Updated: Apr 3
Written by: CSD Director of Marketing, Michael Pommier
They earned multiple standing ovations during the weekend, however, the last one was the most special. When Central States District (CSD) Director of Contest and Judging announced on Saturday, March 19, 2022, that The Ladies are the first women’s quartet to qualify for the Barbershop Harmony Society’s (BHS) International quartet contest, Quincie Snook (Tenor), Caroline Beal (Lead), Kim Newcomb (Bari), and Ashley Rohovit (Bass) were enveloped by about 200 barbershoppers celebrating their historic achievement.
“When people stood up as it was announced we had made history, I think we were all in shock at the love and support from everyone in that room,” said Beal.
The Ladies hearing that they've qualified for the 2022 Barbershop Harmony Society's International Quartet Contest in Charlotte, N.C. at the CSD Fall Convention in Wichita, Kan.
In early February 2022, the news broke that the BHS Board of Directors unanimously voted to open its annual international contest to all quartets and choruses, without gender distinctions. This came after eight months of discussions and seeking feedback from the membership and is the next step following the announcement in 2018 which opened membership in the society to all genders.
The Ladies said that it is an amazing feeling to be the first women’s quartet to qualify for BHS’s international contest, however, they don’t believe they will be the only women’s quartet to qualify this year.
“This is something we have dreamed about for a long time and it is incredible to have the opportunity to compete alongside our longtime friends in BHS,” Beal said. “There are many non-male quartets who are going to crush it in the next few months and we are so excited to cheer them on too!”
As with any history-making decision, there was some strong support as well as strong opposition to the decision to have a gender-neutral contest … something that was not lost on The Ladies as they entered their first BHS contest.
“I will say that with any new experience, we were a little nervous, especially knowing that there is some opposition to EiH [Everyone in Harmony] out there,” Beal said. “However, that nervousness quickly dissipated as everyone was so welcoming and went out of their way to make sure we knew we were supported.”
While The Ladies represent the Southwestern District, they chose to compete in the CSD International Prelims because it was the only weekend where all four members were available. They were grateful to have been welcomed with open arms and ears.
“This weekend was phenomenal. Each person we spoke with made us feel like we belonged and were so kind. We had fun competing, tagging all night, and meeting new people. We certainly didn't expect the amount of connection we would experience,” Beal said. “We are so thankful as our experience with CSD was really special and we will never forget it.”
Having never competed in a BHS contest, The Ladies didn’t have any expectations coming into the convention weekend. Beal said that they typically focus on their artistic progress and strive to be their personal best leading up to a competition.
“Every time we perform our goal is to make art that connects with the audience and honors the music,” Beal said. “We also had never been judged by a BHS panel, so we had no idea how our performance would score.”
The Ladies (left to right, Kim Newcomb, Caroline Beal, Ashley Rohovit, and Quincie Snook) performing during their semi-finals set on their way to becoming the first women's quartet to qualify for the Barbershop Harmony Society's International Quartet Contest.
During their set in the awards presentation, Beal giggled with excitement and shared with the audience that the quartet had just experienced their first judge evaluation. After the competition, every competing quartet and chorus have the opportunity to meet with a few of the judges from the panel to get some one-on-one feedback from their performance, something they had not experienced in their Sweet Adelines International (SAI) competitions.
“I think we were lucky that our first eval experience was with David McEachern and Stefanie Schmidt,” Beal said. “We got really helpful feedback on our performance technique and are ready to implement what we practiced in our rehearsals. The whole thing was just fun and we learned a lot from them.”
The Ladies have been together since 2015 when they competed in and won the SAI Rising Star competition in Auckland, New Zealand. Following their success, they began growing together as a quartet and friends. They performed in various shows, taught at camps, and gave presentations on barbershop singing at educational events. In 2018, The Ladies competed in the SAI International Contest in St. Louis, Mo. (winning Region 10 along the way) and finished in 9th place. The following year, they competed again, this time in New Orleans, La., and placed 5th. As successful as they have been, they never let it get in the way of their bond with each other and their mission to spread barbershop wherever they can.
“While we love competing, it really is a vehicle for us to spend time and make music together,” Beal said. “Being long distance can be challenging at times, but we are thankful for all the opportunities we get to hang out as friends, perform, lead camps, and make barbershop memories!”
The Ladies will compete in the 2022 BHS International Quartet Contest in Charlotte, N.C., July 3-10, 2022. Beal said that they plan to continue to compete in both SAI and BHS, work with youth at harmony camps, sing on shows, and spend time together as friends.
“We have renewed energy going into this year and are happy to have these opportunities to sing and connect with others again,” Beal said.
The Ladies also had some advice for any other women’s and/or all-voice quartets out there thinking about competing on the BHS contest stage.
“Take the leap and try it out,” Beal said. “It can feel scary to do something unknown. We have been there and are supporting you at every step of the journey.”
The CSD fall convention will be held October 6-9, 2022, in Lawrence, Kan. and will crown a District Men’s Champion, Women’s Champion, All-Voice Champion, and Overall Champion in the quartet contest as well as the international chorus prelims and all district chorus championships.
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