Denise Radford had always enjoyed singing and had even been approached a few times about joining a women's music group. It wasn't until she heard the four-part a capella group Sweet Adelines perform at an annual event that she knew she wanted to be on stage.
"I was just amazed at what they did and knew that I wanted to be up there with them," said the Evans resident.
It took two years before Radford made the next step: contacting the local group.
"It is really fun," said Marilyn Grau, a 30-year member of Sweet Adelines and current president of the local chapter. "This group is very, very inclusive. We welcome women with open arms."
Grau also serves as the membership chair of the local chapter and said the goal is to recruit 15 new members before the end of the year.
"We are a group of women who love getting together, having fun and singing," she said. "We're like sisters."
On a recent night Radford played hostess for the group's first house party to welcome women interested in learning more about the Sweet Adelines. Ethel Tomlin of Martinez came as a guest of Grau's and quickly felt at home with the women.
"I've always loved music and to sing," said Tomlin. "I was in my high school and college choirs and am in the church choir."
When Tomlin started expressing interest in the Sweet Adelines, Grau insisted she come to the party to see what they were all about.
"You don't have to be a solo voice," said Cindy Cawthorne, a former Sweet Adelines who is considering rejoining the group. "That's the best part."
Grau said the local chapter has nearly 30 members and includes women of all ages -- from teens to charter member Mildred Blain, now 90.
"Maybe five years ago we had 50 members," said Grau. "Due to members moving, students leaving for college, health problems and even death, we've lost about 20 members. We haven't actively recruited to fill those spots. Instead we've been concentrating on our sound, which, believe it or not, is stronger now than when we had 50. But now we want the strong sound and the members to be even better."
The house parties are one tool the group is using to recruit new members. During the meetings, guests will sing a few songs and talk about the Sweet Adelines.
"We're not necessarily looking for professional singers," said Grau. "We're looking for persons who can carry a tune, whose voices can blend with others and who are ready for fun. We'll teach them to sing and even teach them to read music."
The next party is slated for Tuesday in Martinez. For information on this and upcoming Sweet Adeline recruitment events, call Grau at (706) 868-0120.
"Four-part a capella barbershop harmony is one of the few uniquely American musical genres, along with Dixieland, jazz and the Negro spiritual," said Grau.
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