“Many people’s image of barbershop harmony is men singing with straw hats and striped vests, and women in red gingham dresses,” says Patty Friedemann, assistant director of Talk of Tulsa Show Chorus. “Today’s barbershop singers have evolved to be master vocalists who entertain their audiences with a variety of songs and high-energy choreography.”
Friedemann’s husband, Frank, is master director of Talk of Tulsa, a 62-member women’s chorus. The pair started the singing group in 2000. Since winning first-place, small chorus, in March 2003, Talk of Tulsa has medaled every year at its regional contest and has placed as high as 12th at international competition.
The chorus’ members, who range in age from 20 to 80, also belong to Tulsa-based Sweet Adelines International, a 75-year-old association of more than 20,000 a cappella women singers.
Though traditional four-part harmony is the cornerstone of the barbershop genre, Talk of Tulsa’s performances often have a modern spin. In the past the group has incorporated beatboxing and even cartwheels. “It’s a lot of fun and very entertaining,” Friedemann says.