Our small and mid-sized Sweet Adelines International choruses have big sounds, big hearts, and big impact.
Their directors inspire, educate, and lead with dedication, on and off the stage.
Verdugo Hills Chorus Director Tammy Ragsdale is always looking for an opportunity to learn more. Hear how the Directors Scholarship for Small and Midsized Choruses helped Tammy pursue musical excellence.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow,” says Jack Johnson, director of Cincinnati Sound Chorus. Hear why he became a Sweet Adelines director and why he’s grateful for the donors who fund the Directors Scholarship for Small and Midsized Choruses.
Hear how Na Leo Lani Director Christine Wee became a director and how the Directors Scholarship for Small and Midsized Choruses helped on her journey.
Jamy Claire Archer, Heart of Columbia Chorus (Region #14)
A member of Sweet Adelines for 12 years, Jamy Claire Archer has directed Heart of Columbus Chorus for seven years. “Being a director allows me to share my passion for education and vocal health with singers so they can participate in this organization across their lifespan,” she says. Jamy shared a poignant story about how directing a special song helped her heal. “Over the Rainbow was the last song my cousin sang with me before she passed away in childhood, so it was a sad memory until my chorus won our first Most Improved Award singing this ballad.”
Candice Basset, Piney Hills Harmony Chorus (Region #10)
Candice Bassett is a 13-year member of Sweet Adelines and has been a musical director for six and a half of those years. For almost two years, she has directed Piney Hills Harmony Chorus. She previously sang with Southern Acappella Sound Chorus, Twin City Sensations Chorus, and Top of the Rock Chorus. She sings baritone for Forte! Quartet. Candice credits the inspiration of other Sweet Adelines directors, education, and events as well as an inherent thirst for knowledge for motivating her to become a director.
Gayle Burton, Sound of Sunshine Chorus (Region #9)
Gayle Burton says she was inspired to direct by a teacher. “After meeting Jim Casey as my voice teacher, I was inspired to teach. He told me he was going to help me find the person inside me, and he did. I went back to University for a second bachelor's degree, this time in music. After becoming a high school choir director, I truly found my love: teaching. Being a director of a barbershop chorus brings together my two greatest passions.” Gayle has been a Sweet Adeline for over thirty years, eight of them as director, and four of those with Sound of Sunshine Chorus.
Sally Burton, Chesapeake Harmony Chorus (Region #19)
A 13-year member of Sweet Adelines International, Sally Burton became a director “to keep us together during and after the pandemic.” She has led her beloved Chesapeake Harmony Chorus for three years. Not surprisingly, given her dedication to strengthening the bonds of her chorus, Sally says her favorite song to direct is It’s the Music That Brings Us Together by Clay Hine.
Amy Fleming, High Desert Harmony Chorus (Region #12)
Amy Fleming is a charter member of High Desert Harmony Chorus, which she joined when she was in high school. She continued singing and competing in choruses and quartets during her time living out of state, and when she returned to Reno, Nevada, High Desert Harmony had just launched a director search. Amy says, “I knew I wanted to stay with Sweet Adelines, so I seized the opportunity! I have been motivated by examples of exceptional leadership and seeking an environment where I can inspire others to love this as much as I do!”
C. Lee Hays, ChannelAire Chorus (Region #11)
“I was educated to teach Physical Education, and my first job after college was as a Tennis Professional,” says Lee Hays, director of ChannelAire Chorus and member of Carpe Diem Chorus. The thrill of teaching is what led this 36-year Sweet Adeline to 14 years of directing: “There is nothing in the world like the thrill of getting just one person to learn something new. You either hear or see that lightbulb light up when you stand in front of your chorus.”
Tori Hicks, Midwest Crossroad Chorus (Region #3)
Master Director Tori Hicks is a 30-year veteran of Midwest Crossroad Chorus. She served as assistant director and choreographer for the chorus for her first ten years as a member but stepped out of the ranks in January of 1997 to become the front line director, leading the chorus to numerous regional championships and International Competition appearances. In addition to directing the Midwest Crossroad Chorus, Tori has sung in numerous accomplished quartets.
Kim Higdon, Bridges of Harmony Chorus (Pros.) (Region #9)
A 15-year member of Sweet Adelines International, Master Director 600 Kim Higdon has been a director for 11 years, five of them with Bridges of Harmony Chorus (Pros.), which she helped found in 2017. Asked about her motivation for becoming a director, Kim says, “I was very excited about the opportunity to be creative and express myself musically.” Kim has also competed in the International Quartet Contest.
Charlotte Hoffman, Lone Star Chorus (Region #10)
Charlotte Hoffman served as director of Lone Star Chorus from 1998-2007, and as co-director since 2014. Charlotte says, “I have always enjoyed directing and felt I was good at it.” She has been a member of Sweet Adelines International for over 45 years, helping lead the chorus to several appearances on the International stage.
