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Benchmark Finishes In Top 10 in Australia’s Got Talent

With “voices like warm honey and hearts of gold”, to quote one of the judges, senior quartet Benchmark from Queensland, Australia (AAMBS) overcame serious personal struggles and made it all the way to the top 10 on in the August 2nd Grand Finale of “Australia’s Got Talent.” Tenor Paul Roussell, lead Derek Cosburn, bass Tom Percy and baritone Ray Smyth began this journey of the heart in early June when they performed “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in the first heat of this contest, garnering a standing ovation not only from the audience but also from the judges. The standing ovations continued through their next three performances, with high praise from the judges about the barbershop style, their vocal talents and showmanship. At one point, one of the judges said “You’re a boy band”! Ray replied, “Oh, no, we’re a man band”, which brought both applause and laughter all around.

This is an accomplishment that was almost cut short. Midway through the contest, they received the shattering news that Tom had been diagnosed with lymphoma for the second time, and he had to start radiation therapy immediately. The side effects on his voice and his stamina almost caused them to scratch just before the semi-final. But Tom rallied for his mates and they dedicated their last song This Is the Moment to all the contestants that made it to the finals. The winner of the contest and the $250,000 grand prize was a 14-year-old tow-headed singer-songwriter, who of course had tremendous appeal.

Paul summed up Benchmark’s feelings about the experience with these words: “Even though we didn’t win, Benchmark has done what they originally set out to do, and that was to let the Australian people know that singing a cappella music in the barbershop style is cool!” Take some time to watch the following videos of their performances, and you’ll know that is true. Alexander’s Rag Time Bandhttp://tinyurl.com/3qckjnu; Sweet Georgia Brownhttp://tinyurl.com/4ytfacu; I’ve Been Working on the Railroadhttp://tinyurl.com/3z2ocag; This Is the Momenthttp://tinyurl.com/3zrmsb8. The judges were obviously enthralled with the barbershop sound, Benchmark’s showmanship and the bond that these guys had throughout the competition.

“Just to be in the top 10 out of more than 3000 acts that auditioned is a great result, and we got barbershop in front of about 2.5 million people. Our goal is to stimulate all ages into getting off their lounge chairs and participating in a local chapter. We would like to acknowledge the wonderful support we received from Mike Donnelly and otherss in AAMBS, as well as members of Sweet Adelines here in Australia”, said Paul.

Benchmark formed in 2008 and competed in the Senior Quartet Contest both in Tampa and Las Vegas. http://www.benchmarkfour.com/ | www.facebook.com/benchmarkfour

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