Top of the Rock Chorus
The Top of the Rock Chorus is the Little Rock (Pulaski County) chapter of Sweet Adelines International, the female barbershop singing group. The chorus was formed on February 7, 1961, and two original members sang with Top of the Rock until 2005. The group was originally called Little Rock Chorus and was renamed Top of the Rock Chorus in the 1980s. It is composed of about sixty women—ages twenties to eighties—who rehearse weekly and compete annually against other female choruses and quartets in Region 25 (Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas), the Heart of America Region.
Sweet Adelines International was formed on July 13, 1945, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A few women wanted to participate in the “chord-ringing, fun-filled harmony” that their husbands—members of the relatively new Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America—were singing.
In addition to the main chorus, a smaller group is called Rock Star (formerly, the chorus’s small group was known as Piece of the Rock). This group has lower performance fees and often can fit in venues where the full chorus cannot. The chorus also has several quartets. All groups perform for a wide variety of events, from the capitol lighting ceremonies in Little Rock during the winter holidays to convention banquets and birthday parties.
Among the ways the chorus raises money are annual dues, paid performances, and two annual shows: Hot August Night and Jingle Jam. The chorus cooperates with the men’s barbershop chorus—the Diamond State Chorus—by selling “singing Valentines” in February.
At competition, choruses are judged in the categories of sound, music, showmanship, and expression. The chorus has won the region’s chorus competition five times and the Harmony Achievement Award for best small chorus at the international convention in 2000. Over the past fifty years, the group has consistently ranked in the top five choruses in Region 25. As either a regional champion or wildcard selection, Top of the Rock Chorus has represented its region internationally eight times. Quartets from the chorus have won many awards, including regional honors. Director Peggy Gram’s quartet, Rumors, won the international quartet championship in 1999.
Gram became director in 1972, when she was twenty-two. Kelly Causey replaced her as director for one year in 2006, and then the two began to co-direct the group.
For additional information:
Top of the Rock Chorus. http://www.topoftherockchorus.com (accessed February 23, 2013).
Withers, Ellen. “Directing to Success: Two Women from Maumelle Conduct Top of the Rock Chorus to International Competition.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, River Valley and Ozark Edition, May 1, 2005, p. 1.
C. Dennis Schick
North Little Rock, Arkansas
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Top of the Rock chorus supports three endeavors that promote music. Young Women in Harmony offers music educators a means of including the study and performance of barbershop harmony in school music programs. The Young Singers Foundation is committed to enriching the lives of young people by supporting the educational and performance opportunities in vocal music. Grants to individuals, groups, and organizations that sponsor music activities for young people are available as well as a college scholarship for a young woman enrolled in a fulltime college music program. The Overtone Society seeks funds to support and expand programs, services, and facilities of Sweet Adelines International to protect and perpetuate the organization for future generations.