Barbershop

Reporter: Mark Gibson

Alex says "We sort of market ourselves as a group of ordinary guys with an extraordinary sound."Harry says "You've got to have talent, you've got to have the opportunity and you've got to have passion." These blokes have all of the above. Called "Vocal Evolution," they're our national champions and they're about to take on the world. "To be actually going not only to represent ourselves but also Australia in the grand scheme of things at the international competition is pretty huge."23 year old Alex Morris is the choir's musical director. "It's a very attractive sound to the ear and also it can be a difficult sound to make so people often consider barber shop as a good training tool but also a great mechanism to have a bit of fun."

With its roots in African-American churches, barbershop singing has been around for more than a century but look how big it is now. "It was the old blokes standing around the barber shop in the earlier days but it really has developed into quite a competitive art form."

"I never dreamed in a million years that I'd be singing at this sort of level." Harry Owen started Vocal Evolution nine years ago. At 69, he's the group's oldest member. "We started pulling in people, knowledgable people to advise us on the way to go, mouth shapes, attack, releases, how facial expressions can actually change the sound of what you're doing. It's serious business. Oh it is, yes."

"My part is the baritone part and we're sort of more nerdy than the other parts." At 19, Gareth Hearne is the youngest member. "Lots of choruses are, used to be and still are, lots of choruses, mostly the older guys and it helps having younger voices as well, makes it sound a bit better and just lots of energy."

With Barbershop music there are no instruments, no backing tapes.. just beautiful harmonies. In large choirs or small quartets. It's enjoying a resurgence, thanks to acts like Benchmark, who've made it all the way to the final on Australia's Got Talent.

When Vocal Evolution return from the U.S. they'll be missing one set of vocal chords, with Harry bringing down the curtain on his career. Harry says "I'm finding 3 and a half hours standing on the rises is mainly for the younger guys, not me, so I think I shall pull the pin and offfer advice where ever I'm asked to give it."

The 30 strong choir is always looking for new members but there are strict criteria. Harry says "If you can't meet the requirements then you're politely told that maybe this isn't for you."

Further Details

www.vocalevolution.com