That is a motto Wanda Olson, director of the all-women barbershop chorus Nickel City Sound, lives by. The 50-member group is an award-winning competitive four-part a cappella group that has been harmonizing since 1996. The original group called the Deltones, started by Dell Edwards in 1982, eventually grew to become Nickel City Sound.
“What attracted me way back then was the harmonizing. When everything is gelling, when it locks, it’s beautiful!” says Olson.
The four parts, or sections, each have their own role. The melody section leads, the tenor harmonizes above the melody, the bass sings the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritone completes the chord, usually below the melody. In addition to great harmonizing, the singers wear flashy costumes and add choreography to enhance their performance. Members don’t have to be able to read music, although it can help. Olson decided early that she did not want this group to be known just as the “little group up north,” and set out to develop a chorus that sang their very best every time.
Nickel City Sound has won numerous awards that she attributes to good organization. Members share the work including assigning section leads who listen during rehearsals and competitions for ways to improve. Margaret Hallett, who has been around since the Deltones, sings bass. “We have a lot of fun in that section,” says Hallett. These women have become some of her closest friends. Aside from competitions, the group often entertains at various events in the city and is well known for its Christmas concerts.
When Terry Moss, an elementary school principle, joined last year, It didn’t take long for her to realize that she loved singing and actually has a good voice. The group meets once a week and, when Moss arrives after a long day at school, tired and needing to get some balance, she finds it when she sings with the group. She also admits she likes the competing.
“I’m a tad competitive,” says Moss with a grin, “I like the thrill, the adrenaline of competing too.” Although it can be nerve wracking in competitions because they rehearse lonh hours for just a few minutes of singing, the singers don’t seem to mind. “The hard work pays off because we keep winning our competitions and that’s a great feeling,” said Hallett.
Nickel City Sound is a member of the international organization Harmony Inc.. Harmonyt organizes competitions among the 80 chapters in the United States and Canada. Barbershop groups exist all over the world and Nickel City Sound has had the opportunity to compete among groups from Ireland, Germany and England. They attend two competitions every year, an area contest in May, and the intentional contest in November. This year they are competing in Orlando, Florida. Nickel City Sound is available to perform as a chorus or smaller ensembles at special events. For more information, phone 705.662.6206 or visit the website nickelcitysound.ca.