From: US1RMC::"email@example.com" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing!'s-eye view - HI Int'l #1
I'm Shanno Wilson and I sing lead in a Harmony, Inc. quartette called Zing! The following is an account of our adventures at our recent International contest.
The rest of my quartette-mates are: Linda Bober, tenor; Tracy Harrison, bass; and Debbie Borsari, baritone.
Usually I take the Wednesday of contest week off and just sort of run errands, putter around, and get myself in a contest frame of mind before I leaving Thursday. This year, however, I'm traveling today in the late afternoon, and I have to work a half day, so I'm a tad discombobulated.
Linda picks me up from work around 1:30 and we go hang out at her house before catching the bus to the airport. Linda and I are known as the "psycho early chicks" by the other Zing!ers for our propensity to arrive way ahead of schedule no matter what. We arrive at the airport without incident, and we have enough time to get and exchange currency, shop for a gift for our quartette hostess and pick up snacks/reading material.
We get to the gate and find one of our friends from the Women of Note chorus, Michele, so we sit and gab with her for a while. We are surprised when Debbie shows up relatively early, since she lives the furthest away and is one of our usual late-niks. We take bets on who will arrive the most late, Tracy or Michele's traveling companion, Diana, who until this morning thought her flight was leaving at 7:45 instead of its actual time of 5:30. Our money is on Tracy, who considers her time wasted if the jetway door doesn't hit her in the butt as she runs in with her hair on fire.
Neither has shown up as we begin boarding the flight, but they do eventually straggle aboard, with Tracy just edging out Diana for most late honors. (She's not very amused by our bet, however.) She's appeased when I hand her a candy necklace to match the ones we are all wearing. She immediately devours a good bit before we make her stop, since there's only so much artificial coloring one should ingest in a single sitting.
After an uneventful flight, we arrive in Toronto. Linda and Debbie make friends with a fellow traveler in the Customs line, so of course we have to fire up a tune for him. We gather a little crowd and get a round of applause, which was a nice way to start our trip. We pick up our rental car and head for Hamilton, which is about 40 minutes away. Debbie mentions to our traveler friend that she had heard Hamilton was a beautiful place and he just laughs. (Not a good sign!) We can't fit all the luggage in the trunk since Tracy and Debbie have condo-sized bags, so Deb and I sit in back with a suitcase protruding into the front seat between us.
We find Hamilton and since we're starving (candy necklaces aren't all that filling) we get carry out food from KFC. We were bummed to find out that in Canada, they don't have mashed potatoes and gravy - hello, what's up with that! The Colonel is spinning in his grave, I'm sure. I guess we're lucky they have fried chicken...
We arrive at the hotel, which is across the street from a strip club, and a fine eatery called (I'm not making this up) Buttinsky's Bar and Wing Joint. Next door is Foxe's Den, and the XXXX cinema, which is billed as "Canada's Largest and Best Adult Entertainment Center". At least we're not subjected to being next to an *inferior* adult entertainment center is what I say. And, being Canada, even the neighborhood with the strip joints is clean and well landscaped.
Our hotel is ancient - slow elevators (all both of them), saggy squishy beds, and the loudest flushing toilet in the western hemisphere. We eat, unpack, gab for a while and hit the sack so all of us but Linda can get up for the Associate Members meeting in the morning.
From: US1RMC::"firstname.lastname@example.org" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing's-eye view HI #2
I wake up before the alarm goes off and decide to hop in the shower. It's not a terribly relaxing shower, however, since I am repeatedly blasted with alternating streams of blazing hot and freezing cold water, inevitably when I have shampoo or soap in my eyes. I do manage, between jumping in and out of the scald/freeze cycles, to vocalize a little.
We get dressed in our standard Zing!wear. For me it's purple sneakers with rainbow laces, bright pink tights, black bike shorts, black t-shirt with purple and bright green Zing! logo, and a Zing! bead necklace, but we all have different colors of shoes, tights, and logos. (Looking at Zing! is like looking at the sun - you can't stare too long or it could cause permanent eye damage. ;-)) Tracy, Debbie, and I head off to the Associate Members meeting and Linda goes to the grocery store to pick up Zing! food.
The meeting is at the headquarters hotel, which we're told is a 15 minute walk from our hotel. After initially heading in the wrong direction (thanks, Tracy!) we arrive at the Sheraton and find the meeting. Lauren Lindeman (past president, Music judge, and Harmony Queen with The Villagers) leads the meeting. We get caught up on all the latest Harmony news - finances, rule changes etc. An interesting rule change is that in the past, quartettes were only allowed to have 2 queens, total. According to a new rule quartettes may now have all queens, but not more than two from the same quartette. (I think this is the same as SAI and SPEBSQSA.) Some people don't like the idea, but we think that anything that might raise the level of competition is a good thing.
Lauren also talks about licensing fees for using the Harmony, Inc. logo for profit. She uses the example of someone who wants to use the logo for, say, a nose ring. The person would pay a fee for one year of using the logo. She said, "So, you make up 300 of them and at the end of the year you have 296 left, because Zing! was the only group who would buy any." We insist that we would only buy them if they were belly button rings.
After the meeting, we socialize a bit with the Diamond Girls, who are new to Harmony, Inc. (I believe they are members of SAI as well). The buzz on them is very hot, since they won their Area contest in the spring and are coming in with the second highest qualifying score. They seem a bit taken aback by our fervent good luck wishes since we'll be competing against each other tomorrow, but we let them know that one of the greatest things about HI is that all the competitors sincerely wish that everyone does their best, and we all root for each other. Lauren warns the Diamond Girls against getting corrupted by hanging out with Zing! I mean, as *if*... ;-)
We check in our mailbox by the Hospitality room and find it overflowing with good luck messages from the other quartettes. (I don't know if any other organization does this, but it's our tradition to give all the other competitors a good luck card and a little gift.) Everyone has gone overboard with the Halloween theme, and we've got candy galore. (Bonus!) This is great because, as you know if you read my account last year, Zing! loves dessert, especially of the chocolate variety.
