Diamond Memories (We’re Over ¾ Century Old!)

Shreveport Journal article, March 16, 1951. “BARBER SHOP HARMONY—The second in a series of ‘Harmony Shows' sponsored by the local barber shop singing group, the SPEBSQSA, will be held Friday at 7:30 ㏘ at the Werner Park School auditorium. Among the singers who will take part in the show are the ‘Four Clippers' shown above. Left to right they are Charlie Melton, tenor; Milton Herbet, lead; Wayne Dilman, baritone; and Ernie Turner, bass. Other quartets appearing will be the ‘Cross Towners,' “Dixie Dudes,'  ‘Louisiana Planters,' ‘Pelican Staters,' and the ‘Legion Four.'  A girls' trio from Fair Park High School, the ‘Blendettes,' will also star in the show, as well the 35 male voice SPEBSQSA chorus under the direction of Peyton Carter. Tickets are on sale at Werner Park School. — (Journal Photo by George Rhicardson)”Text on old poster: ““KEEP AMERICA SINGING! • YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A CARUSO!… • If You Like To Harmonize • COME ON UP AND JOIN THE FUN! • Every Monday Night, 7:30 ㏘ at the Washington-Youree Hotel • BARBER SHOP HARMONIZING • Shreveport Chapter • S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. • The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singng in America, Inc. • For Further Information Call 5-2484”The River Cities Jubilee Chorus formed its roots over 75 years ago in 1948 by J. Howell Fluornoy, sheriff of Caddo Parish. Back then the chapter went by the name of The Shreveport Chapter, was changed to the Northwest Louisiana Chapter of SPEBSQSA in 1988, and later was changed to the current title of the Northwest Louisiana Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society when our parent organization, SPEBSQSA, changed their dba name a couple decades ago. Starting out with only 6–8 members, the Chorus quickly grew and has participated in competitions earning them District Top Ten status in the 1960s and District Champ status in the late 80s and early 90s. Although the Chorus is not necessarily contest oriented, that hasn’t kept them from entering or hosting contests.

Text on marquee: “RIVER CITIES JUBILEE PRESENTS: • SINGOUT 2018 • TUES, OCT 23, 7PM”In 2016 and 2018, the River Cities Jubilee sponsored contests called the “Sing Out” at The Strand Theatre in Shreveport. This contest had middle and high school choral groups perform on stage at the Strand and compete for cash prizes (and a trophy in the second year), up to $1,000 to the winning group. The contest was judged by the audience in the house plus a couple of local celebrity judges. In total, the chorus gave away some $6,000 to choral programs in the Shreveport/Bossier City area.  

In 2019, the chorus formed a “Music Medics” ensemble to sing songs for children at Shriner’s Children’s Hospital (and eventually planned for other hospitals for children) in Shreveport. Since many of the patients at Shriner's at the time were from Latin America, the chorus asked noted barbershop arranger Tom Gentry to create a barbershop arrangement of a popular children’s song sung in Spanish—“De Colores” (“The Colors”).

After a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chorus began meeting again in 2021 and is now back up to full strength with Ross Smith as the chorus director. Unfortunately, neither of the above programs have been revived yet since the pandemic, but we hope to do so soon.

One thing’s certain in the barbershop world; members must join together to stay active in singing and reviving this hobby which can so easily slip under the radar. The Chorus actively seeks to spread the joy that barbershop singing can bring to the community and works hard to grow its membership through social media campaigns, live TV interviews, and in-person recruiting. We’re looking forward to another 75 years of singing together!