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Barbershop changed my life — on many levels

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Dennis Gillis was inspired to write this after reading the article by Wil Snuffin that appeared in the March/April edition of The Harmonizer. Dennis sings with the Cape Breton (N.S.) Chordsmen.

Thanks to the article, “Never forget what it was like to discover bbshop!”, the urge to respond was overwhelming!

I can relate to Wil Snuffin’s article about his love affair with barbershop on several levels. It has really made me think about my introduction to barbershop and the impact that introduction has made upon my life.

I’ve been told I have a great performance face. These kind of comments garner me my fair share of ribbing from my fellow barbershoppers, especially when the songs call for that certain look of love. “Easy for him,” they say, “he really is in love.” They are not wrong; but they seem to think this love is for my fiancée, and that is not entirely true.

I am getting married this autumn to a woman who is the best thing to happen to my life since barbershop. In many ways, it is because of barbershop that I am even getting married at all.

About three years ago, I was in a pretty low place in my life; dissatisfied with my job, where I was living and very down about love. A relationship that was going nowhere for all parties concerned was striving to put an end to my caring about anything. Even community and church activities seemed to lose their appeal. I was toes over a precipice of pity and gloom.

Then two chance encounters, one with an old acquaintance of mine the other with an associate of my father, happened in the same week. Both these fine gentlemen asked if I wasn’t doing anything important, if I would consider coming to a meeting of the Cape Breton Chordsmen and see what they are all about.

It seemed so strange that two people I had assumed had no relation to each other should both invite me to the same place and time; for curiosities sake alone, how could I possibly refuse that invitation?

I went with absolutely no expectations. I was greeted warmly by all of the faces there, I recognized a few as former work colleagues of my father, and I was left completely unprepared for what happened next; there was this sound, and everything changed inside of me.

I was hooked on this sound. It created a feeling in me that I didn’t want to end. And then, it was time to go. I couldn’t believe it was over. I didn’t want it to be over.

The next Monday night couldn’t come fast enough, and it was also over too soon. Like Wil, I too would spend the days between Mondays in anticipation of 7 p.m. and the trip to the risers.

The weeks continued in this fashion and I found my outlook changing, and my self-confidence returning. I took steps to secure a new job and a place to live (coincidentally, both job and home were no more than a block away from the chapter’s rehearsal space). I even began to date again.

I wasn’t looking for love; I didn’t think I needed it. I had barbershop harmonies in my life. Those chords gave me all really needed. I was happy with my life for the first time I could remember since adulthood. It was then I started seeing Jade.

It was such a subtle thing I really didn’t notice it at first; I got the same feelings around Jade as when I sing barbershop. The chord was locked. I knew I had to marry her.

So, yes, gentlemen, it is easy for me because I am in love. I was in love since that first Monday night and falling for barbershop has let me love again.

I am member 509192 and my love of barbershop harmony has made me aspire to be a better man. Thank you.

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