We meet up with Linda, and Debbie decides not to go back to the hotel with us, since she has a Queen-type meeting and rehearsal. The rest of us head to the hotel to unpack the groceries. Linda got all the stuff we like, which is no surprise since she was armed with her own Anal Retentive Packing List. Not only does the list have every item we need to put in our suitcases (from alarm clock to Zing! signs) but it lists all the food we like to have as well. You'll be happy to know that Linda's famous Anal Retentive Packing List is available for view on our new web page, and, following her anal theme, can be downloaded in any one of 5 formats! :-) The page is still under construction, but if you want to take a look, it's at: http://www.ultranet.com/~bbober/zing.html
From: US1RMC::"email@example.com" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing!'s-eye view HI #3
Linda, Tracy and I eat. They have lunch, and I have my favorite meal - a truly enormous breakfast (eggs, toast, hash browns, bacon and pancakes with fresh raspberry stuff. Mmmm.) We then head back to the Sheraton (I'm sick of this walk already!) to pick up Debbie and go over to our on-stage time. We are happy to see that we'll be singing in a real theater. We only have 5 minutes on stage, which we don't find very helpful. We practice our entrance and Debbie walks on and automatically goes to her old quartette spot (we switched Debbie and Linda's standing positions back in August). Oops. Good thing she did that now and not tomorrow. We start and finish a couple of songs, but are unable to get a real feel for our singing in the space. The mikes are too high and the monitors aren't loud enough. Before we know it, they're calling time, and we have to leave. I'm fairly freaked out by our experience, but try to shake it off.
We decide to go back to the hotel (walk!) and get Debbie's stuff for tonight ironed, and then return to the Sherator (walk!) for the Harmonet gathering. Debbie calls for an ironing board, but they're all gone, so she irons as best she can on the bed. We graze on candy (there's never a bad time for M&M's) and leave for the Harmonet gathering. On the elevator we start singing and are still singing as we get off and run into... my parents! They think it's just perfect that the first barbershop they hear is from us, and exclaim over how beautiful, talented, and just plain wondrous we are. (They're terribly objective, of course. ;-)) Dad informs us that he used us as an excuse to buy a new lens for his camera, and he can't wait to try it out. Mom does a lot of beaming, at which she is especially talented. We tell them that we'll meet them later, and go back to the Sheraton (walk!).
We find the gathering, organized by Heather Rodman of the hostess chapter, Pride of Niagara. Heather did a great job organizing. (Thanks, Heather!) It's a nice room, and there are snacks and drinks and lots of raucous laughter. I wouldn't presume to name names, but it sounded suspiciously like someone with the initials Joan Ross. We say hi and schmooze with our Harmonet pals. Charlie Hill from New Orleans who is here as a contest administrator, lets me know that he really liked my account from last year, and that he especially remembered two things about it - our slogan "You go, girl" and the motto we use when putting on our makeup, "When you look like a prostitute, you're halfway there". I tell him that the makeup motto was Patrick Tucker-Kelly's favorite part, too. (Hi PTK!)
We also see Nancy Foris, our current Queens For Heaven's Sake, Lindsay Chartier, Cindy Burrus, and have a nice chat with Dick Treptow. The lead of For Heaven's Sake is having a glass of wine, but comments that she needs to eat something or she'll be looped for the Parade tonight. She also relates a story about when the bass Katie (awesome bass - *hello*!) had a couple drinks at an afterglow where they were performing and got very... hm... outgoing, shall we say, during their set . Katie insists that it was nothing embarassing, just very hammy. :-)
We need to eat dinner, so Heather lets us know that she has reservations at a bar/restaurant in the mall called Walt's. We grab some buds from Women of Note and find Walt's with no problem, but they don't have Heather's reservation. Oops. They give us a table near some friends of ours from Maine and they request a tune. We sing something with a wicked high loud tag, which is a crowd pleaser. My parents also show up - they were in the mall trying to find a one-hour photo place for Dad to develop his pictures. Are they great, or what?
We eat and sing Women of Note songs, and then Deb has to leave to do her queenly duties for the Parade of Champions tonight. The Parade starts with Limited Edition, who sang on this year's SPEBSQSA World Harmony Jamboree. (The lead, Wendy Mercier, is Debbie's sister.) They do a great set, but they are very emotional since their baritone, Linda Janes, is retiring from the quartette and this will be their last performance together. At the end of their set they say thank you to Linda and give her a big bouquet of roses. I get choked up at that point and look over at Debbie to see if she's crying. Of course she is, and she lets us know that she cried through the entire set. (Only Debbie could cry after Zip A Dee Do Da. ;-))
I only make it through the first half of the Parade since I'm really tired and want to be well rested for the contest tomorrow. Mom and Dad walk me back to the hotel, where they admire our door, which has a flourescent orange and black Zing! sign outlined in blinking white Christmas tree lights. We chat for a while in the room and they kiss me good night and leave. I fall asleep for a short time until the rest of Zing! gets back from the show. Martha Wilson from Women of Note stops by with a sweet good luck gift for us.
We discuss going to the Membership Meeting tomorrow. It runs from 8-10:30, the quartette briefing is at 11:30 and we go on stage at 12:37. This leaves us very little time to get ready unless we get up at the crack of dawn. (Not likely!) Linda needs to go to the meeting as a member of Women of Note's leadership team, but Tracy and I definitely bag out. Debbie is waiting to see how she feels in the morning. (If she goes, I'll eat my pitchpipe! ;-))
From: US1RMC::"firstname.lastname@example.org" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing!'s-eye view HI #4
Sorry about the interruption in service. (@#$#@ gateway!) If you sent me a
message between Wednesday and today, I probably didn't get it. -Shanno
The alarm goes off and Linda gets up to get ready for the Membership Meeting. She takes everything she'll need for the quartette contest, since she'll go pretty much directly from the meeting to the quartette briefing to dressing rooms backstage to prepare for the contest. I can hear her going through the list "shoes, hose, underwear, strapless bra, gloves, choker, earrings... what am I forgetting?" We'll bring her dress with us after Tracy irons it this morning.
