would Valentines Day be without the sound of the Valley Voices
ringing throughout the Moab area? The practice of serenading
loved ones on this special day was adopted almost 25 years
ago by this group of dedicated women singers, and has continued
uninterrupted ever since. Over the years, other traditional
performances by the Valley Voices have called for diverse
repertories. For example, the Veterans Day memorial service
with its patriotic program, and Christmas carols for the lighting
of the community tree, the Arts and Crafts Fair, and programs
for Allen Memorial Hospital's extended care patients. These
special ladies also entertain at the annual Seekhaven fund
raiser with select love songs, and offer appropriate music
as well for affairs such as engagement parties, wedding anniversaries,
birthday bashes and even funerals. Actually, this busy band
of women have been bringing enjoyment to the community with
their singing for more than a quarter of a century.
A Little History: The origin of the Valley Voices dates back
to 1975 when, under the urging of Moab music teacher Doreen
Crossland, a small group of men and women would get together
at someone's house to sing songs around a piano. They sang
in mixed four-part harmony - soprano, alto, tenor and bass
- with accompaniment. Little by little, however, the number
of men dwindled to nothing; accompanists, who opted to sing
rather than play, became scarce; and the group's existence
was threatened. At about that time, they learned of an organization
comprised entirely of women who sang four-part harmony in
the "Barbershop" style, a cappella, or unaccompanied.
Sweet Adelines International made some sheet music available
so the little group started to acquaint themselves with this
unique singing mode. It caught on and the resultant enthusiasm
traveled by word of mouth, attracting more adherents. Soon,
the group, still under Mrs. Crossland's direction, with the
assistance of some devoted followers, grew in number and formed
an organized club, complete with a panel of officers, and
a set meeting place and rehearsal time.
In 1978 the group adopted the name Valley Voices and the following
year the 12 members made their performing debut at the Statehood
celebration on the Moab Museum lawn. Soon, they were being
sought out to entertain at civic and social club gatherings,
sorority luncheons, conventions, and other community affairs,
as well as for private parties.
In 1982, Mrs. Crossland retired to California and the director's
shoes were filled by Joyce Parry, under whom the chorus gradually
swelled to 28 singers. Finally, on December 1, 1984, at a
formal ceremony in Star Hall, the Valley Voices were presented
with a Charter as a fully-accepted member of Sweet Adelines
International. Now their work was really cut out for them.
Under full membership, attendance at regional competitions
became mandatory at least every three years, so rehearsals
were held religiously each week, much of the time spent perfecting
the two songs chosen for competition purposes. Yard sales
were held to raise money for transportation to such Sweet
Adeline convention venues as Colorado Springs, Denver and
Salt Lake City. The Voices faithfully attended the annual
three-day workshop at the beautiful mountain resort of Estes
Park, Colorado, which offered cream-of-the-crop instructors
and directors, and prize-winning quartettes as models to emulate.
All the while, the chorus officers regularly conformed with
the exacting administrative demands of the international organization.
Five years after joining the Sweet Adelines and reaping the
many benefits offered, the Valley Voices' membership had fallen
below the numbers required by the international organization
and the group was compelled to drop out. Disappointing though
this was, it did relieve the group of many obligations, both
financial and occupational. Besides, the move motivated the
group to concentrate more on entertaining at local affairs,
which has been their chief impetus ever since. Now the group
could spend more energy on the musical product while, at the
same time, dress appropriately and tastefully. The handsome
outfits of red fleece jackets, black turtleneck shirts and
black pants make for a perfect attire when singing for Veterans
Day, Christmas or Valentines Day. For indoor or evening affairs,
silky multi-colored blouses and black pants make ideal dress-up
outfits. The chorus also has denim skirts and attractive self-designed
vests for Western performances.
Members buy their own costumes, or have them made, or inherit
them from outgoing members. A special committee sees that
everyone is taken care of for clothes and accessories such
as scarves, corsages, etc.
Over the years the membership of the Valley Voices has been
comprised of women of diverse backgrounds and interests. But
the cosmopolitan mix of the membership can lend to disappointment
in the form of attrition, a constant concern, so recruitment
is always in progress in order to keep the four singing parts
in proper balance. In their attempts to interest new members,
the Voices like to stress that one need not be able to read
music to sing Barbershop, although this kind of knowledge
would be an advantage. Nor are there auditions or any stringent
requirements of newcomers, just a love of harmonizing.
About Barbershop: Normally thought of as a medium for male
singers, the Barbershop-style lends itself quite well to women's
voices, although the musical arrangement, originally written
for men, requires modification to achieve the most pleasing
delivery. For the uninitiated, Barbershop is harmony in which
the four parts - tenor, lead, baritone and bass - are written
as very close-together notes which, incidentally, makes such
chords impossible to be played as a keyboard composition.
Sometimes these four notes will blend so successfully as to
create a fifth note, an "overtone" which gives the
impressionable thrill to the listener. This is known as the
"goosebump factor." The better the singing, the
higher the factor.
Singing this close harmony requires a discerning tonal ear,
an ability to memorize lyrics, and a willingness to follow
directions which sometimes call for rather unique interpretation.
Paramount in this type of musical rendition are the louds
and softs, known as dynamics, variations in speed, unusual
groupings of lyrics, and the essential blending of voices
with a minimum of vibrato. These hallmarks give the Barbershop
harmony its unmistakable identity, as well as afford a distinct
challenge to the participant -- and extreme enjoyment to the
Traditionally, Barbershop music relies heavily on subjects
of southern sentimentality and the even more saccharine sweet
songs about mother, or Mammy. Although these customs are respected
by the Valley Voices and representative pieces can be found
in their repertory, a few members, with the help of their
friend Doreen Crossland, are now trying their hand at writing
their own arrangements, using a computerized music-writing
program to update some of the old favorites to better suit
The Valley Voices meet to "harmonize the world"
every Monday evening at 7:00 o'clock in the Balsley Hall of
the Community Church. Interested parties may call Mary Mayberry,
259-5767, or Terby Barnes, 259-6700.