I still count the day I saw my dad perform with Vocal Majority in Philly years ago as one of the best in my life.
It probably has a lot to do with the fact that my sister holds the Daddy’s Girl title and it’s a rarity to spend a full day together, just me and him. But it was also hard not to get amped up sitting in a sea of almost 10,000 fans at the Barbershop Harmony Society International Convention. The crowd was electric.
When the 100-plus men of Vocal Majority were introduced that day in 2010, the name “Jim Clancy” echoed throughout the convention hall, everyone nudging one another and pointing to the stage. It was Clancy’s last time to lead the chorus for an international competition. The music director is a legend in vocal harmony circles. (Even if you’re not in the circles, you probably recognize his voice as the “Westway Ford” bass.) In true Dallas fashion, their performance included fog machines, gymnastics, and sequined vests—the flashiest of the day, without a doubt.
After my dad’s performance, he and I got ice cream, walked blocks to peek at the Liberty Bell through a window, and grabbed a beer. And maybe it was the Yeungling that got to me, but when we returned to the convention and watched the Toronto Northern Lights sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as forlorn robots working in a factory, I couldn’t stop the tears from running down my cheeks. Yeah, robots. You just never know how a harmony will hit you.
And word on the street (i.e. my dad’s texts and the group’s Facebook page) is that Jim Clancy’s latest arrangement of “Danny Boy” is a bonafide tearjerker. In fact, the ballad helped Vocal Majority earn a 95 percent, the highest score ever recorded in the history of the Barbershop Harmony Society district competitions, at the Southwestern District competition on Saturday.
The win means Vocal Majority go to yet another international competition in Las Vegas this July, but if you’d like to see what it’s all about without heading to Sin City, check out their Christmas shows at the Eisemann Center the first four days of December. They usually sell out well in advance.
Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself publicly sobbing during the performance, billed as “A Hilarious Christmas Eve Stranded at the Airport.” I recommend having a drink on hand to blame it on.
[Note: This post was modified to reflect an error pointed out in the comments. The 95 percent score was not the highest score ever recorded in the history of BHS as my father told me, but rather, the highest score recorded at the district level. Geeeeeeeez, Dad. Quit embarrassing me in front of all my readers!]