Debbie wakes up and (surprise!) decides not to go to the meeting. I guess I don't have to eat my pitchpipe.
I get in the shower next and try to warm up. I throw in an aria for the heck of it, but nothing too strenuous. Unbeknownst to me, the rest of Zing! is making up a story about how I'm some princess locked in a tower, calling for my prince. (They're a weird bunch, admittedly, but I love them anyway. ;-))
Linda eventually leaves, though she is daring enough to actually be late. (Living on the edge... What's next? Running with scissors? ;-)) Tracy starts ironing all the dresses. I don't know how she inherited the job of "press agent", but she does it every contest very conscientiously, to the extent of even bringing her own iron. (She hasn't been stopped at Customs so far....)
My parents stop by to bring us some treats and find out what time we want to go over to the theater, since no transportation is provided for the competing quartettes staying out here in Stripclubland. We tell them we're just about ready, and to come back in 15. We munch some bagels, fruit, and cereal and get packed up.
Now we're *all* going through the list, "O.k., shoes, hose, underwear, strapless bra, gloves, choker, earrings, dress... what am I forgetting?" We're paranoid about forgetting something, because we won't really have time to come back for it, being so early in the draw (3rd).
Mom and Dad come back and we load up the car and drive over to the theater. We find our assigned dressing room (with Linda already in it) and drop our stuff. The dressing rooms are fantastic. We are psyched to see that there is ample room for all of us to make up at the same time, as well as a closet and an attached bathroom which we share with the room next door. Bonus! :-)
Dad wants to know when we're going to start getting ready so he can come back and take pictures. (I think he's getting a little too into his role as documentary photographer.) I remind him of my rule - "no makeup, no picture" and he reluctantly acquiesces. (Go ahead, call me vain. I can take it. ;-)) We tell him we should be back from the briefing by 11:30. We sing a little bit and start getting into our "pre-game".
We go to the briefing where we they take the roll of the quartettes. Instead of saying "Here" when they call "Zing!" we say "You go, girls!". We are very proud when F.L.A.S.H. (featuring Harmonetter Lindsay Chartier) answers to their name by standing up, bent over at the waist with their hands together holding an imaginary coat and saying "Go F.L.A.S.H.! Huh!" while opening the imaginary coat and doing a pelvic thrust on the "Huh!" (Did I do o.k., Lindsay? ;-)) Those kids just bring a tear to my eye.... :-)
We meet the panel and the contest administrator informs us that the microphones have been lowered (Yes!) but the monitors will be the same as our on-stage time. This doesn't inspire me with confidence, but whatever...
We head back to the dressing room to get dolled up and prepared.
From: US1RMC::"email@example.com" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing!'s-eye view HI #5
Keeping in mind that there is no such thing as natural beauty, we start making up. Dad is there, snapping pictures. (Um hello Dad, can you keep the pictures of me making up in my bra to a minimum? I'm not exactly Madonna, you know. ;-)) He goes away and says he'll come back once we get our dresses on. Once we have all passed my inspection (Yes, Tracy, you must wear lipstick. More eyeliner, Linda. Did you powder, Deb?) we get our dresses on.
We *love* these dresses. They are black, with thin straps, a fitted bodice with a high waist, and two tiers of chiffon. (It's a great dress for twirling around in. :-)) We wear them with black velvet chokers with a rhinestone in the middle and black 3/4 length gloves. All I can say is that when we get this outfit on, we feel *SASSY*! Dad comes back to take pictures and exclaims over our stunningness. We sing him a song and he just sits there with his mouth open. (Aren't parents a wonderful thing?) He kisses us one last time and heads out to the audience.
We warm up and try to relax. One good thing about being early in the draw is less time sitting around being nervous. Our hostess, Mary Brown from the Pride of Niagara, comes by and gives us a little gift and tells us we have about 10 minutes. They are back in no time to take us to the stage.
We hug in the wings and tell them that we're ready. When we hear the announcement start, we head out on the stage. We go in a line across the back of the stage while the presenter is saying "Our next contestant, from Area 2, Women of Note and Associates" and when she says "Zing!" we turn and walk directly at the audience with huge smiles and our arms out to the side at shoulder height like "Are we the bomb or what?" :-) We take applause with a curtsey (no deep bowing in this dress!) and go to the microphone. We've been humming our pitch as we entered, so we launch right into "I'd Rather Be the Girl in Your Arms Than the Girl in Your Dreams" (arranged by Tom Gentry). As the title suggests, this is a sassy song and perfectly suited to the dress. It goes o.k. We take applause and then sing "If I Had My Way". We have had some problem tuning the climax (not a good thing!) but this time it goes fine. We take applause and leave the stage.
We feel fairly good about our performance. It was far from perfect, but it seemed to go as well as it could at this point in time.
We go to get our official picture taken. We notice a grand piano not far from the photo area and ask the photographer what he thinks of using it in the picture. He's in favor of it, so we roll it over and arrange ourselves on and around it. Dad also gets some shots while trying to stay out of the way of the official shot. We go back to the dressing room to clear our stuff out and then go to sit in the audience for the rest of the contest.