Jack Johnson, Cincinnati Sound Chorus (Region #4)
“I became a SA director because I wanted the challenge of learning a new genre of music,” says Jack Johnson, who has directed Cincinnati Sound Chorus (CSC) for the last year and a half. “I sought out CCS because I wanted a local chorus that wanted growth and desired to accomplish many levels of achievement.” Recently, Jack led CSC to a second-place finish in the 2022 Region #4 AA Division competition, fourth place overall.
Jo-Anne Killips, Rhythm of the Rockies Chorus (Region #26)
Oh, Look At Me Now is one of Jo-Anne Killips’ favorite songs to direct, and the sentiment could describe her barbershop career as well. For thirty years, Jo-Anne has been a Sweet Adeline, working in various roles including as a choreographer and on the management and music teams. She began directing Rhythm of the Rockies two years ago. She says, “I love to learn and teach, and directing combines the two.”
Jill McLeod, Southern Accord Chorus (Region #26)
There are several reasons 32-year member Jill McLeod of Southern Accord Chorus decided to become a director. It was something on her “bucket list,” for one. “I found myself ‘hearing’ more of the chorus and wanting to contribute to our improvement,” she says. “I thought my experience as a singer and training through the Director Certification Program could bring positive things to our chorus, and I was assistant director for the chorus for ten years. When our director retired two years ago, it seemed like becoming a director was the next step for the chorus and for me.”
Mary Beth McMurray, Crescent City Sound Chorus (Region #10)
When 47-year Sweet Adelines member Mary Beth McMurray’s chorus director moved away, she stepped up to help. “I had a degree in Vocal Music Education and was working on a Master’s degree,” she says. “They asked me to be the director. I agreed!” For 21 years, she directed Baton Rouge Chorus, and for the last ten years, she has directed Crescent City Sound. On the Crescent City website, the chorus writes that Mary Beth “inspires us to reach new heights with each performance.”
Kimberly Newcomb, Capital City Chorus (Region #4)
Kimberly Newcomb has been a Sweet Adeline for 15 energetic, busy years. She sings baritone with 2023 International Champion Quartet The Ladies, has a degree in music education, taught in the public schools for two years, then started her own business, NewVoice Studio, where she makes learning tracks, teaches voice lessons, and coaches ensembles. Four years ago, a move to a new state led her to direct Capital City Chorus. Kimberly says directing SA song How We Sang Today is special to her. “I am a very technical-minded musician, and sometimes it's hard for me to get to the heart of a song, but with How We Sang Today, the meaning of the words are interwoven through my personal experience in this organization and I am reminded of all the Sweet Adelines who have had a huge impact on who I am today each time I direct that song.”
Charlene O’Connor, Voices Northwest Chorus (Region #13)
A 43-year member of Sweet Adelines International, Charlene O’Connor stepped up when she saw a need. “Voices Northwest Chorus was without a director,” she says. “With no directing skills, I offered to direct through regionals.” Ten years later, she is still directing Voices Northwest! On their website, the chorus writes, “With all her experience, knowledge and expertise, Charlene continuously comes to our rehearsals prepared to guide us through our musical journey with positive ideas, thoughts, and direction. Charlene’s passion for barbershop harmony is demonstrated in all she does and shares. Her love of the Sweet Adelines organization is contagious!”
Rosemary Olas, Show Me Sound Chorus (Region #5)
When a chorus member asked Rosemary Olas if she would consider directing after the previous director had resigned, Rosemary said yes. “I've always loved a challenge and decided to give it a try,” she says. A 20-year member of Sweet Adelines International, Rosemary has been directing Show Me Sound Chorus for five years now.
Rachel Pack, Jet Cities Chorus (Region #13)
Rachel Pack was in sixth grade when her choir teacher asked her to lead her section, resulting in her choosing a career as a choir director. “I fell in love with creating music with many voices,” she says. “I knew when I was 17 that I wanted to direct a Sweet Adelines chorus when I watched Jet Cities Chorus perform and to got to talk to several members afterward. They were so skilled and kind!” Rachel has been a member of Sweet Adelines for nine and a half years, and she has spent the last three and a half of them living her dream – directing Jet Cities Chorus!
Lynn Pauls, Valley Echoes Chorus (Region #26)
Lynn Pauls began the Directors Certification Program to become a better section leader, but the more she learned, the more she wanted to learn. “My Directors at that time, Charlie Metzger and Sean Huston, supported me, encouraged me, and taught me so much,” she says. “I saw the joy on faces as the chorus members understood something and the ‘lights came on.’ I discovered I could encourage and teach my chorus not just to sing but to love their audience with their music. The more I learn, the more I love directing.” A 12-year member of Sweet Adelines International, Lynn has directed Echo Valley Chorus for over four years.
