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Honorary Members

Honorary Members

Of the Barbershop Harmony Society

Over the years the Society has been privileged to extend honorary memberships to these famous friends of barbershop harmony. (Biographical content courtesy Wikipedia.org.)

The Honorary Membership is presented to those who have had a significant impact on Barbershop or a cappella singing – as well as those individuals or groups who, through their celebrity, bring positive attention and awareness of the Barbershop Harmony Society. For recommendations, submissions, or comments, please send an email to the committee at honorary@barbershop.org.

Mike Rowe, 2017

A barbershop singer and fan, Mike credits his show business career in part to the influence of his high school choir director, Fred King, who also happened to be a world champion barbershop quartet singer. (Read Mike’s touching memorial tribute to Fred, or listen to him tell the story.) Under Fred’s encouragement, Mike became a Barbershopper, later sang in the Baltimore Opera, and eventually earned his title as “the dirtiest man on television” (Dirty Jobs, Somebody’s Gotta Do It,) narrator (The Deadliest Catch) and podcaster (The Way I Heard It.)

 
 

The Fairfield Four, 2016

Fairfield Four

Founded 95 years ago at Nashville’s Fairfield Baptist Church, The Fairfield Four have won multiple Grammy Awards, most recently Best Gospel album in 2016, and as part of the soundtrack for the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? The Fairfield Four are also recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Award. Levert Allison, Larrice Byrd Sr., Bobbye Sherrell, and Joe Thompson comprise the Nashville-based quartet.

“The great continuing legacy of The Fairfield Four is an inspiration and a great model for us all,” said Society CEO Marty Monson. “Their music moves us on a spiritual level, and also as an example of the power of singing to build communities.”

The aca-godfather. Founder of the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America, music director of  the Pitch Perfect movies, star of the Pitch Slapped docuseries on Lifetime, vocalist, teacher… and those are just the things you can see. Deke Sharon might be the single most visible, vocal and persuasive advocate for the joy of singing in the  public eye today. And by the way — he loves barbershop, which he describes as “a cappella’s martial art.” 

Watch these videos to fully understand the passion this extraordinary man has for unleashing the universal desire to make music. 

Lynn Abbott, 2015

Tulane University scholar Lynn Abbott’s groundbreaking research into the African-American roots of barbershop harmony led to his recognition as an Honorary Life Member of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Abbott has authored numerous books and scholarly articles, including “Play That Barber Shop Chord: A Case for the African-American Origin of Barbershop Harmony” (1992), that represent a fundamental shift in understanding our musical roots toward a broader, richer background than the mythological white men in small town America. “Lynn Abbott’s treatise leaves no doubt that though the phenomenon of barbershop harmony was eventually woven into the fabric of America’s culture across race and class barriers, the African-American harmonizers were most likely the primary sources of our music, and also gave us the word barbershop,” said Society Historian David Wright in presenting the award. 

Read Lynn Abbott’s groundbreaking paper online (free registration required) at bit.ly/barbershopchordabbott

 

The Nylons are an a cappella group founded in 1978 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Best known for their covers of The Turtles’ “Happy Together”, Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”, and The Tokens’ version of the traditional “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

With seven gold and platinum recordings and over three million albums sold, this four- member vocal group is one of Canada’s top international success stories – they have become a global institution and a legend in the world of vocal music. The group has performed over 1000 concerts in dozens of tours worldwide including Japan, Korea, China, Australia, Europe, Brazil, the US, and Canada. Learn more on their Facebook page.