There are 28 quartettes in the contest, so it's a long day. Top Five songs I could happily go a long time without hearing again are: 5. Old St. Louis 4. Back in the Old Routine 3. Georgia 2. I Didn't Want to Fall 1. The Moment I Saw Your Eyes. It becomes difficult to avoid an audible groan when some poor quartette fires up one of the above. I also noticed most of the quartettes who sang Georgia are from Canada. Scary trend or sinister plot? ;-)
As the contest progresses, we get a lot of comments about our dresses (Lynn Randall, lead of queens The Villagers tells me that there's more material in her underwear than in our dress. ;-)) and about our "energy", but not too many about how great we did. (When people earnestly ask you, "How do you feel about your performance?" and look concerned, it's not generally a good sign.) There seem to be many quartettes around our level who do very well. Euphoria, who finished 1 point behind us last year really made terrific progress over the year. I'll be very surprised if they don't medal. High Fidelity, who mike tested last year, are very tight as well.
We went into the contest hoping to move up from our 5th place finish last year, but now we're just hoping to make the cut or mike test. :-/
We have fun rooting for all our friends, especially IMAGES. When they come out on stage, the audience goes wild. They do a wonderful set, including a gem of a Just a Cottage Small. After that song there is a big pause and an audible sigh from the audience before we all burst into sustained applause. What a great moment!
Footloose does a funny parody of Back in the Old Routine called Back in my old Blue Jeans, about not being able to fit in their clothes ("I'm not a liar, they shrunk in the dryer!" is one of my favorite lines.) We have heard that the baritone, Meridy is having back trouble, but you can't tell from looking at her. What a trouper! :-)
The last contestant is F.L.A.S.H., who came into the contest not only singing last in order, but last in the standings. They have nothing to lose, and hope to just move up a couple of places. They do a terrific job and we all agree that they are not going to be leaving here in last place. (You go, girls!)
The time for the announcement of the finalists comes. We hold hands and hope for the best, Dad's camera at the ready. As she gets further down the list of names, we realize that we're not going to make it. It's not a fun moment. We listen for our evaluation time and stand to sing the Harmony theme song. It usually chokes me up (I'm a sentimental fool, I know) but this time I can't even sing. Linda and Tracy go with my parents back to the hotel to pick up the stuff we need for evaluations. Debbie and I will meet them over at the Sheraton.
We get some comments/condolences along the way from people who had picked us to be in the 10. (Thanks, Jacquie! :-)) Debbie and I are a bit in shock, since we've never not made the finals. (This is my fifth contest in HI and I've never been out of the top 5.) But while we are shocked and disappointed, we feel o.k., because we did the best we could do at this point in time. We're very interested to hear what the judges say in our evaluations.
From: US1RMC::"firstname.lastname@example.org" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing!'s-eye view HI#6
(Sorry about the multiple posts of #4. The messages I have been getting from my system are contrary to reality. :-/ I'm still not consistently getting messages, so if you sent me something and I haven't answered, please send again. -Shanno)
Our evaluation time looms near and Deb and I see no sign of Linda or Tracy. Luckily the elevators take an interminably long time and Zing! is reunited before one becomes available. The room we are supposed to be in is locked, so we start our first evaluation standing up in the hallway with Dave LaBar, in the Singing category. He concentrates on our lack of consistent unit singing. ("At any one time, we could listen to any one of you." - ouch!) Halfway through the eval someone shows up with a key and we go in to finish up, with Mary Capper joining Dave. Each evaluation is only 10 minutes which means the judge talks as fast as possible and, if you're lucky, gets through both songs and some comments before they call time.
I must say that this is a milestone evaluation for me, since Singing evaluations usually begin with "O.K., lead...." and then go on to kindly enumerate my many vocal shortcomings until I'm sitting there with tears running down my face, and my throat as tight as a fist, which is of course when the judge says, "why don't you sing something for me?". ;-)
Next is Presentation, with Mike O'Donnell and Theresa Wetherbee. This evaluation is a little more fun, since it was our highest scoring category. We find out that, even though we finished 13th, our Presentation scores were 5th. Bonus! They love the dresses and kid us that we could have gotten a couple more points out of Dick Treptow if we had taken deeper bows. (Now, you're not that big a pig are you, Dick? ;-)) Mike loved our entrance, saying that it was an A+, so we were perfect until we started actually *singing*. :-) They give us more advice on how to better our scores and before we know it we're on to Music.
Lauren Lindeman, with Malka Simon, filled in at the last minute in the Music category for Jim Kahlke who was felled by viral induced vertigo. (Hope you're feeling better, Jim!) Lauren also talked to us about our lack of unit singing and some balance and tuning problems. She also thought that we needed to be "more cute" on I'd Rather Be the Girl in Your Arms. (I mean, as *if*... ;-))
All in all, we feel good about our evaluations. Our biggest priority going forward is to get intensive coaching in Singing. If we could just sing as good as we dress, then we'd really be on to something.... ;-)
We head back to the hotel to change for the Finals. I didn't pack any extra clothes, so I have to borrow a shirt from Linda -- I was planning to wear a costume tonight! :-( We don't have anything matching, so we just try to be comfortable in jeans and T-shirts.
We go downstairs to the restaurant for dinner. There are plenty of barbershoppers there already, including a bunch from the Montreal chorus (home of F.L.A.S.H.). We talk to director, Mark Lewis and wish him luck for tomorrow. We can't get anyone to wait on us, so we sing instead. We also chat a bit with Laura Holmes, lead of Skylark, who's also from Montreal, who finished right behind us. We eventually chow on comfort food -- there's nothing like mashed potatoes and a chocolate shake to make everything right with the world. My parents show up and together we congratulate F.L.A.S.H. on their 19th place finish ("Go F.L.A.S.H.! Huh!"). They were a big hit with my Mom, since she has a weakness for chicks with attitude.
Ater we finish up, we go back to the theater for the Finals. We miss the mike testers, but make it in for the first quartette. I must say that while it totally sucks to be in the audience for the Finals, it is nice to see the whole contest. When IMAGES comes out, they bring the house down. If they don't win tonight, I think there will be a riot. They do a fabulous job, even though they sing my currently least favorite song, The Moment I Saw Your Eyes.
