Throughout the year, the Beaufort Harbormasters and the Beaufort Belles perform their own versions of barbershop music. But once a year, they come together to show just how far the music traditionally associated with men in straw hats and striped vests has come throughout the years.
The Harbormasters (the male chorus) and Belles (the female chorus) are performing jointly in their "American Crossroads" concert Saturday at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
The performance is a chance to see nearly 50 barbershoppers -- both male and female -- performing classic barbershop hits and more modern classics in one show.
Beaufort Belle Audrey Bittner and Beaufort Harbormaster Gary Gebhardt explain the appeal of barbershopping.
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Question. What type of music are you singing?
Gary. Most people think of barbershop songs as something our grandparents sang. But it's more than just that. It's become more mainstream. We sing popular music. But we haven't gone to doing rap.
Q. Maybe one day?
Audrey. It'd be difficult to put into four-part harmony.
Gary. I've heard some younger groups try to do that. But we sing some Beatles songs. We sing American standards. Country and Western music has always been in four-part harmony. We'll end the show with a true barbershop song -- "Keep America Singing."
Barbershop can be very unique to hear, especially when you combine the men's and women's voices. What we try to achieve with the different voices is to get them to blend together so well that you hear this ringing sound.
Audrey. It's called an overtone. It's not being sung but you can hear it. Very unique to barbershop singing.
Q. Where did the idea for the join show come from?
Audrey. It provides a good variety. Instead of hearing just one group, it'll be different configurations of the different choruses. There will also be three quartets.
Gary. It'll be a two-hour show but with many different varieties of performance.
Q. Is it difficult to combine the two groups?
Audrey. It is difficult to mesh the voices because, believe it or not, the men's voices are actually higher than the women's, so you have to level out the pitches between the two groups.
Gary. Fortunately, both groups have the same music director (Cliff Kozier). He does the arranging for us.
Q. Is there a rivalry at all?
Gary. Not at all.
Audrey. I wouldn't say so. To begin with, my husband is in the Harbormasters. Personally, I really enjoy the sound of the two groups. It's very unique.