Monday, June 29, 2009

Wombat in Anaheim - The beginning

This is too good to be true. Two of my favorite things are coming together – Disney and the Vocal Majority!

Those who know me well know that I love Disney, and my family has taken several trips to Walt Disney World and cruises on the Disney Cruise Line. We’ve had some amazing vacations – the most recent capped with an unexpected, complimentary upgrade to the Walt Disney Suite aboard the Disney Wonder, the best passenger quarters on the ship.

Another passion I have is singing with the Vocal Majority chorus. This group, billed as “America’s Premier Pops Chorus,” is officially the Dallas Metro chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, but it does not limit itself to barbershop music. The Vocal Majority, or “VM,” consists of 140+ men singing in tight, close-harmony, mostly a capella arrangements of standards, patriotic, gospel, inspirational, pop, and yes, barbershop. They are incredibly entertaining, if I may say so myself, and I’m very privileged to be a member.

VM strives to be the very best in the world at what they do, and they put that to the test regularly -- they compete with other choruses from around the world through the Barbershop Harmony Society. The BHS holds a convention every year, and choruses (and quartets, in a separate competition) travel from all over to entertain, be judged, be ranked, and hopefully take home a medal.

The Vocal Majority has won the international gold medal for best chorus an unprecedented eleven times. Furthermore, when a chorus wins the gold, they must sit out of competition for a full two years, meaning they are only eligible to win again three years after their last gold medal. VM won their first gold in 1975; their next gold medal came in 1979, and since then they’ve won the top prize every three years: 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2006. Coming in to 2009, that’s an amazing 30-year undefeated streak.

Since I’m a new member, I wasn’t part of any of that.

I joined VM in 2007. My first performance with the chorus was at the International Convention in Denver that year, before 9,000-10,000 screaming fans in the Pepsi Center, with the reigning champ Vocal Majority performing a “swan song” set to “sing away the trophy.” What a thrill! Since that time, I’ve performed over 30 times with VM, including four show series, several private shows, a wedding and a funeral (and the show count would be much higher if I hadn’t been derailed in the Fall of ’08 by foot surgery); and I’m on the two most recent Vocal Majority CDs: “Believe,” released Christmas of ’07, and “Something’s Coming: Broadway Hits from America’s Premiere Pops Chorus” which came out in April of this year.

Singing with the VM is a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too. Not only is the chorus made up of a great group of men from all walks of life, but just making that kind of music, being inside those tight, ringing chords, is an experience nothing else can match.

And now it’s competition time again. The Vocal Majority’s last win was in 2006, so we will compete at the 2009 International Convention of the Barbershop Harmony Society. And guess where that convention is being held?

Anaheim, California. Home of Disneyland. Woo hoo! This is a double thrill for me – it gives us a reason to take another Disney trip, but to the original park that Walt built this time, and I get to sing with VM and (hopefully) win my own gold medal in the process.

In addition to our usual gang of six – me, my wife Becky, our two boys Brandon & Benjamin, and Becky’s parents – my own parents are driving out to California along with my aunt and uncle, who have become huge VM fans themselves. We’ll go for the convention and stay for Disneyland!

It’s going to be awesome.


My name is Brad, a/k/a “Wombat.” I am a 44-year-old Dallas-area attorney, married father of two wonderful boys. Disneyland was the first Disney park I visited, in 1982, and this will be only my second visit there, after five intervening trips to Walt Disney World. For this trip and the previous four WDW trips I have had by my side my beautiful wife…

Becky, teacher, homemaker, and all-around cuddly person. She doesn’t get into all of the Disney planning like I do, but she loves being there! She visited Walt Disney World once with her family in the 1980’s, for our honeymoon in 1990, and since in 2003, 2005, and 2007. We are parents to two wonderful (and funny) boys…

Brandon, a 14-year-old starting high school in the Fall. Brandon is a creative guy with a sharp mind, wants to be an engineer, and would be delighted if someday “engineer” became “Imagineer”! His brother is…

Benjamin, a smart, funny 12-year-old headed for seventh grade. Benjamin is focused and passionate about the things he cares most about – which is basketball in general and the Dallas Mavericks in particular! We are blessed to be traveling with…

Bob & Linda, Becky’s parents, my wonderful in-laws and the boys’ grandparents, who have traveled extensively and who love Disney! Bob is a former Air Force jet pilot and retired educator, while Linda is a church organist and full-time grandma to Brandon, Benjamin, and four other grandsons. Joining us in Anaheim will be…

C.S. & Gail, my parents. They have never been to a Disney park, but we’ve wanted to have them along for some time. Our boys simply adore them, and unlike some families, we all get along very well – in-laws (& outlaws?) included. This trip is a gift they are giving themselves for their upcoming 50th wedding anniversary! Traveling with them will be…

Ron & Kay, my uncle and aunt – Ron is my mom’s older brother. They’d heard other quartets and choruses before, but we got them to a VM show in December and they are hooked!

Check back soon – the trip is about to begin!


D.R.G. said...

I feel like I've read the headlines and now I get to read the story. Looking forward to this!

The Strange One said...

me too I wonder what is going to happen