Footloose was supposed to be early in the draw, but they keep getting pushed back, so we assume that Meridy is having more back problems. (We send her some healing vibes...) Euphoria turns in another solid performance, as does High Fidelity. Finally Footloose comes on last. They do a ballad and then a hysterical meter parody of Love Eyes. I'd try to describe it, but I'm just not that talented, or should I say twisted? ;-)
Now begins the wait for the announcements. They start with the awards. Our Area 2 friends, Conchordia, get the Chris Scott Trophy for service in their community. Our buds from Change of Heart get the Accord Award for most improved (you go, girls!). Then comes the announcement for the Jean Eggleton Memorial Award for the non-medalist quartette with the highest Presentation scores in a set. We hear her say, "And the Jean Eggleton Memorial Award goes to... Zing!" We are totally flabberghasted. We scream and hug and then think, "We have to go on stage looking like this?" We run backstage where they tell us that we'll go on with the presenter and then get our picture taken. We're like, whoa, I don't think so in this outfit! ;-) We go on stage and do the Jambalaya thing of taking applause with our arms and legs spread out as far as they go. Backstage we make arrangements with the presenter and the photographer to get our picture taken tomorrow before the chorus contest when we look a tad more presentable.
Clutching our award, we head back to our seats for the medalist announcements. Fourth place goes to Euphoria, third to High Fidelity, second to Footloose, and first to our new Harmony Queens, IMAGES! We are so psyched for IMAGES. It's been a long road to the crown, but they're going to be great champs. Last year's queens For Heaven's Sake help pin their crowns on and they sing their first song as queens. Debbie's crying, of course, and so am I as we hold hands and sing the Harmony theme song, "We're Harmony, we're strong".
We see Footloose on our way out, with Meridy in a wheelchair. She tells us that she has to have some gruesome surgery because she was born without some vertabrae. Wow. With her bright smile and effervescence you'd never even know anything was wrong. We wish her luck and give them all congrats on their finish.
We head back to the hotel through the cold drizzle, gab for a while and hit the sack since we have the Women of Note chorus breakfast early tomorrow.
From: US1RMC::"email@example.com" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing!'s-eye view HI#7
I have woken up during the night since Tracy has broken several of my rules of civilized platonic bed-sharing. I know most men would rather sleep in the street than share a bed with another guy, but most of the time it works out fine for us chick-types.
My rules are simple: 1. Keep screaming to a minimum (Tracy had a bad nightmare at our last Area contest. I had to practically jump up and down on her to wake her up, and then she promptly went back to sleep while the rest of us lay there with our hearts pounding.) 2. Keep your pillows to yourself (Tracy likes to sleep with 3 pillows; one under and one over her head and one body pillow. She also likes to fling them around while she sleeps.) 3. No uncovering your bedmate 4. Keep to your side of the Maginot line.
While I'm happy to say that she avoided number 1, she flagrantly disregarded 2-4, leaving me hanging off the side of the bed, freezing but covered in pillows. She meanwhile was blissfully sprawled all over, out like a light. I got back at her in the morning with a rousing rendition of that classic camp song "Rise and Shine and give God your glory, glory", however. Linda joined me in verse number two as I flung open the drapes. We were having a good laugh when, from under the pillows, we heard the forgotten verse #3 from Sleeping Beauty herself. :-)
We shower and go to the Women of Note chorus breakfast. Mom and Dad join us, thanking us for stopping by their room last night. (Oops, I forgot that part in yesterday's account.) They had asked us to stop by after the finals and sing the set we would have done in the finals. They were tired and didn't make it all the way through the evening session, so they missed us getting our award. Dad was particularly bummed at the missed photo op. We sit them down on the couch and start our set complete with announcement and entrance. We start with Rock A Bye Baby, which got them choked up. When we were accepting their applause, they got up and started hugging us. I said no hugging, we're in the middle of the set! :-) Tracy asserted that it would be really good to have hugging in between songs on the contest stage. ;-) We launch into our second song, That's My Weakness/That Certain Party, which they like quite a bit. They are thrilled with the private performance and declare it to be their favorite part of the weekend.
O.k., back to Saturday... We eat breakfast and Tracy notes that Zing! always wears the exact same outfits to the WoN breakfast, since we only have a limited amount of WoN wear. She jokes that the only way to know what year it is in the picture is to look at my hair (ha, ha -- the other three change their hairstyle once every Ice Age) ;-). After breakfast I go back to the room to change for our picture and for the chorus contest. Linda stays to warm up with the chorus and Tracy and Debbie watch.
We get dolled up in our sassy black dresses and gloves and go over to the theater. We find the studio and wait for the photographer and presenter, president of the Pride of Niagara chorus, Pat Reikard. We're sure people think we have flipped, since we're wearing our quartette costumes from last night. ("Boy, not making the 10 really put Zing! over the edge. Look at them, they're still in their costumes!" ;-)) We get our photo taken and change and go to watch the chorus contest.
From: US1RMC::"firstname.lastname@example.org" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing!'s-eye view HI #8
We are so bummed that we miss the Crystal Chords while we're getting our pictures taken. They are an up and coming chorus and we really wanted to see them. Women of Note is on 16th, so Linda watches part of the contest with us.
One of the highlights for us is seeing Acapella Showcase, who are competing for the very first time. They really strut their stuff (a quality we can appreciate ;-)). Way to go, girls! We are also excited for our friends from the Montreal chorus, who are going great guns under Mark Lewis' leadership and turn in a high energy set. We are pleased to see that Northern Blend has made some great strides under Mary Ann Wert, bari of last year's queens For Heaven's Sake. Nice job! Small chorus Niagara Frontier Chord Authority, home of new queens IMAGES, does a wonderful job as well.
