by Meryl Kelleher
Regional Competition Offers Many Values...
Each April, I get excited. No, it's not that spring is in the air, nor is it that the end of my school year is approaching. It's competition time! All year long the members of South Florida Jubilee work diligently on two songs.
But it’s not just any two songs - it’s the two songs that our director James has selected, in order to showcase our skills to a large auditorium full of people (and to a small panel of judges!) in Daytona, Beach, Florida, at the Coastal Harmony Region’s Sweet Adelines International Regional Competition! Through the many months, through sunny days, rainy days, hurricanes, you name it, we work to perfect our songs. Each week brings us closer, one step at a time, to that sweet spot where we do what James has been trying to get us to do for so long. With blood (more than one of us has gotten a bruise or two), sweat (singing makes you very warm) and tears (ahh, those tender ballads) we toil away, so that, come April, we will be ready to take our show on the road. (The road to Daytona Beach, that is.) We check in to our beautiful rooms at the Hilton, throw our bags on the bed and rush to catch the amazing Quartet Competition. How I love to hear each group sing their songs, some that I’ve never heard, and lots of old favorites. The tunes wash over me, like a warm, soft rain shower. I feel touched and enraptured by the emotional ballads, and I tap my toes and fingers to jaunty uptunes. Looking around the auditorium, I see people I know. Some are former members of SFJ, some I know by their faces only, and others who are in my chorus now. (My peeps!) Big hugs and quick catch-ups abound, until the next group of beautiful ladies take the stage. I can’t wait to see who wins! Then it’s time for our Chorus Competition! With great care, we dress, do our make-up, put on our shoes, and off we go to the theater. Ladies in other competing choruses tell us we look great, and they wish us the best of luck! (In what other activity do your competitors root for you?) Our hearts are in our throats as we take the stage. We confidently stride onstage, and sing and dance our hearts out! It’s over so quickly-so many months of practice come down to these 6 minutes. We have done our best. Now, we wait to see our scores. But we feel like winners already-we see James smiling at us, giving us a thumbs-up or whispering “good job”. The judges are smiling too. And the audience-they are cheering like mad for us. As we exit the stage, we hear “Great job!” and “Wow! That was fantastic!” from people who were watching. I just love being a “star” for a day. How often, in our everyday lives, do people applaud for us? The moment comes when we find out who won. Maybe we did, and maybe we didn’t. But right now, I am happy to be part of an amazingly talented group of women who share my passion for singing and performing, and who I call my friends-and that is a beautiful thing indeed! Too soon, it’s all over and time to head home. I’ve done my best. I’ve gotten to hear some wonderful singing. I’ve had an amazing weekend. I always return home re-invigorated about this awesome hobby of mine. I can’t wait to see what songs James has in store for us for next year’s contest…To Be Continued!!