Country, Gospel, PopThe Oak Ridge Boys are a country and gospel group that is based in the United States. The group was founded in 1945 as the Oak Ridge Quartet. They became popular during the 1950s. Their name was changed to the Oak Ridge Boys in the early 1960s, and they remained a gospel-oriented group until the mid 1970s, when they changed their image and concentrated more on country and pop music. The band’s current lineup consists of lead singer and second tenor Duane Allen, baritone William Lee Golden, tenor Joe Bonsall, and bass Richard Sterban. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Gospel musician, winner of multiple Grammy and Dove awardsBill Gaither is an American singer and songwriter of southern gospel and Contemporary Christian music. He has written numerous popular Christian songs with his wife, Gloria. Besides performing solo and with his wife, Gaither has appeared as part of the Bill Gaither Trio, the Gaither Vocal Band, and as a part of his “Homecoming” groups. Bill and Gloria still live in Indiana and have three grown children. Read more on wikipedia.org

Listen to a conversation with Bill Gaither and Todd Wilson (MP3 format, 27 MB)

Gordon Lightfoot, 2006

singer, songwriterGordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr., CC, O.Ont (born November 17, 1938) is a Canadian singer and songwriter who has achieved international success in folk, country, and popular music. As a singer-songwriter, he came to prominence in the 1960s, and entered the international music charts in the 1970s with songs such as “If You Could Read My Mind” (1970), “Sundown” (1974), “Carefree Highway” (1974), “Rainy Day People” (1975), and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (1976). Read more on wikipedia.org.

Gene Puerling, 2004

The Hi-Los and Singers Unlimited(March 31, 1929 – March 25, 2008) was a vocal performer and vocal arranger. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Puerling created and led the vocal groups The Hi-Lo’s and The Singers Unlimited. He was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices in 1982 for his arrangement of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” (as performed by The Manhattan Transfer). He died just shy of his 79th birthday. His vocal arrangements and chord structures were classic and instantly recognizable. In addition to the Hi-Lo’s and The Singers Unlimited he contributed to Rosemary Clooney’s TV Show and mentored many other singers and groups, including Take 6. His vocal arranging ability and his ability to arrange musical backing by Frank Comstock’s Band and several others was masterful. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Bob Flanigan, 2003

The Four Freshmen(August 22, 1926 – May 15, 2011) was an American tenor vocalist and founding member of The Four Freshmen, a jazz vocal group. Flanigan, a respected trombonist, also played bass with the outfit for several decades, beginning on September 20, 1948, and sang the top part. After retiring from performing in 1992, Flanigan maintained the band’s name and was responsible for the group’s changing cast of performers. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Sherrill Milnes, 2002

Operatic Baritone(born January 10, 1935) is an American operatic baritone most famous for his Verdi roles. From 1965 until 1997 he was associated with the Metropolitan Opera.

His voice is a high dramatic baritone, combining good legato with an incisive rhythmic style; furthermore, he has a commanding and handsome stage presence. By 1965 had made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera. His international debuts followed soon thereafter, and Milnes became one of the world’s prominent Verdi baritones of the 1970s and 80s.

He has been a prolific recording artist, often in partnership with Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Dick Van Dyke, 1999




Dick Van Dyke singing a song with Metropolis.

Television and film actor (born December 13, 1925) is an American actor, presenter and entertainer, with a career spanning six decades. He is best known for his starring roles in Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bye Bye Birdie (film), The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis: Murder.

Van Dyke starred in a popular situation comedy called The Dick Van Dyke Show, from 1961 to 1966 in which he played a comedy writer named Rob Petrie. Complementing Van Dyke was a veteran cast of talented comedic actors including Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Jerry Paris, Carl Reiner (as Alan Brady), as well as a newcomer to television Mary Tyler Moore, who played Rob’s wife Laura Petrie. He won three Emmy Awards and the series received four Emmy Awards as outstanding comedy series. From 1971 to 1974, Van Dyke starred in an unrelated sitcom called The New Dick Van Dyke Show in which he portrayed a local television talk show host. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Jim Pike, 1996

The LettermenJim Pike was raised in the state of Idaho with his two brothers, Donny Pike and Gary Pike. He started his professional career at the age of 4 singing with his fathers radio band, “Russ Pike and the Prairie Knights”. At the beginning of each program, he would sing “God Bless America”. He graduated from Idaho Falls High School in 1954. His continuing desire to sing progressed when he did his version of an Al Jolson song before his class mates at IF High. Pike headed to BYU in Provo, Utah where he met Bob Engemann (another singer). Jim and Bob were later joined by Tony Butala and they formed “The Lettermen”. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Jerold Ottley, 1996

