TRAVERSE CITY — Jeff Belanger never dreamed he would leave as the latest member of the Cherry Capital Men’s Chorus when he went to pick up his teenage son from choir practice.
“I was picking up my son and he asked me to come in and listen to them practice,” recalled Belanger, of that night nearly a decade ago. “Someone tapped me on the shoulder, handed me a song book and I was completely hooked.”
Now the Traverse City resident, who had never sung a note before in his life, sets his watch by the choir’s Tuesday night practices.
Belanger and the rest of the barbershoppers will perform their 47th annual June concert on Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, in Lars Hockstad Auditorium at Central Grade School. This year’s show, The Tunes of Our Times, will feature tuneful melodies and tight harmonies celebrating barbershop singing in America and the 75th birthday of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
“It’s never what people expect,” said Belanger. “It’s an evening of great entertainment.”
Several small ensembles will perform alongside the larger chorus, including the quartets Quad Pro Quo, Fourtitude and the Shoreliners. The chorus also will welcome guest quartet Ebb N’ Flow, an energetic quartet of four college friends brought together by a mutual love of a capella harmonies.
Belanger said that if you think the Cherry Capital Men’s Chorus is just a group of retirees, think again. He’s one of more than 50 members of the group, which includes a wide range of men from new dads to granddads.
“If you close your eyes when you’re listening to the music you would have no idea how old anyone is,” he said.
Belanger said he sings with the chorus not only for the camaraderie but for relaxation in an atmosphere where everyone is an equal.