Ali Jack LABBS Long Service Award
Celebrating 35 Years of LABBS Membership – One of Fascinating Rhythm’s founding members, Ali Jack, has reached the incredible milestone of being a member of the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS) for 35 years!
LABBS has recognised Ali’s dedication to barbershop singing with a long-service award badge and certificate presented to Ali at home by her partner, Pete. Although Fascinating Rhythm was not able to celebrate with them in person, we did raise our virtual glasses to toast Ali’s amazing achievement during our annual awards and AGM on Zoom.
Ali is a central member of Fascinating Rhythm – quite literally, as she stands right in the middle of the risers on the back row! She is our Chorus Manager, a fabulous section leader for our Tenors, and always ready to keep us in tune with her pitch pipe.
We asked Ali to share some reflections on her barbershop journey…
How did you get started with singing barbershop?
“I grew up in a musical family, singing with my mum and sisters. Mum played the piano, and the four of us would sing together in harmony. My sisters sang Soprano, and I sang Alto.
Then, I sang in a trio/four with friends from the local church, making up harmonies with guitar accompaniment. I also sang in a local choir, and a lady from the choir introduced us to four-part harmony by sharing an arrangement of the traditional barbershop standard “The Story of the Rose (Heart Of My Heart)”. She encouraged us to audition for the Bristol-based barbershop chorus AvonBelles (now known as Avon Harmony). Three of us (me, Donna and Claire) joined AvonBelles, where I became the Baritone section leader and sang with them for about ten years.
Through AvonBelles, Donna and I set up a barbershop quartet. We were three Baritones and a Bass, so I agreed to try out a different voice part, and that’s how I started singing Tenor!”
How did Fascinating Rhythm get started?
“Donna and I were looking for a new challenge, so we started to meet with a group of like-minded singers in the back room of a pub in Chipping Sodbury. We called ourselves ‘Rainbow’ because one of the ladies in the group said, ‘singing is like a rainbow, giving you hope because there’s always a pot of gold at the end’.
After a while, we decided to change our name because there was another group in the area called Rainbow, so we drew suggestions out of a hat, and the winner was Fascinating Rhythm!”
What is your best LABBS moment?
“I’ve sung with lots of quartets and groups, but the best moment was definitely winning the Gold medal at LABBS Convention with Havoc.
Donna and I had sung in a quartet, which had folded when we met Linda (Musical Director of the Great Western Chorus), who introduced us to Jo (who is now Fascinating Rhythm’s Musical Director ). We practised in my house, and our first ‘performance’ was to my lodger (at the time), who thought we sounded quite good.
As Havoc, we entered the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers annual Convention 2003 and won! From there, we were encouraged to join LABBS, and we went on to win the Bronze medal (2005), Silver (2006) and Gold (2007)!
In our ‘Gold Year, ’ we were so lucky to represent LABBS at the USA International Convention at Anaheim, got to meet Dick Van Dyke, and we even sang at Disneyland.”
What has been your favourite Fascinating Rhythm moment so far?
“The first time Fascinating Rhythm went to LABBS Convention, we took part in the ad hoc Sunday morning show which was a fun moment. We did a comedy skit called “What a Load of Nunsense” where we dressed as nuns and sang “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?” and “Eidelweiss” from “The Sound of Music”. Thelma made our costumes!
I feel so proud when I sit out and see how the chorus has grown in numbers and what we have achieved over the years from just five of us getting together for a sing.”
What have you missed most about singing over the past year?
“For me, singing is about feeling the music and being part of it. I like being in the middle of the back row on the risers and hearing the sound all around me.
I also like it at Convention when people are queueing up for food, and someone starts a song and then everyone joins in. Singing is something that is available to everyone.”
And finally, what are you most looking forward to about getting back to rehearsals?
“I’m looking forward to hearing the sound, Fascinating Rhythm makes. It will be emotional to hear the harmony. My favourite chorus song is “And So It Goes”, which my partner Pete arranged for us. I am looking forward to hearing that song again.
And I’m looking forward to hugging my Fascinating Rhythm friends (once it’s safe to do so).”
Thanks, Ali, and congratulations on your Long Service Award! Celebrating 35 Years of LABBS Membership. We are so proud of you and cannot wait to get back on the risers with you!