Finally, #16 rolls around and we start clapping and hooting and hollering even before the announcement. Women of Note starts with Lonely Nights, which they do with a lot of attitude. We are rolling around laughing at some of the faces our sassy friends are making, especially Linda. You would never guess at how personally conservative Linda is from her behavior on stage -- brazen hussy! ;-) The bass section has been apprehensive about their abilities since they've lost a few of their strongest basses (this was the section Tracy and I sang in before we resigned) in the last year, but they are doing just fine without us and make us very proud. (You go, girls!) Their second song is One Step Dixie. I'm a little worried that they will lose energy after all this aerobic activity, but they do just great. I have them in first so far, but there are some very good choruses to come.
Heart of Indiana does a strong set, dressed in a wide variety of flapper outfits. (We notice Change of Heart showing some shoulder. You go, girls!) The chorus energy is infectious and they're having a great time up there.
They should do very well.
Speaking of strong, perennial champs the Village Vocal Chords are on next to last. They do a beautiful ballad, and show why they are a whole level better than anyone else in the organization. They are just a joy to watch. For their second song, they start "Goodbye, can we really say goodbye?" and we think... "they're singing another ballad? What's up with that?" (Debbie's already crying...) but then it changes to a really funny medley of like 10 songs about how happy they are to say goodbye to the cretin they've been seeing, going so far as to state at one point, "Hasta la vista, Baby!" :-) We all hit our feet cheering our heads off before they finish the tag. Damn, they're good! (and fun, too. ;-))
Last to sing are our hosts, the Pride of Niagara chorus. You'd never know they've all been working their tails off all week - they're having a ball. They do a great set, and Women of Note could be in trouble for 2nd place. (It's clear that, deservedly so, the VVC's have won for the 40 gamillionth time.)
While we are waiting for the scores, last year's champs the Capital Chordettes perform for us. They are known (much like Zing!) for wearing costumes that are similar, but not exactly the same as each other. Tonight they are all wearing the same lovely blue color, but there are at least several different designs. I like it. They are singing just great these days and we really enjoy their performance.
After a bit more waiting, they start with the awards, of which there are a bunch. (I'm sure I won't remember them all, so please don't feel slighted if I forget.) The Macintosh award for small chorus goes to the Niagara Frontier Chord Authority. The LABBS award for highest Presentation score for a non-medalist (hey! that's like Zing!'s award. :-)) goes to Heart of Indiana. I can't recall the name of the awards, but Nothern Blend picks up two; one for the chorus (most improved?) and one for director, Mary Ann Wert. (As she goes to pick up her award her two quartette-mate daughters yell out, "That's my Mom!" :-)) We are also happy to see Acapella Showcase pick up an award.
Now it's time for the medalists.... Fourth place to the Chrystal Chords (now we're really sorry we missed them!), Third place to our hosts Pride of Niagara, Second place to Women of Note (lots of screaming and hugging in our section) and First to our champs, The Village Vocal Chords.
The VVC's treat us to a number and our friend, bass of the Villagers and MC extraordinaire Jacquie Jensen takes the opportunity to make fun of the Capital Chordettes dresses. (She tells us later that they would have been disappointed if she didn't pick on them. ;-)) Jeanne O'Connor (director of the VVCs, bari of queens Kaleidoscope and ICJC) leads us in the Harmony Theme Song. She is so much fun to sing under, even in a mass sing like this. She asks for a lot, but you want to give her even more. We love you, Jeanne! :-)
We go to change into our party clothes and hit the Hospitality rooms.
From: US1RMC::"email@example.com" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing's-eye view HI #9
I got ahead of myself at the end of my last post. (Just post-contest brain sludge, please excuse me. :-)) After the chorus contest three of us head back to the hotel to meet up with my parents for dinner. Linda goes to the Women of Note evaluation and plans to join us at the restaurant.
Saturday night dinner is usually the only time I get to spend with my parents at contest. If I'm singing on the Medalist Showcase, then I'm usually a nervous wreck and can't eat, but I don't have to worry about that tonight, so it's chow time. ;-)
My parents enjoy fine dining, so they have chosen a place with what I call "foo-foo" food. (Don't get me wrong; it's lovely, with high ceilings, candlelight, and crisp white linens, but it's not the kind of place where a girl can get a plain old rare steak and a baked potato, without having it encrusted with nuts from the rainforest and drizzled with kiwi/jalapeno vinaigrette.) Tracy and Debbie, however, are practically rolling in their menus, since esoteric food is right up their alley. Tracy actually orders *ostrich proscuitto* as an appetizer, and Deb gets some grilled endive with fancy mushroom goop on it. When their dishes arrive, the waitress shows up with a pepper mill that is easily three feet long. I mean -- hello! Isn't that just a *trifle* excessive? ;-)
Linda shows up soaking wet from having walked through the rain from the eval. We chastise her for not taking a cab, since she does have to perform tonight, but she thought the restaurant was closer than it actually was, so we let her off the hook.
The food is quite wonderful, I must admit, and we enjoy our conversation with the parental units. After we order dessert, however, we notice that the man at the table behind ours is having some sort of medical problem. We think at first that he's choking and we're wondering why no one is giving him the old Heimlich maneuver. (Linda is ready to jump over there and administer it herself.) The waitress calls 911 or the Canadian equivalent and very quickly a fire truck arrives on the scene. Linda has to leave to get to the theater, so this time she grabs a cab. The EMTs start working on the guy and just a minute after that, an ambulance arrives. They wheel in a gurney and get the guy on it, but they don't want to take it outside since it's raining, so they just leave it blocking the front door of the restaurant. (The restaurant owner is thrilled, I'm sure.) Luckily Deb and I have our backs to the action since it's giving us the heebie-jeebies in a big bad way. Tracy and my Dad, however, are reveling in the whole experience, practically elbowing each other out of the way to get a better look. At this point Deb tells us that she's feeling a little light-headed. She's pale as a sheet and looks like she's going to hit the deck at any moment. We get her to put her head down and I rub her neck and try to get her to think about something else. ("Puppies and sunshine, Deb. Rainbows, butterflies, M&Ms... come on, you guys, help me out here...")
