Sweet Adelines share bond of music, friendship
HUNTINGTON -- The members of River Magic Chorus Sweet Adelines share a common love for singing tunes and ballads in a four-part harmony, a cappella, barbershop-style.
While they may be well-known in the Tri-State, not many people understand the inseparable bond that unifies them -- friendship. They live and love together through being present in each other's lives.
These lively women dazzle in their sparkly sequined outfits while singing pleasant music in perfect unison. They uplift listeners, whether it be through mending a broken heart on Valentine's Day or inspiring citizens to be patriotic on the Fourth of July.
Pat Quackenbush, a 31-year member of the chorus, first heard of the Sweet Adelines many years ago at a concert with her children. Even then, she experienced a revelation through the emotions that were evoked from the music.
"It was like I had died and gone to heaven," she said.
Quackenbush felt overjoyed when her fellow members named her "Sweet Adeline of the Year, 2012." She considers these women to be a "big family," and looks forward to seeing them at 7 p.m. every Tuesday evening at rehearsals. The rehearsals promote vitality as well as rejuvenation.
Carol Berry, the chorus contact and Sweet Adelines member since 2003, had an experience similar to that of Quackenbush. Berry's first experience with the chorus was when she attended their Fourth of July concert almost nine years ago. She enjoyed her experience and wanted to join the chorus, but she did not feel confident in her singing abilities. Fortunately, to her advantage, the Sweet Adelines welcomed her into the group. She, like Quackenbush, can relate to the familial relationship that the women share.
"They are almost like sisters," Berry said. They are "a wonderful group of women," and she "thinks highly of all the chorus members."
Stephanie Gray, the chorus' only charter member, has seen the chorus grow in size since its humble beginnings. Gray said that the chorus began in 1976, but did not receive a charter until a year later on Nov. 22, 1977. Gray, like many of the other members, derive great satisfaction from being members. "It has been the best investment I've ever made," she said.
Quackenbush is aware of an important aspect that distinguishes the chorus from others. Quackenbush believes that the chorus is very diverse, because it is comprised of individuals from "all walks of life." She said that there are members from a range of professions, some of which include teachers, nurses, lawyers and secretaries. Mary Madsen, public relations/marketing manager, said that 35 chorus members come from all over the Tri-State, which she believes helps contribute to the chorus's uniqueness. Madsen said that members are from Huntington, Charleston, Hurricane, Ashland, Ironton, Chesapeake and South Point. Their differences have helped bring them together.
The management team for 2012 is comprised of the following members: Carol Berry, chorus contact, Cathy Lawson, communications manager, Cathy Brammer, membership manager, Debbie Yeager, team manager, Mary Madsen, public relations/marketing manager and Loretta Steele, finance manager. Beverly Miller is the director for this year.
The chorus has received great success this past year. On April 21, they were awarded "Most Improved Chorus" in Region 4 (West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana) at a contest in Covington, Ky. According to Sharon Nicholas, a 10-year member, the group improved by 66 points in a competition of approximately 17 choruses. They are expected to perform their annual show on Sept. 22, at the Renaissance Center.
Both Nicholas and Madsen find enjoyment in being a member of the chorus. Nicholas has seen friendships form and said, "Everyone enjoys each other." Madsen considers the experience to be about "personal enrichment, fun and friendship."
The experience is also therapeutic as well.
"It is the best form of therapy," Gray said.
The chorus is always looking for new members. Madsen said that they are "very welcoming." For those interested in joining, Quakenbush said that they should be able to carry a tune. However, she said, "No music training is required." They are simply looking for individuals who love music and share in their mission to "harmonize the world."
Rehearsal meetings are held at 7 p.m. every Tuesday evening at the Renaissance Center, 900 8th St. For additional information, contact Mary Madsen by phone at 304-525-8319, or go online at rivermagicchorus.org.