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San Clemente Journal

Living In Harmony - Sweet Adelines

Aug 01, 2010 09:38PM ● By Brian O

by Maggie Zeibak

“I only know two tunes. One of them is ‘Yankee Doodle’ and the other isn’t.” - Ulysses S. Grant

They say they want to “Harmonize the World”. Now, that’s a big job for some San Clemente women who love to sing with Sweet Adelines International, but that’s the motto of this low-key organization. We’ve all heard of Barbershop Quartets singing a capella and sporting their striped vests and straw boater hats, but the females who enjoy singing in close harmony are making their mark, and wear much glitzier costumes for their performances.

Enjoying the enduring friendships that have evolved in the group, their enthusiasm is boundless and you can tell they are committed to having fun along with laughing and singing. Winning an award for the Most Improved Chorus at a regional contest this year, they have every right to be proud of themselves; after all, it’s quite an accomplishment to improve by 112 points.

Linda Schrab, currently Club Secretary and who sings Lead, has been with this chapter for three years and has seen it grow from 19 members to 37. She says, “Sweet Adelines has become a huge part of my life – a joyous part. It’s like a big, happy singing family full of incredible talent. It educates and entertains and I’ve never belonged to a more wonderful organization.”

The Assistant Director, Adelina Dudda (Baritone) joined for relaxation then discovered the amazing opportunities in the competition and certification programs. “My mom and grandmother both sang to me when I was a child so my love of singing has carried through my life – it just makes me happy!”

In simple terms, barbershop singing is vocal harmony without music, produced by four parts; lead, tenor, baritone and bass. They say that any woman with average singing ability, with or without vocal training, will find a part that fits her range. The energy and physical involvement required from the singer has a degree of intensity not usually found in other choral forms, but is emotionally satisfying to both listener and the performer.
Competing in International Contests, which is a strongly competitive arena, can be a whirlwind of costumes, coaches and choreography. According to Bass singer Barbara McCary, “I couldn’t imagine anything as exciting as coming in 4th in my first competition back in 1991. Although I dropped out of the group for a while, last year I heard that Stan Sharpe had been hired as the new director, I went back and it was like going home. The outstanding women in my chorus are warm, caring and helpful and as a group we are wonderfully diverse. Some of us are nurses; others are teachers, musicians, business women, dancers, but our goal is the same: to sing as well as we can with the education and leadership provided in Sweet Adelines.”

Mary Ann Johnson’s favorite song is “Let Freedom Ring.” A retired musician, she’s also a great fan of the Director. “I love this chorus, love the friendships, the chance to perform and especially enjoy the learning experience with a talented director like Stan Sharpe.”

So, who is this man in the midst of musical sounds? Stan Sharpe’s name is a household word for Sweet A’s since 1958, having directed in Tucson, Phoenix, Roswell, Albuquerque and Orange County. All but one won First Place Gold Medals in their respective Division Contests. 
“I’ve been a voice teacher for 35-years, and have taught over 500 men and women how to sing correctly. Since Barbershop Music is one of the three American Musical Art Forms, it is very difficult to master the intricate chord structures, but we all love a challenge, don’t we?”

Sharpe went on to say, “This is my third time directing this chapter. I came out of retirement to assist them in their goal to get better and grow into a larger chorus. We have added 9 new singers in the past 18-months bringing our membership to 35-plus members, and are looking to build it up to at least 50 strong. The most wonderful people in the world are in Sweet Adelines and many lifetime friendships have formed over the years. Women from all walks of life experience the thrill of singing well and being part of a strong professional singing group. I love directing and teaching Barbershop and working with all the great women who enjoy this hobby that gives so much pleasure to everyone who sings it or listens to it.”
Waverly Reed, a 20-year resident of San Clemente, joined the chorus a year ago. “It was a great time to jump in and see if I liked it. And I did! I auditioned and was accepted so it has been a year of memorizing songs, making new friends and I’ve brushed up on long lost musical skills. There’s nothing in this world that comes close to the magical experience of creating vocal harmony like this with everyone working on the same goal – to make beautiful music together and give it away. Sweet Adelines is like a supercharged voice lesson each week with the added caveat of good company and lots of challenge.”

Newly retired and new to California, Lori Johnson couldn’t agree more, “I decided to seek a musical activity and to volunteer. I wanted to be part of like-minded people, singing really interesting music that brings joy to so many people. The Sweet Adelines have performed the holiday package twice at Casa Romantica where I volunteer as a docent, so I am amused at how things can be so intertwined and bring so much pleasure. That’s the way it is supposed to be.”

Look out for performances in Orange County and if you’ve got a secret yearning to be a vocal star, think of those stunning costumes you’ll get to wear. Joining this dynamic group for weekly rehearsals can only realize your potential. Be in harmony. Be upbeat.

For more information go to or call Dody Oleson at (949)495-5685