Wildfire, a quartet with members from Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, beat out 19 other young quartets from around the world to capture the Next Generation Barbershop Varsity Quartet Contest Wednesday evening in Salt Lake City. The contest was held at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 81st annual convention.
Singing Ray Charles’ soul classic “Hallelujah, How I Love Her So” and the country-flavored “Between You And The Birds And The Bees and Cupid,” the quartet posted A-level scores comparable to those in the open division contest, which opened on Tuesday. This was the second year in competition for Wildfire, which last year finished in third place.
Wildfire consists of:
- Caleb Hayes, tenor
- Stephen Goldman, lead
- Harrison Cooke, baritone
- Kevin Mendez, bass
As champion, the quartet earns bragging rights, notoriety, and a springboard to the big contest, which has increasingly been dominated by past college champions, and offshore quartets such as recent champs Musical Island Boys, hailing from New Zealand.
The top five youth quartets were, in order:
- Wildfire, 1453 points, 80.7%
- Backline, 1431 points, 79.5%
- City Limits, 1414 points, 78.6%
- Eclectones, 1398 points, 77.7%
- The Last Drop, 1387 points, 77.1%
The youth contest is the first championship awarded in a week of shows, contests and education for more than 5,000 guests from around the world. For full events and schedule, see www.barbershop.org/saltlakecity