director, Mormon Tabernacle ChoirJerold Ottley was music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from 1974 to 1999. His duties with the choir included the preparation and performance of nearly thirteen hundred weekly radio and television broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word. He also led the choir in more than thirty commercial recordings and more than twenty major tours in addition to regular concerts in the choir’s home in the Salt lake tabernacle. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Victor Borge, 1995

musician, entertainer, showmanVictor Borge (pronounced [ˈborgə] “BOR-guh”; January 3, 1909 – December 23, 2000), born Børge Rosenbaum, was a Danish comedian, conductor and pianist, affectionately known as the Clown Prince of Denmark and the Great Dane. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Bill Hanna, 1991

Creator of the FlintstonesWilliam Denby “Bill” Hanna (July 14, 1910 – March 22, 2001) was an influential American animator, director, producer, television director, television producer, and cartoon artist, whose movie and television cartoon characters entertained millions of fans worldwide for much of the twentieth century. When he was a young child, Hanna’s family moved frequently, but they settled in Compton, California by 1919. There, Hanna became an Eagle Scout. He briefly attended college but dropped out at the onset of the Great Depression. Read more on wikipedia.org.

The Osmond Brothers, 1986



Preteen quartet, Pop music starsThe Osmonds are an American family music group with a long and varied career that took them from singing barbershop music as children, to achieving success as teen-music idols, to producing a hit television show, and to continued success as solo and group performers. The Osmonds are devout Mormons, and their religious values have had a tremendous effect on their careers.

The group originally consisted of brothers Alan Osmond, Wayne Osmond, Merrill Osmond, and Jay Osmond. They were later joined by younger siblings Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond, and Jimmy Osmond. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Mitch Miller, 1985

Orchestra leaderMitch Miller (born Mitchell William Miller, July 4, 1911) is an American musician, singer, conductor, record producer, A&R man and record company executive. He was one of the most influential figures in American popular music during the 1950s and early 1960s, both as the head of Artists & Repertoire at Columbia Records and as a best-selling recording artist. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Fred Waring, 1994

Choral conductor, leader of the PennsylvaniansFredrick Malcolm Waring (June 9, 1900 – July 29, 1984) was a popular musician, bandleader and radio-television personality, sometimes referred to as “America’s Singing Master” and “The Man Who Taught America How to Sing.” He was also a promoter, financial backer and namesake of the Waring Blendor, the first modern electric blender on the market. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Arthur Godfrey, 1960

Radio and television personalityArthur Morton Leo Godfrey (August 31, 1903 – March 16, 1983) was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead. No television personality of the 1950s enjoyed more clout or fame than Godfrey until an on-camera incident undermined his folksy image and triggered a gradual decline; the then-ubiquitous Godfrey helmed two CBS-TV weekly series and a daily 90-minute television mid-morning show through most of the decade but by the early 1960s found himself reduced to hosting an occasional TV special. Arguably the most prominent of the medium’s early master commercial pitchmen, he was strongly identified with one of his many sponsors, Lipton Tea. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Meredith Willson, 1959

Author and composer of The Music ManRobert Meredith Willson (May 18, 1902 – June 15, 1984) was an American composer, songwriter, conductor and playwright, known for writing the book, music and lyrics for the hit Broadway musical The Music Man, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1958. The cast recording of The Music Man won the first Grammy Award given for best cast album, and its 1962 film adaptation was a success. Read more on wikipedia.org.

Irving Berlin, 1959

Prolific composerIrving Berlin (May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was a Jewish American composer and lyricist, and one of the most prolific American songwriters in history. Berlin was one of the few Tin Pan Alley/Broadway songwriters who wrote both lyrics and music for his songs. Although he never learned to read music beyond a rudimentary level, with the help of various uncredited musical assistants or collaborators, he eventually composed nearly 1,000 songs. Among his many compositions were “God Bless America”, “Cheek To Cheek”, “White Christmas”, “Anything You Can Do”, “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, and the 1911 song that made him a household name, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” all of which left an indelible mark on music and culture worldwide. He composed seventeen film scores and twenty-one Broadway scores. Read more on wikipedia.org.
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