Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Barbershop Harmony Society
The Barbershop Harmony Society, also known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA), was the first of several organizations to promote and preserve Barbershop music as an art form. Founded in 1938 under the SPEBSQSA name, the organization quickly grew, promoting barbershop harmony among men of all ages. As of 2004, more than 30,000 men in the United States and Canada are members of this organization. Its focus is on A cappella music.
A parallel women's singing organization, Sweet Adelines International, was founded in 1945. A second women's barbershop-harmony organization, Harmony Incorporated , was formed in 1959, as the result of a dispute over SAI's membership policy, which at the time limited membership to whites. (This exclusion has long since been dropped). Several international affiliate organizations, in countries from Scandinavia to Japan, add their own flavor to the signature sound of barbershop harmony.
The original initialism was a lampoon on the New Deal "alphabet agencies," which founder O. C. Cash detested. For decades, SPEBSQSA was the official name, while The Barbershop Harmony Society was an officially recognized and sanctioned alternative name. There was even encouragement to use the alternate name, because it was often felt that the official name was a sort of in-joke that did not resonate outside the Society. In mid-2004, faced with declining membership, the Society adopted a marketing plan that calls for using "Barbershop Harmony Society" consistently, and retaining the old name for certain legal purposes.
The old official name of the organization spelled "barber shop" as two words, whereas barbershop is generally used elsewhere.
The society can be contacted via their website, listed below, or by telephoning (800) 876-SING.
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