Watch & Listen Member Center / Docs Shop

The Background of Music: History, Research, and Choosing Non-Problematic Music • Inclusion in Barbershop Series

Panelists share stories of exclusion and inclusion within the barbershop community as it relates to the music we sing.

Panelists Maria Christian, Ashley Conway, Jim Henry, Kevin Keller (moderator), Richard Lewellen, Debra Lynn, and David Wright will discuss some of the hardest questions that face our barbershop community today as they dive into how the music we sing represents us and the ways our audiences perceive and react to the songs we sing.

What are a few main takeaways?

  • Don’t ask first, research! Start with the most basic google search for the sheet music cover, the original lyrics, and arranger history. There are also deeper research options available in the further reading section on the definitions sheet here!
  • Know your why. Identify your ensemble’s core values and ask yourself, “Does this music fit our values? Are we aligning all of our music to those values?” Asking yourself this can be an effective way to audit your repertoire of any problematic content. Sure, maybe that piece has a great tag at the end, but does its message and perception align to our values?
  • Listen to each other. When someone brings up reasons why a song is problematic, be willing to hear them out and have humility about singing that music. It’s human to fail because we only know what we know, but we can all do better when we’ve been informed.
  • Assume good intent, but interrupt spontaneous singing when the songs are offensive. Use the opportunity to educate others and advocate for those who can’t speak up.

Watch the Recorded Webinar

If you would like to make a $5+ donation to support ongoing free content like the Inclusion in Barbershop Series from the Barbershop Harmony Society, you can do that here:

Contact us

For any questions, additional information, ideas, or to further support Barbershop Harmony Society inclusion efforts, please contact