Celebrating National Barbershop Quartet Day

Veritas Prep April 11, 2024

To celebrate National Barbershop Quartet Day, our very own barbershop singing group, Shave Shack, comprised of students from Veritas Prep, performed  on Fox 10 Phoenix and an in studio performance for an Arizona Midday segment on 12News.

Shave Shack is not your traditional barber shop quartet. They’re a quartet with a little extra harmony, boasting five members instead of four. The musical group was born of performers who were not ready to hang up their straw hats and striped vests after their debuts in the 2023 school musical.

“Originally, we had our production of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man last year, and within the musical itself, there is a barber shop quartet,” said senior Ethan Mathew, who sings baritone and lead for the group. They had a lot of fun with the genre of music and decided to form a singing group. “This is a really fun thing, and we want to keep it going,” he said.

Barbershop singers performing on local news

Mathew admits to coming up with the group name, Shave Shack. While no one in the group, originally consisting of a whopping eight members, was crazy about the name, they couldn’t decide on anything else, and Mathew said the name just stuck. Three of the members graduated last spring, leaving the remaining five to form this talented quintet with Henry Burch (junior), Cade Huseth (junior), Ethan Mathew (senior), Benedict Tawney (sophomore), and Jude Tawney (senior).

Barbershop singers performing on local news

The barbershop style is characterized by its four-part harmony without instrumental accompaniment, or a cappella. “It’s just you and your voice. You’ll have four main parts: the base – the low notes, the baritone – a bit higher, then you’ll have the tenor, who have the really difficult job of singing those really high notes that you do not think is humanly possible to sing, and you have the leads – now the leads are the people that are usually singing the melody. They’ll stick out the most in your memory. Those four parts all come together and then we’ll make some music,” explained Mathew.

The harmonic vocals these young men deliver will bring you back to the simpler eras of Americana. Their voices transcend their young ages and transport you to a euphoric nostalgia. Before you know it, you will find yourself tapping your foot to the familiar ragtime tunes.

Barbershop singers performing on local news

The group loves to sing but found they didn’t have a lot of opportunity in other music groups to sing a cappella. “Here we have more control over our harmonies, our tempo, and that gives us a lot of freedom. Our harmonies are more close-knit. It takes a lot of effort to be able to get our harmonies right,” said Mathew. The group is overseen by choir director and music instructor, Melissa Sassaman, who provides musical instruction and support to the group.

“It’s just a better sort of community, too. Smaller group, so we form closer bonds with each other,” said Mathew.

“It’s just really fun,” added senior Jude Tawney. “It’s less serious music I would say. It’s fun to sing and you can kind of get into it a little bit.”

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