They finally take the guy out of the restaurant. In Tracy and Dad's expert medical opinion, he was having a heart attack. After the excitement is over, Deb recovers, and we all run through some relaxation techniques led by Mom. (Om...) We feel better and even manage to force ourselves to indulge in some dessert. (Remember, Zing! loves dessert. :-)) We go back to the hotel to change in preparation for the party rooms after the Showcase. We pick up Linda's stuff and bus over to the theater.
From: US8RMC::"firstname.lastname@example.org" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing!'s-eye view HI Int'l forgotten Chapters! #1 (long)
O.k., some sharp-eyed Harmonetters noticed that I never finished my account from Harmony, Inc.'s International (Doh! ;-)) and asked me to finish it. I resisted for a while, but they are a *persistent* lot, so here it is, in two parts.
Though we come into the theater and find our reserve seats are no longer reserved, we manage to sit a few rows behind the medalist quartettes and choruses. HI has this tradition that the choruses and quartettes come in from the back of the theater while we all clap. This year they are led by a bagpiper, which fits in with the Halloween theme not at all, but it's still fun. Our MC is queen Donna Johnson, who is always a hoot. We cheer for everyone and wave at our friends and get ready for a great show.
The Showcase is set up so that the fourth place quartette sings first and then the fourth place chorus, all the way up to our new queens and championship chorus. It is nice because the choruses and quartettes stay in the audience until they sing, so they get to see pretty much the whole show.
First up is fourth place quartette, Euphoria. Last year they won the award that Zing! won this year, so I told the lead that I hoped it was an omen for us to medal next year. ;-) They sing Daddy's Little Girl, which gets my parents all mushy. (O.k., O.k., I got mushy, too. ;-)) They also sing a ballad which they say is popular in Canada that I hadn't heard before, which was very lovely.
Next up are the Crystal Chords. Boy, have they been doing some good work! :-) They do their contest package and show why they deserve those green ribbons, which I believe are their first. They certainly won't be their last and we'll expecting them to move even higher in the future.
High Fidelity sings next. To my knowledge, since '94, they've been 4th, 6th, mike testers, and now 3rd. Way to bounce back, girls! :-) Back in 1995 when my old quartette, Heartsong, fell from second to fifth and High Fidelity went from 4th to 6th we had discussed starting a bowling league instead of singing. I'm sure glad none of us did! ;-) They turn in a smooth, very tight set. They handle the jazzier side of things so well.
Then our hosts, the Pride of Niagara sing. I give them so much credit for doing so well and running the convention at the same time. They do a great set and don't even look tired! :-) Next year should be very interesting, with Pride and Women of Note running neck and neck, and the Chrystal Chords not far behind. Of course the Capital Chordettes will be back as well. It should be quite a treat.
Our second place medalists, Footloose, hit the stage next. They declare themselves delighted with their red ribbons, which match everything they own, including their pajamas (though the medal leaves funny marks on your face when you sleep on it). Pam Howard, the bass, adds that they are glad they got the silver, since they dubbed last year's queens the "Teeny Weeny Queenies" for their general petiteness, it would have been bad to be followed by Footloose, the "Lumpy, Dumpy, Frumpies". ;-) They then reprise their hilarious meter parody of Love Eyes, which we all love. Their comedic timing is so perfect. Then they sing a number which is set to a classical piece about how the judges are all nice and fresh at the beginning of contest, but by the end of all the sessions they just want all the quartettes to go away. It's very funny and they handle it really well.
Our pals in Women of Note are up next and we hoot and holler for them. In honor of the Halloween theme, they sing Witchcraft, which Linda helped to choreograph. They close with Smile. Good job, girls! We're very proud, though slightly miffed that they've done so well without Tracy and Debbie and me. I mean how dare they just move on like that? ;-)
Our new queens are next. When they enter we hit our feet for an extended ovation. We all love IMAGES. We've watched them grow and improve and keep plugging. (They are the Energizer bunny of quartettes). They start with a song close to our hearts, "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart". They thank Harmony, Inc. for all the support they've received and for all the positive energy they felt from us during the contest. (No problem, girls! ;-))
The evening is capped by another great performance from Village Vocal Chords. When they perform outside of competition they wear the medals and crowns the individuals have earned in quartettes, though some people don't have enough heads for all of their crowns. (Now *there's* a problem I'd like to have...) They close their set with the fabulous Goodbye Medley (arranged by Tom Gentry) that they won the contest with. They bring down the house yet again, and deservedly so. We could watch them all night, but we sing the theme song, and then we're off to sing in the Hospitality rooms.
From: US8RMC::"email@example.com" "Shanno Wilson"
Subj: Zing!'s-eye view forgotten chapters! #2 (long)
We are wearing black jeans, white button-downs, black ties with pumpkins on them and witches hats in honor of the Halloween theme. We also spell out Zing! sequentially on our outside cheeks (I'm the "N") in face paint. The first room we find at the Sheraton belongs to the Overtones chorus. We sit for a minute and watch another quartette, Nightshade, I think. The Overtones are very welcoming and recall that we came to sing for them last year as well. We sing them a couple of tunes and then we're on our way to the next room. On our way out we run into Deb's sister Wendy and the rest of Limited Edition.
