Talk of Tulsa Show Entertains
By R. COLE PERRYMAN
TALK OF THE TOWN: The Talk of Tulsa Show Chorus , a 17-woman a capella group that sings in four part harmony, the traditional barbershop style, has won various regional awards for their singing talents. Groups this small are usually considered underdogs when competing with larger ensembles, but their talents have not gone unnoticed.
Courtesy Janie Benuzzi
It’s true: size doesn’t matter. Just ask Janie Benuzzi, vocal specialist and team leader for the Talk of Tulsa Show Chorus, a 17-woman a capella group that sings in four-part harmony, the traditional barbershop style.
“We sing gospel, jazz, band tunes and some popular songs. We really sing a variety of music and even have fully choreographed numbers,” Benuzzi says.
The group is a member of Sweet Adeline’s International, a worldwide women’s barbershop organization consisting of some 27,000 members committed to perpetuating the musical genre through education, live performances and competitions.
Each year, Sweet Adeline’s International hosts various competitions to award groups considered to be outstanding in their region, and each year since its inception, the Talk of Tulsa Show Chorus has left its mark on the competition.
“We are considered a small chorus,” explains Benuzzi, “and every time we have competed– which has been the past 4 years–we have medaled. That is something that a chorus our size has never done before.”
Considering that the largest ensemble in the group’s five-state region, which numbers 165 and includes parts of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri, the small, 17-member group must always be on top of its game.
“We really work toward making the most out of the individual voice,” says Benuzzi. “When you’re as small as we are, it’s impossible to hide mistakes.”
Not that there are any. Talk of Tulsa Show Chorus director Frank Friedmann and his wife, assistant director Patty Friedmann, make sure of that. Intensive practices and scrupulous audition standards ensure that all of the women’s voices are among the best in the state.
When the group isn’t busy competing, they keep their voices tight and strong through annual public performances, weekly practice sessions and performing at private events.
“We love to perform and we are for hire,” says Benuzzi, who continues to explain the “peak seasons” when a capella singers are in high demand.
“We were so busy last Christmas we could hardly speak by the time the season was over,” says Benuzzi.
Valentine’s Day, no surprise, is another busy time for the group. “We have quartets that go out and sing songs, and we’re usually run ragged by the time the day is done,” she explains. “It’s a lot of fun to see people’s different reactions when you go into their office or school to sing for them.”
Talk of Tulsa Show Chorus’ annual performance is a wonderful opportunity to not only enjoy one of the regions most regarded barbershop groups, but also to give back to the community as well.
This year’s performance is scheduled for Nov. 18 at Monte Cassino School, 2206 S. Lewis Ave., and as in years past a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit a local charity. The Little Lighthouse, the Make a Wish Foundation, Blue Star Mothers and Crisis Pregnancy Outreach are among those who have benefited from the mellifluous voices of the members of the Talk of Tulsa Show Chorus.
As if preparing for the upcoming show wasn’t enough, the group is also working in the studio on the production of a new album, scheduled to debut at the show in November.
“We’ve had two recording sessions so far and are hopeful it will be available for the show,” says Benuzzi.
Cuts to be featured on the album envelop a variety of musical genres, and include songs like ‘Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy,’ ‘Spiritual Medley,’ ‘Runnin’ Wild’ and of course the ever-popular hits ‘You are My Sunshine’ and ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight.’
“It’s just a real cross section of music,” Benuzzi explains.
“We accept women of all ages above the age of 14,” Benuzzi says, and although the group’s average age is around 42, current members’ ages range from 17 to 68. “We audition potential singers mainly through word of mouth, though our members seem to be the best recruiters.”
To audition, hopeful talents must attend at least three rehearsals, held every Monday at Christ Church, 10901 S. Yale Ave., at 7 p.m. When the group feels that the person is ready to audition, or if they feel prepared themselves, they are auditioned by the Talk of Tulsa music team and, if they do well, they are offered a membership.
“We absolutely love what we do; we live our music and anyone who loves music, loves to sing and do some dancing along with it should give us a call and come by and see us,” Benuzzi says.
Rehearsals are open to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they intend to audition for a membership. However it is recommended that one calls ahead to ensure the practice has not been canceled for a holiday or other special occasion.
For more information on Talk of Tulsa, visit the website at www.talkoftulsa.org, or call Janie Benuzzi at 451-5751.