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Celebrating SFJ Growth

By Carol Sheppard

South Florida Jubilee has experienced an amazing period of growth this year. Membership Chair Kim Heilbrun notes, “We have 9 new members since last Thanksgiving, giving us an overall growth of 17% this year. Tenor Teresa Mears commented “our new members have brought a burst of new energy, as well as some wonderful new voices.” She speaks for all of us when she continues that she, “really enjoys singing with all of them.” Lead Section Leader Laura Knowles says, “Our lead section is bursting with new talent!” Let’s meet some of our newbies!

Kayla Carter sings bass. She is a member of the quartet Notable, and is hard at work on the Script Committee for the December 16 show, “Let it Snow.” Kayla says, “I joined SFJ to channel my passion for singing and harmonizing that got put on the back burner for several years because of life, babies, and work. I stayed because everyone is so delightful and genuinely enjoyable. It’s the perfect “me time” activity and I’ve found some genuine friendships.

I love to cook. If I’m not cooking, I’m researching new recipes or techniques, watching cooking videos, or studying new ingredients and flavors. Music is always with me in the kitchen too. My perfect day is spent in the kitchen all by myself with one of my favorite albums.”

Victoria Purvis sings tenor. She is also a member of the quartet Notable. Victoria explains, “I joined not only because I finally had Thursday nights free but also because I love to sing barbershop and felt so welcome at SFJ. I am currently a stay at home mom to my daughters, Annabelle and Eleanor, but I’ve also been an engineer at Sikorsky Aircraft (they make helicopters including the BLACKHAWK) and a mathematics teacher.”

Sara Jo Battat sings baritone. Sara says, “After graduating from college and starting work in importing stone and tile, I knew there was something missing in my life but I wasn't sure what. An uncle told me about SFJ, and as soon as I joined, the whole was over filled. I had been singing in chorus ensembles, A'Capella groups and musical theater productions for as long as I've been in school, and SFJ allowed me to continue that passion even after. What's more, I had never sung barbershop music before so I am now getting the chance to learn a new amazing form of vocal expression. There are no better teachers then in the SFJ community; the people here are so welcoming and talented. I remember walking in on my first day to beautiful music being sung just for fun by some of the members who arrived early. I was instantly greeted by 10-15 members who made me feel instantaneously part of them. I then got to watch the wonderful director James listen and match each singer's voice to magically arrange us into a power sounding group. Each day the members of this group draw me deeper into the barbershop world and I can't imagine there was ever a time I wasn't singing with them. I am so glad to be an SFJ member.”

Christine VanHulle sings lead. Christine tells, “I joined around last Christmas. I was looking for a good group of women to have fun with. I love to sing and I wanted to learn to sing harmonies. I’ve lived in Ft. Lauderdale for ten years, and am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve also lived in Seattle and Oxford, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I’m a Marine Engineer and have traveled all over the world on big container ships. Now my hobbies are gardening, biking, kayaking, and cooking.

We even have two college students who have joined and are singing lead: Angela Caravella and Reyna Rodriguez.

Team Leader Linda Arnold expresses all of our sentiments well when she says, “I am always excited when we welcome a new member into our chorus!! I believe each new member brings something that helps us grow musically and as chorus! We cherish the old but we also welcome the new. Our new members have helped us become more comfortable with technology and new ways to reach out to people. Musically, they are eager to learn their music quickly and fit right in. Lastly, we develop a bond between all of us that makes us a sisterhood of women with respect to what we have accomplished these past 21 years and how we can continue to grow and expand!! Thank you to all of new voices for being heard!!!”

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