When Rich Hansen and Matt Trusner (though they now sing with Bloomington, both started their barbershop experience with Coles County more than 15 years ago) heard that we were singing “Friends” on our show, they came up with this picture and interesting story. It is a most beautiful piece of music and ironically it is arranged by David Wright, who himself had his first barbershop experience with the Coles County Chorus in the early 1970’s. The words and music were written by famous Christian recording artist, Michael W. Smith and his wife Debbie.
Here is the story as related by Matt Trusner:
Since I am a huge fan of Michael W. Smith, I had VIP tickets for a MWS concert at Tabernacle Baptist in Decatur, Il. I had the opportunity to attend and meet/greet him before the concert. During the Q & A session, I told him that I was in a barbershop quartet and that we would love to sing “Friends” for him. He said he never heard a barbershop quartet version of that song and that he would love to hear it.
During intermission, his manager approached me and told me to get the guys ready to sing backstage. After warming up for a few minutes, MWS came in and we sang “Friends” for him. After we were finished, he said we did a great job and that he really liked the arrangement. He said, ‘Ooooh, a barbershop quartet throwing some jazz chords in there. I like it.’
When a person who has sold 13 million records (14 gold albums and 5 platinum albums), received 3 Grammy Awards and 40 Dove Awards, and has recorded 29 #1 songs tells you that he likes your performance, it just makes you feel good. He was a great listener and 100% genuine. Yes, he could tell we weren’t professional singers, but that didn’t matter to him. I’ve met a ton of celebrities and he’s one of the good ones. Matt
Here is a photo of Sound Opportunity quartet with MWS standing in the middle. Clay Martin is at left, and at far right is Jim Waldorf (substitute tenor).
BE STRONG AND OF GOOD COURAGE
Only a very few people who read this will have ever heard of Dick Brownfield, much less have met him. He was the Pastor at the Wesley United Methodist Church (Charleston, IL) in the early 1970’s. He died two weeks ago.
In his mid 40’s, he was rather heavy and had bad knees from old football injuries, so he started walking, dieting and jogging in the EIU “Run For Your Life” program. Within five years, he jogged in a 20-mile church sponsored fund raiser for the poor/hungry in Bangladesh. Shortly thereafter, he climbed Long’s Peak (14,259’ above sea level) in Colorado.
Borrowing from a scripture verse (Isaiah 53:3) , Dick was “acquainted” with grief. His son, Dick and daughter Sue, died before reaching age 30 (accident and cancer). He loved music but had some hearing difficulties…what did he do? He joined the Coles County Chorus (in the center of the photo above). The final words from the pastor speaking at his Memorial Service in Decatur last week were, “Be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:9). Good advice for all of us.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Two of the quartets from the chorus were busy over the weekend. Keyless did a 45-minute performance in Arthur, IL at the annual Strawberry Jam Festival. They didn’t wear this attire, but the smiling faces were the same…and the people wanted more. Needles to say, Steve Blucker has sold show tickets to everyone in town.
Some 150 miles to the west, in Peoria, Ringtime performed in a fund raising show. After Hours, the Illinois District Representative to the International Quartet Contest and feature quartet on the CCC Show in three days, sang a program designed to help them raise some funding for their upcoming trip to Portland. Peoria was a natural site, since all four men attended Bradley University in that city.
The concert was a great success…raising nearly $2,500 to help with their costly venture. This is how Ringtime looked in their recent 4th place (highest ever finish for a CCC quartet) finish at the International Prelims in Washington, IL.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON DELIGHT … ALL IN THE FAMILY
Preparing for the upcoming show, a chapter foursome decided to include their lady friends and a few youngsters in a Sunday afternoon practice and social in the Charleston home of Ron and Sue Leathers. The ladies didn’t mind watching the children while the men practiced in another room. They finished with refreshments and a performance for an appreciative audience.
The singers (l to r) are Gary Hawker, Ron Leathers, Eric Brucker and Ken Hull. In front are: Sherry George, Aly Brucker and 10 week old Jake Brucker (held by Sue Leathers). Mrs. Kate Brucker holds daughter, Tessa, who holds her own baby.
Three dozen guys put final touches on show stuff last night. James Tidwell, was the only front row guy missing and he had a good excuse…he was in Washington, DC acting as a “guardian” for his father (WWII vet) on an Honor Flight out of Oklahoma.
Jim Roll had been in California visiting his two week old granddaughter, but flew into O’Hare by early afternoon, then drove to Mattoon for a 5 PM quartet practice and a 3 hour chorus rehearsal. No doubt he slept well last night.
Raymond Turner (now a U of I student), picked up his 6 year membership card and he’ll have a special surprise for the audience at the show. Patron income is nearly $6,200 and about 75 % of the auditorium is sold out for the show.
Lefty Bryden, a WW II veterans and long time faithful CCC member will not be singing in this show. It will be the first one he has missed for decades. However he showed up with his WW II Veterans Hat (he was at Pearl Harbor) and ended up reviewing a historic newspaper brought in by Phil Martin (at the right). Phil had family in WW I and his old Decatur Herald newspaper (dated November 11, 1918) proclaims the close of WW I.
It seemed appropriate for well liked “Lefty” to direct “Keep the Whole World Singing” at the end of our meeting. Here, standing in the middle of the front row, he is surrounded by some very special friends….the CCC.
JUNE 7, 2012 7 PM Thursday Extra and Final Show Rehearsal at First Presbyterian Church in Mattoon (Bring your hats! — Ed.)
JUNE 9, 2012 SATURDAY ANNUAL SHOW at Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL
4 PM Show at Dvorak Hall
Guests: The Charleston High School Girls Quartet, After Hours Illinois District Champs (2010) and International Semi-Finalist. The Sound of Illinois (Bloomington Chorus) 2012 Illinois Chorus Champs will also appear on the show. Some show tickets will be available at the door.
JUNE 12th thru JULY 31st GUEST NIGHTS Bring a friend….expose him to the CCC and our Musical Fellowship
JULY 3rd – 7th INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION AND CONTEST Portland, Oregon
Pharmacist and CCC Baritone Section Leader Dave Clausing, says you may have trouble finding this item in your local drug store, but he may be able to get you some, if it will help you sing better.