Barbershop Harmony Society


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Barbershop Harmony Society
Official Barbershop Harmony Society logo
Official Barbershop Harmony Society logo
Background information
Also known asSociety for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc.
OriginTulsa, Oklahoma
GenresA cappella
Barbershop music
Years active1938–present
Members22,000 (2015)[1]

The Barbershop Harmony Society, legally and historically named the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. (SPEBSQSA), is the first of several organizations to promote and preserve barbershop music as an art form. Founded by Owen C. Cash and Rupert I. Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1938,[2] the organization quickly grew, promoting barbershop harmony among men of all ages. As of 2014, just under 23,000 men in the United States and Canada were members of this organization whose focus is on a cappella music. The international headquarters was in Kenosha, Wisconsin for fifty years before moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 2007. In June 2018, the society announced it would allow women to join as full members.

A parallel women's singing organization, Sweet Adelines International (SAI) was founded in 1945. A second women's barbershop harmony organization, Harmony, Incorporated, broke from SAI in 1959 over an issue of racial exclusion,[3] with SAI (like SPEBSQSA and many other organizations) being white-only at that time; SPEBSQSA officially lifted the requirement in 1963.[4] Several international affiliate organizations, in countries around the world, add their own flavor to the signature sound of barbershop harmony.

  1. ^ "2015 Annual Report" (PDF). Barbershop Harmony Society. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  2. ^ Hicks, Val J. (1988), Heritage of Harmony New Past Press, ISBN 0-938627-04-X, p. 14
  3. ^ Averill, Gage (2003), Four Parts: No Waiting, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-511672-0, p. 132: "Sweet Adelines had no black members, and no one was aware of any black singers who had petitioned to join the organization. Still, the board argued that there had always been tacit agreement about racial exclusion and it was time to formalize this policy...."
  4. ^ Gadkar-Wilcox, Wynn (March 2015). "Article understated the extent of past racism" (PDF). The Harmonizer. p. 4. Retrieved June 2, 2016. exclusion of African-Americans from Society—officially until 1963

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