CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If your Valentine was sent to you via a group of singing women dressed in sequins, it was probably the Almost Heaven Chorus, and there's more where that came from.
The Almost Heaven Chorus -- West Virignia's chapter of the international women's organization Sweet Adelines -- performs at competitions across the country, but locally, sings at birthday parties and retirement homes. The group also might come to you as surprises in the form of a singing Christmas card or birthday-gram -- in person or over the phone, depending on your gifter's request.
"People are usually very touched by it," said Theresa Eakin, the chorus' president. "It's a wonderful network of women, and it's a lot of fun."
The chorus is made up of about 20 women, with the youngest in her 20s and the oldest in her 90s, Eakin said. A few of the current members were even in the original group that was established in the 1970's.
The four-part a capella harmony group sings a combination of upbeat songs and ballads and puts "a refreshing alternative to classical music."
But there's more than just performance to the group -- it's about education and preserving an art form, Eakin said.
"It's all about education of barbershop singing and that this kind of singing is an art form. We're hoping to educate younger people so it's not lost," she said.
That's why the Almost Heaven Chorus has plans to develop more of a youth program to recruit a younger generation of barbershop-style singers.
You don't have to be professionally trained to become a member, said Eakin, who has been part of the chorus for six years.
"I wasn't always a singer -- I wouldn't have called myself a singer," she said. "I don't read music; I learn by ear. It's nice if you can read music, but we don't require it to join. Some singers are very good -- we're all from different walks of life and it's a nice hobby."
"It's a lot of fun once you learn," Eakin said.
For more information on the Almost Heaven Chorus, call 304-925-SING or visit www.almostheavenchours.com.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.