If there’s anything Susan Kegley knows, it’s how to put on a foot-stomping, good show. That’s the least you can expect of this Renton resident who is also director of Pacific Sound Chorus, a mid-size women’s barbershop chorus.
The chorus, with members from all of over the Puget Sound area, were in Las Vegas earlier this week to perform in the Harmony Classic division of the Sweet Adelines International chorus competition.
“This is ‘Glee’ for adults,” Kegley said, citing the Fox television show about glee clubs. “We’re into teaching women how to sing properly and sing in the barbershop style.”
Kegley has been directing the nearly 60-member chorus since 2007, and has taken the group to the international competitions in 2010 and 2014.
Though she shad a long-standing love affair with a capella music, Kegley wasn’t introduced to barbershop singing until 1980 when a friend invited her to join Sound Cities Chapter in Everett.
“I was hooked. I joined right there,” she said.
Kegley grew up in a musical household. Her mother was a concert violinist and her grandmother taught her how to play the piano. She was immersed in choirs and theater all throughout high school and college, but didn’t have a singing outlet since she graduated.
Watching her friend perform in the chorus reignited a passion within her. She said she knew there and then that she was made to sing.
“I’ve been in a chorus ever since,” she said.
Kegley sang briefly with the Pacific Sound Chorus — as one of the founding members nonetheless — before she moved to San Diego for a decade. But when the former director of the chorus retired, she found her way back to the Seattle area in 2007 and has been rocking the stage ever since.
Currently, the chorus includes women who are in their late-20s to mid-80s.
“They’re from all walks of life,” she said. “Some are teachers, some are store keepers, some are nurses, some are librarians, some are accountants, some are stay-at-home moms… but they love singing. It’s a diverse bunch of ladies.”
Much like Kegley, the group loves a put on a good show. For one of this year’s performances, the chorus prepared an a capella Broadway number.
“We’ve made it into what I guess you can call an act,” Kegley said. “We call it ‘Villains Academy Makeover Program.’ We are presenting a complete, scripted 15-minute program that includes the Evil Queen, Snow White, all of these villains from comics or Disney. We’re all dressed as some sort of a villain… There is dialogue conversation and a storyline.”
The performance is complete with festive costumes, dramatic makeup, striking choreography and, of course, impeccable vocals.
Pacific Sound Chorus isn’t the kind of choir that stands stiff on risers and reads music off of binders, Kegley explained. The chorus, much like the other ones that performed at the competition in Las Vegas, involve movement, dancing and bright, sequenced costumes. Fun is a crucial element.
“We include most genres,” said Kegley on the sort of music the chorus likes to perform. “We don’t do a lot of rap music, but we have taken ‘Winter Wonderland’ one year and rapped it. We try to include something for everyone.”
Apart from taking on the role as frontline director of the chorus, Kegley is also a part of a quartet called ‘Yahtzee!’ in which she sings bass.
The chorus performs all over the Puget Sound area. For more information about the chorus and their performance schedule, visit www.pacificsound.org.