Tammy Ragsdale, Verdugo Hills Chorus (Region #11)
A 41-year member of Sweet Adelines International, Tammy Ragsdale is Master Director of Verdugo Hills Chorus. She also sings tenor with Eclectic Mix quartet. On the chorus website, Tammy writes of barbershop music, “We create a feeling like no other when our voices join together in song and ring those awesome chords. It's something a musical instrument simply can't do!...We're getting creative with ways to encourage new membership. There are so many singers out there with no place to sing. It's our job to find them and give them the opportunity to sing!"
Rajkumar Samaroo, Antelope Valley Showcase Chorus (Region #11)
It was the music that brought Rajkuma Samaroo to barbershop directing. “I love the sweet sounds of a cappella singing,” he says. “Barbershop style singing gives me goosebumps.” He has been a director for 37 years, three of them with Antelope Valley Showcase Chorus.
Carol Smolenski, Merrimack Valley A Cappella Chorus (Region #1)
I have always enjoyed the opportunity and privilege to teach, coach and guide others in order to help them find, expand and express their true voices,” says Carol Smolenski. A 28-year member of Sweet Adelines International, she has been co-directing Merrimack Valley Chorus for a year and a half. She says, “My co-director and I have the exciting task of leading our chorus out of these crazy pandemic times and toward a new, vibrant future of musical excellence!”
Carol Thompson, Great Lakes Harmony Chorus (Region #3)
Carol Thompson has been a Sweet Adeline for over 40 years, 25 of those as a director. For eleven years, she has been the director of Great Lakes Harmony Chorus. She says, “While I love to sing, I also love to create the music and build singers. The joy of experiencing the total journey with others is what keeps me motivated. And, I want to create that for the singers also.”
Beth Watkins, Katy Vocal Express Chorus (Region #10)
A 24-year member of Sweet Adelines International, Beth Watkins has been a director for ten years. Her directing career has led to the founding of her current chorus. “I was directing a Young Women In Harmony (YWIH) Chorus and wanted to enhance my skills so I started the Director Certification Program,” she says. “In 2016 I saw a need for a chorus in West Houston (Texas), so I organized the Katy Vocal Express.”
Jill Watson, Grand Traverse Show Chorus (Region #2)
Jill Watson has been a Sweet Adeline for 20 years, but she wasn’t always a director. “Out of the blue, LeAnn Hazlett, Master Director of Spirit of Detroit, asked me to direct ‘Sweet Adeline’ when I sang one year with her chorus to attend International with them,” Jill recalls. “I had never directed before. Afterward, she said I had a knack for it! So I was inspired and signed up for Directors Certification Program. She has now been directing Grand Traverse Show Chorus for ten years. Thank goodness for great mentors!
Christine Wee, Na Leo Lani Chorus (Region #12)
Christine Wee has directed Na Leo Lani Chorus for eight of her 24 years as a Sweet Adeline, having started out as interim director for a regional competition. She says, “My favorite song that I’ve directed for Sweet Adelines was These Islands. It was specially arranged for our chorus, and we sang it at our regional contest in 2015. The inspiration for this song came from my learning how to dance the hula to it five years prior. It soon grew to represent who we are as a chorus – the beauty and uniqueness of where we live, the aloha spirit that we share wherever we go and wherever we are, and the power and fragility of our island home. What makes this song unique is that each of our four parts takes over as the melody, with the rest of the parts soaring above and supporting below. Whenever we sing this song, we are reminded of who we are and who we want to be.”
Patty Weeks, Cape Shore Chorus (Region #19)
“I wanted to teach singers to explore the artistry of the music they were performing and tell stories with their sound,” says Patty Weeks of her decision to become a director. An 18-year member of Sweet Adelines International, she has been the director of Cape Shore Chorus for eight years.
Rhonda Williams, Royal River Chorus (Region #1)
Rhonda Williams has been a Sweet Adeline for 32 years, and served as an assistant director for 26 years. When the chorus director of 30 years retired before the pandemic, it was time to put all that knowledge front and center. Rhonda says it was the, "best decision ever." Rhonda's favorite song to direct is America The Beautiful/God Bless America arranged by Tedda Lippincott. She says, "Having two children join the service, one in Marines and one in Navy, this was especially moving for me."
Gifts to the scholarship fund provide opportunities for our members to participate in advanced training to develop skills as chorus directors, arrangers, judges, and international faculty and support scholarship opportunities for college students majoring in music education, vocal pedagogy or music composition.