Obvious connections between baby boomers and millennials in 2016 may seem few.
At least to someone who hasn’t witnessed a performance of the Show-Me Harmony Chorus.
The all-women group of singers has been performing in Joplin and the surrounding area for 45 years. Still, says Glenda Rucker, the group’s director, the Show-Me Harmony Chorus is relatively unknown.
“We jokingly — but seriously, too — say it’s the best-kept secret in town,” Rucker said.
The Show-Me Harmony Chorus is a member of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide nonprofit with nearly 23,000 members. Founded in 1945, Sweet Adelines’ mission is “advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education, competition and performance,” its website says.
Rucker says the Show-Me Harmony Chorus’ youngest performers are in their 20s and the most senior singers are in their 70s. The group currently has about 25 members.
“It’s not like a limitation on what you can do just because you get older,” Rucker said. “Sports kind of die out, and everything else, but singing and sharing the harmonies that we do can last a lifetime. And I think that’s one of the things that attracted me most to Sweet Adelines was being able to sing four-part harmony and just to make all these different friendships. I have friends from all over the world.”
The group is scheduled to perform “Sidekick Showdown” at Ozark Christian College on Saturday. Members of the chorus will portray superheroes, Rucker said.
Carol Striegel, a 23-year veteran of the Show-Me Harmony Chorus, said the performance, and many the group has put on recently, is more than just singing.
“As Sweet Adelines has grown through the years, they have added more script or comedy,” she said. “Some of our shows have had a lot of a comedy aspect to it. It just gives it a little more than just standing on the risers singing the songs.”
The Show-Me Harmony Chorus performs at various events in the area throughout the year, such as Christmas events at schools and churches and company parties, Striegel said. The chorus then competes regionally in the spring.
Striegel joined Rucker in stressing Sweet Adelines’ international reach, telling the story of a 1995 conference in New Orleans where she was among 15,000 attendees from several different countries.
The chorus rehearses at 7 p.m. each Thursday at the Joplin Family Worship Center, 5190 E. 7th Street, and is always accepting new members.
“People seem to think that, ‘Oh, well, you got a group of ladies that meet on Thursday nights and they sit around and they sing.’” Rucker said. “Well that’s not all there is to it. We get to go out and we get to perform for various groups. And it’s amazing to see faces in the audience. I’ll say, ‘How many of you ever heard us before?’ To think that so few know about us is kind of mind-boggling to those of us that are in the organization. And you can’t get new members unless you get people that know about you.”
On May 1, the Show-Me Harmony Chorus received a certificate from Sweet Adelines International marking the group’s 45 years as a member and its “loyal, persevering and harmonious efforts toward” that accomplishment.