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See, Hear 'What Happens in Vegas'

Get a preview of Pride of Portland's contest repertoire before the Las Vegas competition

SUBMITTED PHOTO  - Pride of Portland Chorus will present a preview concert of its What Happens in Vegas competition repertoire Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. The concert is a fundraiser for their trip to Las Vegas for the competition, plus a chance for the community to learn about womens a cappella singing.

The Pride of Portland Chorus, Portland’s premiere nonprofit women’s a cappella chorus, will present a preview performance of its upcoming contest repertoire for the 2016 Sweet Adelines International Chorus Contest to take place in October in Las Vegas, Nev.

The preview performance, which is a fundraiser for the competition trip, will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 1 at Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin. Titled “What Happens in Vegas,” the program features a cappella interpretations of selections from a 100-years journey of timeless classics to modern pop, covered over the years by vocal artists such as: The Mills Brothers, Bing Crosby, Willie Nelson, the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin), Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Aretha Franklin, Josh Groban, Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli, Tessanne Chin and Pentatonix.

Guest quartets include the award-winning Primetime, the 2016 Sweet Adelines International 12th-place-winning quartet, and Flipside, the 2016 Society 13th Place Quartet.

“In preparation for our upcoming, annual Pride of Portland Chorus Show and journey to Las Vegas in October I was surfing the internet to research some history on the songs we’ll be singing,” said Jean Ashby one of the members of POP, “to get more of an idea as to who the composers were, what was happening in the country at that time that might have influenced them and what kind of impact, if any, might their songs have had on their audiences. Were these song duds or have they survived the test of time, to live on for future audiences to enjoy?”

She determined the program lineup represented “timeless classics” worthy of adding POP’s “interp” to help ensure the songs do survive the test of time.

She found a span of more than 100 years between the oldest golden oldie, “If I Had my Way” written in 1913, and the youngest pop song “Sing” written in 2015.

“Of course, Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877, was probably a procuring factor in helping make vocalists, bands and orchestras more accessible,” Ashby said. “At least for those who could afford them, but as the century advanced in time, so did more inventions, which have afforded the masses the opportunity to now enjoy the music from the golden oldies to contemporary selections.”

She said she also learned that the earlier songs were covered by popular vocalists over the century, rejuvenating the songs with their own interpretive style, making them appealing for their own generation.

For example, “Birth of the Blues” was a big hit for Frank Sinatra in the 1950s and was later recorded by Randy Travis as a duet with Willie Nelson for Travis’ ”Heroes and Friends” album, Ashby said. Yet, this popular song was actually written in 1926, three years before the Great Depression, by Ray Henderson, with lyrics by Buddy G. DeSylva and Lew Brown. It was recorded in 1927 by “Whispering” Jack Smith, the Hamilton Sisters and Fordyce and later covered by vocalists and bands, including Bing Crosby in 1941 and Cab Calloway in 1943 or 1944.

“‘Birth of the Blues’ is just as happy, a feel-good song to listen to as it is to sing,” Ashby said. “Jazz and blues folks would understand.”

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” — written by Paul Simon in 1969 and recorded by Simon and Garfunkel in 1970 — was Song of the Year in 1971. It won five Grammys at the 13th-annual Grammy Awards that same year. It was the last album the duo released before splitting up and the biggest selling album ever for Columbia Records.

The song was covered by Elvis Presley in 1970; Aretha Franklin in 1971; and Brian McKnight in 2008. Blige performed it at the 52nd Grammy Awards Ceremony in 2010, in an attempt to garner support for the victims of a massive earthquake in Haiti. This version reached No. 75 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“This is a wonderful piece of emotional, poignant hope,” Ashby said. “No matter what’s going on in one’s life, there will be someone there, to help lift you up, to be a bridge for you to walk from a place of hopelessness to a place of hope. … In POP Chorus’ upcoming show this song starts off with a modern dancer forlornly expressing her personal despair in dance, ending head-bowed on the floor. Our soloist approaches, offering a concerned hand uplifting the dancer to her feet, as the chorus joins in song. It is a tear jerking arrangement; truly a blank vocal canvas for the audience to paint their own audio/visual masterpiece.”

Ashby said “What Happens in Vegas” is not just a recital of favorite tunes. POP Chorus is a chorus committed to education and musical excellence primarily in the barbershop style. And it includes intricate choreography, glamour costumes and great showmanship.

“At its heart, it is four-part a cappella art form distinguished by ringing chords and sparkling overtones,” Ashby said. “It differs from traditional choral singing in several ways, but first and foremost, it is unaccompanied. The vocal parts are patterned in a unique way with carefully defined roles within the harmonic structure.”

It’s a show you don’t want to miss.

"Now I might be just a little bit partial when I say our upcoming 'What Happens in Vegas' show could well be the best in the Northwest," Ashby said. "Or even a close second to some of the shows on the Vegas strip and certainly cheaper than going all the way to Broadway. You decide!"

Tickets to the Oct. 1 concert at Rolling Hills, located at 3550 S.W. Borland Road in Tualatin, are $25 for adults and $15 for students. Order online at prideofportland.org. Those unable to attend can sponsor audience members or donate to the chorus to defray expenses to the Las Vegas competition. To do so, call Ashby at 503-515-7464.

To see POP perform, visit prideofportland.org/performances. To meet the chorus, visit prideofportland.org/chorus.

Contact Barb Randall at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..