Barbershop Chorus to perform 22nd annual Lenten Benefit Concert

Abbey Whittington, Entertainment Editor

The Coles County Barbershop Chorus, a musical group of 47 years, will be performing with four local quartets at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Wesley United Methodist Church.

This performance will be the group’s 22nd annual Lenten Benefit concert, and the one-hour concert will be free. During the show there will be an opportunity for listeners to donate to food pantry and homeless shelter programs in the area.

Every year the Coles County Barbershop Chorus generates up to $6,000 through benefit concerts.

The chorus members come from 18 different communities, from Champaign to Neoga, and from Paris to Sullivan. The group practices together every Tuesday night for three hours at the First Presbyterian Church to prepare for their performances.

Since 2011, the chorus has added five new members and has performed at more than 12 community events, including church services and special events for nursing homes.

“It’s strange, we have all of these members from all over and only one of them is from Mattoon,” Woodall said. “But the church has been very good to us in letting the chorus practice.”

During the three-hour practices, the chorus invites people to listen in, and this is how members have been recruited in the past.

Tom Woodall, a retired kinesiology professor and former Eastern track coach, founded the chorus group with Ron Luthers, retired English professor.

The acapella group started in the summer of 1970 as a chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA), which is now the Barbershop Harmony Society

The chorus has 35 members and will perform at the benefit with songs including “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, and has performed jazz, gospel and even pop music.

“There is a special fellowship with the chorus,” Woodall said. “These members are well over 55, and they find the time to come out and participate with us.”

Woodall said that for many of the choruses’ performances the members will invite their daughters, wives and friends to sing with them as a mixed chorus. For the benefit concert, these women and children will be closing the performance.


Abbey Whittington can be reach at 581-2812 or [email protected]