Sweet Adelines group looking for an upbeat time

Hear the name ?Sweet Ade?lines? and you might envision the international women?s organization that performs old-time songs in barbershop harmony.

But you may be at least partly surprised when the member group Sound of the Heart?land Ensemble, based in Newton, performs at the Marion County Fair at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 27.

Barbershop harmony sung acappella is still the trademark, but most of the songs are modern and upbeat.

?It?s not just old-fogey music,? said Sue Moore of Wichita, who has been singing with the group for 20 years and serves as assistant director and membership coordinator.

?I know we?re going to do some more up-to-date songs that hopefully people have heard and will enjoy,? she added. ?I don?t know that we?ll sing any religious songs, but we do have some up-tempo gospel songs that we sing. We may sing one of those.?

For its indoor performances, Sound of the Heartland usually adds choreography, but Moore said the outdoor venue in Hills?boro will limit what the group can do with an audience.

?But it?ll be entertaining and I think people will enjoy the music,? she added.

Group dynamics

Terry Scott of Newton is the latest addition to the 22-member chorus. The first night she visited a rehearsal, she wasn?t sure barbershop harmony was the style of singing she was looking for.

?I like anything that has harmony to it,? Scott said. ?I sang with them a few weeks and just fell in love with them?not only the music, but the people and the professionalism and the dedication to learning and doing it right and not just settling for ?that?s good enough.?

?That really means a lot to me.?

The Sweet Adelines approach attracts women from a variety of backgrounds, and Sound of the Heartland is no exception.

Moore works as a print estimator and Scott in a veterans hospital. The group also includes teachers, accountants, students, nurses, grandmothers, mothers and engineers.

Moore got connected with Sweet Adelines when a friend, who already was a member, heard her singing along with the car radio.

?She invited me to visit,? Moore said. ?I just really loved it right off the bat. I?ve been there ever since.?

Scott, meanwhile, had sung in church for years but had always kept an eye out for other outlets. Last summer she saw Sound of the Heart?land?s ad for auditions in the newspaper.

The auditioning process turned out to be low key, she said.

?You get to sing with the chorus for several weeks and they give you learning tracks so you can practice on your own,? Scott said.

?When you?re ready to audition, they take you off to a separate room and you sing in a quartet. Someone who sings your part stands behind you so that if you get off a little bit off track, you can get back on and you?re not left hanging. It?s a very supportive environment.?

Group journey

The group now known as Sound of the Heartland got its start in Valley Center. About eight years ago, the group relocated to Newton and adopted its current name.

In addition to performances across the region, the ensemble competes annually in Sweet Adelines? Region 7 competition. It won first place, Division AA, for three years in a row, and for the past two years won both the ?audience favorite? award and the Ruby Pike Award for highest sound scores for a small chorus.

Sweet Adelines International also emphases music education. Sound of the Heartland includes free voice lessons accompanied by opportunities for women and girls to sing with the group at concerts during the year.

The group puts on an annual show in fall with a different theme each year. This year?s show, featuring an Elvis Presley theme, will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 in Krehbiel Auditorium on the campus of Bethel College in North Newton.

Members encourage women who may be interested in joining the chorus to visit its website at soundoftheheartland.com, or approach one of the members after their appearance at the fair.

Sound of the Heartland rehearses every Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Trinity Heights United Metho?dist Church in Newton.

County fair show

Rachel Newell, the group?s publicity chair, said about 15 members will be performing at the county fair.

?We?re starting with a flash-mob style performance in the street, and following that with some great singing among fairgoers,? Newell said. ?We?ll be singing a couple of show tunes along with a few other favorites.

?We are thrilled to be able to participate in the fair this year?especially in this fun way.?

Sound of the Heartland?s performance at the fair is free. An opportunity will be provided to donate money to cover the group?s travel expenses.

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