Published: Dec 27, 2012 09:49 AM
Modified: Dec 27, 2012 09:50 AM
CARY - Annette Jasper and Debbie Mickunas of Cary belted out “Heartache Tonight” and “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” while dressed as princesses who want to be rock stars.
Jasper and Mickunas, along with 29 other Triangle women who make up the Carolina Harmony Chorus, earned first place among small choruses at the Sweet Adelines International Chorus Competition in Denver last month.
Jasper, who has been with Carolina Harmony for 20 years, headed up a team to get the group to the Harmony Classic.
Mickunas served as choreographer and costume designer for the group. She has participated in some form of Sweet Adelines since the late 1980s and has been with Carolina Harmony for the past three years.
Both women said the barbershop harmony and expressive performance style work well with a range of ages. They hope to attract more members this year and grow the group for the next attempt at the top title in two years. Q: Have you competed in the international competition before? How hard is it to prepare?
Annette Jasper: In 2006, we placed fifth out of five. We were just learning. Two years ago, we were invited to the 2010 internationals and got second place in Seattle. By April 2011, we qualified for Denver.
Debbie Mickunas: It’s a team effort. It’s about the unit. About nine months ago, my sister, Susie Smith, who is the director, came up with four songs that she wanted to use for our 15-minute package. We had to decide how to connect the four songs and how we could please the judges and the audience.
Most of us are not script writers or costume designers. But we find new skills within ourselves. We think about who is good with one-line zingers, who is good at dancing and visuals. Q: What draws singers to your group?
AJ: A lot of us grew up singing in choruses in high school. We have a wide variety of ages, and we hope to get new members with that same range.
We sing a lot of different things, from pop from the ’40s to standard barbershop to modern-day pop. When we sang “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, I remembered it from being younger. The younger members recognized it from “Glee.”
DM: My background is musical theater. I was a dancer in high school. I love the showmanship angle of Carolina Harmony. I couldn’t ask for a better group of women to be a part of. We laugh and sing and grow together.
And after going to internationals, it’s such an honor to be singled out. For a short period of time, we are the best in the world. Q: What is the time commitment involved, and what are some of the other performances you give throughout the year?
AJ: We meet once a week, and the board meets once a month. The music staff meets once a month.
DM: When we get closer to competitions, I offer outside choreography rehearsals. I work with individuals if they need it. Sometimes we joke that we’re the grown-up “Glee.”
AJ: As far as other performances, we perform every year at the Race for the Cure, cheering and singing “We Are Family” in the home stretch. We do Christmas shows, and in 2013, we will put on a show in October because we are not allowed to compete in internationals for two years.
On Valentine’s Day, we send out quartets. People hire us to come out to sing at work, restaurants, car dealerships, malls, dentist offices and schools.
DM: We sing “Valentunes.” We sing two songs and deliver some kind of goody.
One time, we went into a gym, and five guys came up to us afterwards and wanted a Valentune delivered to their girlfriends. When we deliver one to some older people, they get tears in their eyes. It’s wonderful.