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SFJ Members React to Regional Competition

Celeste, Marlene, Kayla, Teresa, Stepanie, and Christine sign with SFJ at Regional Convention for the first time

by Carol Sheppard

First Impressions of Competition by New Members...

South Florida Jubilee was excited to have six new members on stage with us at this year's regional competition: Marlene Carter-Hawkins, Celeste Burke, Christine VanHulle, Kayla Carter, Stephanie Hicks, and Teresa Mears.  All across the risers, these six have added to our harmony in so many ways.

Asked to reflect on the experience, here are some replies. For a full story of her whole adventure, read the article by Christine VanHulle. 

Marlene Carter-Hawkins, a Sweet Adeline veteran, wrote, “Ever since my last Sweet Adelines competition in Region 19 (2009), I have wanted to return to the stage. When I knew that my husband and I were moving to South Florida, my burning question was, "Where is the nearest chorus?" Imagine my glee when I learned that I would be living eight minutes away from the rehearsal space. Woo-hoo! I could not have dreamed that scenario. I think all of my sister singers could tell that returning to the stage was an emotional experience for me. It had been a long wait for me and it was so satisfying. Even though, a medal would have been nice, just being there to perform, to sing, was everything to me.” 

Celeste Burke, who not only competed with the chorus, but also took the stage with her quartet, said, “I've never competed, in anything really, mainly because I'm the most competitive person I know. I'm not so great at losing, terrible actually ;) When Vivian first mentioned wanting to form a competing quartet, my heart sunk a little. I thought, ok, I can do the contest thing, make her happy, and enjoy the rest of it. The whole process was a mess. We had the hardest time finding contestable music. We missed the registration deadline, had to pay double the fee, and were forced to go first. We took turns being sick the two months leading up to contest. But! It turned out to be the most fun I've ever had. We had 30 diehard cheer leaders! When I stepped off the stage, I felt SFJ had been up there with us; just as anxious, excited, and proud - and relieved the nail biting journey was over. As far as competing with the chorus, well I figured I'd be a pro by then since I'd just been on stage with Eclectic the day before - Oh no. No, no, no. I was wholly unprepared for the massive surge of adrenalin, and the heat! No one said, hey it's gonna be hotter than surfing a lava wave, stash some ice cubes in your costume! Where there had been blinding light, today sat a full audience - and James. I could see him nearly overcome with adrenalin, and I didn't know if that was good sign. He smiled and mouthed "Good Job" and before I could process my next thought, the ballad was over. 

Would I do it again? Absolutely!” 

Veteran chorus members enjoyed having so many “newbies” on stage. Barb Parga commented, “I had so much fun watching the expression of wonder on Stephanie's face all weekend…especially sitting on the floor in the Spirit of the Gulf suite Sat. night, watching the awesome quartets singing up close and personal. She appeared to be in a state of disbelief!” I loved Celeste's wonderful attitude and her goal to get the award for most improved quartet next year. You go, girls!” 

Laura Knowles added, “Thanks to our newbies for an amazing first competition weekend!! You all joined in, enthusiastically, and helped make this year our finest yet!! I cannot wait until next year, when we wow the judges even more than we did this time around. Rachel Berry always said that being a part of something special makes you special. Having you in the chorus absolutely makes us all just a little more special! “ 

Having new members on the stage reminds us of our initial excitement of that “first time.” We hope that we continue to grow and have even more “newbies” to add to our report next year. 

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