Next we're off to the Area 4 room, which is located in a ballroom and has a stage in it. We catch the tail end of a quartette's performance and then before we know it, we're being announced to sing. Singing for Area 4 is always fun, since it is home to lots of our friends, including the Heart of Indiana chorus and our new chorus champs, The Village Vocal Chords. We spy past president Lauren Lindeman in the audience and take the opportunity to goof on her a little, since she made fun of us in the Associate Members meeting. We open with Roll Out Of Bed with a Smile which goes really well, and Lauren gives us a thumbs up from the audience. Then we sing Rock a Bye Baby which is not a good choice for a big room with no sound system. It wasn't horrible, but I sort of wish we had stopped after Roll. :-/
Next we head to the rest of the hospitality rooms at the Sheraton. We see the Champlain Echoes, where we sing Rock a Bye Baby. In this more intimate setting, it goes very well. It was sort of a theater in the round experience with people everywhere, so halfway through our next song we flipped around mid-phrase to sing to the rest of the room. We neglected to consider, however, that this half-flip would put us on the opposite side of the quartette than we are used to, which had an unintentionally humorous effect on our choreography. :-/
Outside the Echoes suite we run into Music Judge, Tom Parker. We chat a bit and ask him if he has any arrangements that might be good for us. He tells us that he's currently working on one called "I'm Gonna Do What I Please" that seems like it would suit our style. (I guess we don't have many worries about our sassy attitude making it across the footlights. ;-))
We go together to the Acapella Showcase room. They are very excited to have snagged an award in their very first contest and are full of smiles. We tell them we appreciate their flair and expect big things for the future.
We wrap up the Sheraton rooms with our hostess chapter, the Pride of Niagara. They have a lovely suite on the top floor. We take the opportunity to snag some snacks since we're starving, and as you must already know, there is no bad time to have more dessert. ;-) We thank our hostesses sincerely. They've done a great job hosting and still managed to medal, which is no mean feat. They are a very warm audience and we enjoy ourselves thoroughly performing for them.
We are prepared to brave the perpetual drizzle and head back to our hotel, but then we see that there is a bus that is going there, so we hop on. Someone requests a tune from us. We notice that queens Kaleidoscope have gotten on the bus as well, so we ask if they'd sing Dream a Little Dream of Me with us. (The bass, Beth Ramsson worked with Tom Gentry on the arrangement.) Now, she's a bass, and there's a big bass solo, but I'm sure there's no correlation. ;-) It's a tad tough to maintain optimum vocal quality while bouncing up and down in a bus, but we have a blast singing with them. Jeanne, Betty, Karen, and Beth have something like 10 crowns between the 4 of them, so of course they are totally lame, but they manage to keep up with us somehow. ;-)
Back at our hotel we start to hit the remaining rooms. Some high (and low) lights: totally crapping out on a lead hanger in a tag in the Area 3 room (you know that lovely feeling when your voice comes in and out while you're trying to hold a long note, and there's just *nothing* you can do but hope the song ends soon?), watching our buds The Villagers in the Capital Chordettes room (lead Lynn Randall does a beautiful solo on What'll I Do - she's my hero! :-)) singing for a small but appreciative crowd in the Montreal room (it's around 2:30 a.m. at this point).
We're pretty tired, so we head for our last stop, which is the Women of Note room. We sing a couple, and then sit back, eat cold pizza, and watch our friends from Montreal, F.L.A.S.H. They teach the room how to do the F.L.A.S.H. salute and treat us to a couple songs. It's so nice to see these mostly teenagers having a great time singing barbershop. We also hear from another young quartette from Montreal, the Dreamcatchers. The lead has a lovely voice, and it sounds like they've been doing a lot of work since Area. We watch a Women of Note quartette, Starstruck, chat a bit with our friends and then trundle off to our room.
We are exhausted but not sleepy, so we start packing in preparation to leave in a few short hours. I take down the blinking lights and the Zing! sign from the door, which is always a little sad. We gab for a while and then hit the hay.
A few hours after our heads hit the pillows, the phone rings. We're all disoriented. You know when you're so tired that you don't immediately know whether that noise is an alarm clock, or a fire alarm, or... oh, yeah - it's a phone! I answer it and it's my parents. They didn't want to leave without saying goodbye. (It was a sweet thought, but I don't think the rest of Zing! is too thrilled.) I *think* I said goodbye and thanks for all their wonderful support, but I can't be sure, being fairly comatose at the time. I hope I did, because they've been terrific as usual. I go back to sleep briefly before the alarm gives its rude call to action.
Somehow, we drag ourselves out of bed and into the shower and get ready to face the day. (Sunglasses are *definitely* in order this morning.) We check out and go out to get loaded up. While we're waiting to go we talk to a member of a chorus from Wisconsin called Sound Celebration. They were supposed to leave by bus this morming, but the bus never showed up. After getting no answer in the bus driver's room, the hotel went in and found him dead! The original report was that he had a heart attack. Well, recently we heard that he wasn't quite dead when they found him, and he had had his skull bashed in and stuff taken. The police were pretty sure it was a transient. Apparently the bus driver was in Hamilton often enough to have a favorite hotel and didn't stay in one of the convention hotels. He supposedly knew the area really well. (I guess not well enough!) We haven't gotten any word since then to know if they caught the guy or not. I hope the chorus got home o.k. eventually!
After that sobering tale we load the car and head for Toronto. We cut it a little close getting to the plane because we forgot that one goes through U.S. Customs in Toronto and not in Boston. Oops. We were apprehensive about making our flight, but we walk right on. (Linda and I are a wreck, but Tracy thinks we timed it just perfect.. ;-))
After an uneventful flight we land in Boston. Tracy's boyfriend, Richard, is there to pick her up and we sing him Happy Birthday at the baggage claim. He's English and very reserved, but he puts up with the attention quite well, though he's not prepared for all the hugging afterward. :-)
Linda and I run out and catch the bus home, where my husband Thomas picks us up. We drop off Linda and then it's back to home sweet home. It was *quite* a weekend, and I must say, it's great to be back! :-)
Here ends this chapter of Zing!'s story. Thanks to all the folks on the Harmonet who wrote to tell me you enjoyed my tale. (Especially to you nags who finally made me finish - Master Nagger Marti Lovejoy in particular. ;-))
Zing! would like to thank my parents; Deb's parents, the Dodge's; our coaches Jim Coates, Gail Jencik, Jim Kahlke, Chris Peterson, Jeff Taylor, and Steve Tramack; and especially every single member of Harmony, Inc. We love you all! :-)
| Zing! Homepage | History & bios | Contest diaries
| Photos | Scores | Contact info |