn more about this great group? Call them at 541-808-1773 or visit seabreezeharmony.org on the web.

“I think people are always looking for something fun to do,” said Gail.  “I would emphasize that the two things that draw people to us are the opportunity to become better singers and have camaraderie with other women.  It’s a very fun group and you make good friends.  I’ve met people I would never have met, and now they’re very dear friends."

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