International Barbershop Harmony Champs Come Together To Help Benefit South Brunswick Food Pantry
Something old, something new.
New Jersey’s international barbershop harmony champions came together to benefit South Brunswick New Jersey’s food pantry. Though two generations apart, these two champion quartets showed that the word ‘community’ comes in four part harmony. Party of Five Quartet is the 2017 international seniors champion quartet, and the Quin-Tones are the 2019 international junior quartet champions. Bert Baron of WCTC-AM radio was the evening’s emcee.
Both barbershop quartets are from New Jersey – Party of Five are from parts of Central Jersey, and The Quin-Tones are from Quinton Township in South Jersey. Both sing in four part barbershop harmony. Though the age difference is between the two quartets may be large, both have a love of the same type of music.
“When the Quin-tones won their gold medal in Nashville in January, I immediately knew we could do a joint show together.” Said Jeff Winik of the Kendall Park section of South Brunswick who is a member of Party of Five Quartet. “I wanted it to be local, knowing what the South Brunswick food pantry does to help the community throughout the year. It took one phone asking the junior champs to agree this could not only be of great help to the community, but could be fun as well. They jumped at the opportunity to join us old guys.”
So what does it take to become a junior international singing champ? “A lot of work, training, and support from our parents, friends, and the other guys within the quartet.” said Julian Leflore, who sings the lead (melody) part in the Quin-Tones. Tommy Hunter, who sings the baritone part added, “We all knew each other before the forming the quartet. It’s not only fun, but a true bonding experience. We’re like brothers.”
Chris Crawford who sings bass added “When you work at the level we do, there’s also a lot of trust on stage.” LeFlore also mentioned that the trust component is vital in this teamwork. “I can trust these guys if I fall and mask my weakness if need be. We all hold each other to be accountable on and off stage and work to be the best version of ourselves.”
Jake Lapp, who sings tenor in the Quin-Tones has been blind from birth, though speaking with him and the others you wouldn’t know it. “Because I have perfect pitch, there’s no need to have a pitch pipe on stage.” The three others treat him in a brotherly way. He plays eight instruments and is thinking of pursuing a career in music education.
The Quin-Tones were a recipient of a full scholarship by the Harmony Foundation to attend the Barbershop Harmony Society's Harmony University held on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville in 2018. The week long ‘university’ is a program sponsored by the Barbershop Harmony Society annually and teaches classes that include vocal technique, music theory, stage production, quartet coaching, music arranging and various other subjects that is ‘anything barbershop.’
Party of Five Quartet came together in 2016. Two of its members, Brad Brooks and Jeff Winik, were former gold medalists two years prior with the quartet Faces 4 Radio. “After that quartet broke up, Brad and I wanted to stay together as we recognized that the two of us sing exceedingly well together.” Winik said. “So we looked up some old buddies of ours and asked if they would like go for some gold. We competed in San Antonio and won our first time out.”
The concert, held on June 21, 2019 at the South Brunswick Senior Center, benefitted the food pantry of the Social Services department of South Brunswick, which focuses on needy residents in the community. The food pantry is one of many services the department provides. Families and individuals go without proper food, shelter and essential medical care every day due to a variety of factors including low wages, job loss, injuries, illness, age, mental illness, domestic violence or divorce. The department’s mission is to help the residents in South Brunswick deal with those issues to best of its abilities. The concert raised money and donations of non-perishable food.
The food pantry assists an average of 100 families per month which has been seeing an increase in need for residents and is in need of donations now more than ever. During the summer months, donations decline but the need remains the same. For more information about the Food Bank contact Jeanne Wert, Director of Social Services at (732) 329-4000 Ext. 7674.