Choir takes a trip through history
“We have teachers, factory workers, cleaning service owners, civic leaders, principals, Realtors, insurance agents, doctors, [and] we range in age from 75 to 17. We just all have one thing in common: that is the love of music and we love singing in a group. It’s a great bond.”
The Singing Men of Arkansas are celebrating 10 years together as an auditioned men’s chorus with four performances before the end of the year, as well as their second tour of Ireland coming in the spring. Steve Gray is an original member of the group that now comprises more than 50 singers and says though the majority of members have no formal musical training, the members pride themselves on the quality of their performances.
“We [do] have an audition, which really is more about learning where your voice is,” he says of the group’s ranging talent. “These are everyday people who give up two hours a week and perform a good dozen times during the year at events. So we stay active.”
That busy schedule includes the latest addition to the singers’ repertoire, “Sing America!” — a multimedia program that takes a tour through the history of American musical styles. The familiar tunes range from spirituals and hymns to barbershop quartet, doowop and the Beach Boys. It’s the program the choir performed last year at the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale to a packed house, and it’s the music they’ll be taking back to Ireland in the spring.
“There’s no sense singing Irish songs in Ireland — they hear them all the time! So we’re going to bring a little Americana over there next year,” Gray enthuses.
Following their “Sing America!” show on Friday at the University of Arkansas’ Faulkner Performing Arts Center, the gentlemen will perform their “Heritage of Hymns” show at the First Nazarene Church in Rogers in October, a Jazz Sampler at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville — to coincide with the new temporary exhibition “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” in November — and their “Home for Christmas” concert at Springdale High School in December.
— Jocelyn Murphy
The Singing Men of Arkansas
WHEN — 8 p.m. Friday
WHERE — Faulkner Performing Arts Center, UA campus, Fayetteville
COST — $10-$20
INFO — singingmenofarkansas.org