Barber shop-style choir faces shortage of male singers

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A barbershop-style choir is combing the North East for more men.

Cleadon-based Compass Acapella says it’s a tough task recruiting male singers in the region, perhaps because it’s not seen as a ‘macho’ past-time.

But they are hoping to dispel that myth with a series of free taster sessions.

Any men aged 16 or over are invited to attend the sessions at Cleadon Academy, in Boldon Lane, to see if they can hit the high note, or see how low they can go.

Secretary Jeff Dawson said: “We are the region’s only all-male group who sing popular songs in the ‘barber shop’ style which is acapella four-part harmony.

“Unlike the more traditional male voice choirs, we have been successful in attracting a number of young singers into our ranks, our youngest is 18, but we would like to attract more.”

We know from experience that there is a lot of latent male vocal talent around the North East, but the inbuilt ‘macho Geordie thing’ seems to hold back a lot of men from getting involved, unlike women who literally flock to join community choirs.

Jeff Dawson, secretary at Compass Acapella

He added: “We know from experience that there is a lot of latent male vocal talent around the North East, but the inbuilt ‘macho Geordie thing’ seems to hold back a lot of men from getting involved, unlike women who literally flock to join community choirs.”

Jeff says no previous experience of singing is needed to join the choir.

“78% of the guys in our choir have never sung formerly before and don’t read music,” he explained. “But we have a tested method of teaching people to sing.

“Other parts of the country don’t seem to have a problem recruiting men in choirs, but we struggle here. It’s the women who seem to have more confidence about joining a choir. But once you get men over the threshold and through the door, they love it.”

The choir’s drive to recruit more men is being supported with financial assistance from The Cultural Spring, which aims to increase participation in the arts in wards in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

l Free Compass Acapella taster sessions run on Tuesdays at 7.30pm at Cleadon Academy.