Category: Uncategorized

What’s Good?

Hey, folks! HALO has been up to some things and it’s been a while since we’ve shared stories, so if you wanna hear ’em, here they go-   GIGS! Back in February, HALO sang on the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweeps contest at The Birchmere! It was a fun day and a fun crowd. A little birdie maaay have told us that…

Session 5- We Shall Overcome

A few days prior to our last session, having earlier provided learning tracks to aid everyone’s practice, I called upon the participants who would be willing to arrive a little early to share some reflections and thoughts with me that we could record for a promotional video. (Yes, a cute 5 minute promo through the graces of smartphone technology and…

Race and #RealTalk Session 4

Voices in Vulnerability           About a year and a half ago, I was commissioned by my now brother in law to orchestrate a romantic proposal for my sister. With our shared vision for a shared presence in our musical heritage through HALO as an organization, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to bring together the…

Race and #RealTalk Session 3

Cognitive Dissonance to Social Harmony?    It took about a full 5 days to reflect on our third session, which took a couple of twists and turns into some uncharted territory. With Niambi away in Halifax for Harmony, Inc’s International Contest and Convention (where she shared with Bella Nova Chorus in taking 4th place!), HALO called upon some ringers to…

Race and #RealTalk- Session 2

There’s a famous line from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” I don’t have  a succinct parallel for this quote, but I think it’s safe to say that if you build it and they come at 9 o’clock in the morning, you’ve got something good. We greeted a slightly larger group yesterday morning, joined this time…

Race and #RealTalk- Session 1



Yesterday, the ladies of HALO began the journey of implementing our vision for using the Barbershop listening and singing experience as a metaphor to guide us in having productive dialogue on issues of race relations in the United States. I imagine you’re familiar with that feeling one gets when “the moment” is finally there before you, and fate is ready to test your dream. And it was time to get a glimpse into whether what seemed sound in theory and looked good on paper actually played out as hoped in reality.

We were relieved to have dispelled the first concern– attendance. Frederick isn’t exactly the hottest spot of the DMV and 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning isn’t the most popular meeting time for anyone, save church-goers. And they’re usually in church. Nonetheless, a gathering of about 30 attendees– singers, non-singers, and a handful of beloved barbershoppers– were there, ready to dive into the experience. So we dove into a 9 am rendition of David Wright’s arrangement of “I Got Rhythm” to get us all in the spirit, and off we went into the work.

We set off to explain the style of barbershop and the metaphor we hoped to serve us in this effort. Then, having shared our theory, we invited the group to join us in singing a tag– a barbershop tradition that helps break all manner of walls and ice between and among strangers by singing together. The tag we sang finishes the song which we will work on to present at the end of this particular program, “We Shall Overcome.” (You may have reacted to this song choice– hold on to that for later…)

After our tag, we broke into 4 small groups. Each person was provided a worksheet with our “Who Am I?” exercise, whereby everyone identified and shared a handful of basic attributes (age, gender, place of birth, education, ethnicity, etc.) that contribute to their sense of identity. HALO participated as well, each of us designated to one of the groups.Each group was given a topic to discuss, with a set of prompts to guide their discussion on the topic. Upon our large group reflection, it was clear that many different perspectives had intersected–even with some dissonance from time to time. But stories were shared and thoughts were provoked in some unexpected ways for several of the participants– including ourselves!

HALO concluded the session with our arrangement from Deke Sharon of Beyonce’s “Halo,” hoping to leave everyone with more of a sense of what we’re striving for in this effort (even though it’s not technically barbershop). Not just a love song in the Hip Hop genre, the song for us speaks to seeking insight into our interconnectedness that we might continue to be compelled to actually do the work we’ll need to do to break down the walls that would “shut you out.” We didn’t get to share this significance with the group, but if we’re doing our job right–it’s resonating anyhow. And afterwards, we made hopefully not entirely too much noise for the church service in Frederick Presbyterian’s sanctuary above us singing another tag on our way out. 

So it was a successful first session with a good experience of building rapport and testing the waters– but we’ve no intention of just taking it easy. Next week, we’ll be diving into the essay by Ta Nahesi Coates, “The Case for Reparations.” Because it’s time to get real.


Music Video! Race and #RealTalk…Keepin’ It Realllll (Cuz we silly)



HALO’s New Lead!

Over the summer, our lead Nadira France graduated from Morgan State University and is now off to pursue exciting new opportunities. As we wish her well, we are excited to welcome Portia Pitts as the new official lead for HALO! Portia first performed with HALO for the MGM Grand 2017 New Year’s celebration and grand opening. She also joined us…