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Tuscaloosa residents head to Bama Theatre for a night of rock ‘n’ roll

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama

West Alabamians are reliving their rock ‘n’ roll days this weekend in Tuscaloosa. Crimson Pride Chorus will host A Rockin’ Radio Show this Friday, July 14 at Bama Theatre. The show starts at 7 p.m.

Attendees will hear several jukebox classics like “Rock Around the Clock,” “Sweet Caroline” and other hits from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and Neil Sedaka.

Crimson Pride Chorus sings barbershop music, which is a form of a capella music that features male performers who sing one of four parts: tenor, lead, baritone and bass. Lead performers sing the melody, while tenors, baritones and basses harmonize with the melody. A capella music is a style of music that only features singing. There is no instrument other than the human voice.

Crimson Pride Chorus

A Rockin’ Radio Show commemorates the chorus’ 50th anniversary as a chartered barbershop group in Alabama. In 1948, The Barbershop Harmony Society established the Dixie District, which consisted of 10 regional barbershop chapters in the Southeast. Tuscaloosa was one of these 10 chapters that performed until the 1960s. Crimson Pride Chorus is the reformation of the Tuscaloosa chapter. The chorus started performing in 1972 and chartered in 1973.

Rodney Truelove is a Crimson Pride Chorus singer and board member. He said the group positively impacts his life every day.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of it on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “Believe it or not, there’s a couple of guys who have been in [the chorus] for 45 years. I think there’s one [member] who has been in it for all 50 years. It is a very special, close-knit group. When we get together and sing, it lifts my spirit. We rehearse every week and have for years. My wife says, when I come home [after rehearsal], I’m in a better frame of mind.”

This week’s Rockin’ Radio Show also celebrates the retirement of Music Director Ron Montgomery, who has led Crimson Pride Chorus since 1974. Truelove said Montgomery’s leadership has helped the chorus compete in and win several regional singing competitions as well as transform the group into a top music program.

“Ron is a well-known figure in the barbershop harmony community across the nation,” he said. “He has been a key part of it. He has led our chorus to, basically, championship-level performances. We have a district convention that we go to twice a year, and, under his leadership, he has helped bring us to actually winning the district and that’s competing against choruses from across the Southeast.”

However, it is not just Crimson Pride Chorus performing at Bama Theatre this weekend. Three barbershop quartets will also take the stage, including Stack O’ Loose Nichols, Quadraphonics and The Stacked Deck.

Whether attendees know barbershop music or not, Truelove said this event is sure to cause nostalgia.

“It’s going to be highly entertaining and a lot of fun,” he said. “When we get together and sing, we have fun, and we share that fun with our audience. If anybody is from the rock ‘n’ roll era, they’re going to recognize some of these songs. They’re going to reminisce and have some good feelings about hearing the songs they grew up with.”

In addition to having fun, Truelove said he hopes Friday night’s show will help re-popularize a capella music in West Alabama.

“We certainly hope to,” he said. “Several of the members have said that our chorus is one of the best kept secrets in town. People don’t know that much about us or don’t know about the barbershop harmony singing style. But if they would choose to come, I think they would be overwhelmed with the quality of the performance and how much fun it is.”

Readers can purchase tickets online by visiting Eventbrite. Tickets are also available at Bama Theatre on Friday. Tickets are $15 each.

Joshua LeBerte is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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