By James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World
Reposted with permission.


Doug Crowl got into barbershop quartet singing to get out of trouble.

Crowl was a student at Tulsa’s Memorial High School when a friend asked him to attend a rehearsal of the Founders Chorus, an ensemble that traces its history back to the beginning of the efforts to preserve and encourage barbershop quartet singing in America.

“This was a Tuesday night, a school night, and the rehearsal was taking place on the other side of town,” Crowl recalled. “And I forgot to tell my parents what I was doing. I ended up getting home about 10 p.m., and my father was waiting there to mete out some punishment.”

Crowl struck a bargain with his father — postpone any disciplinary action until the two of them could attend another rehearsal together. Crowl’s father agreed, and the next week, the two of them joined the chorus.

“That was in 1985,” said Crowl, who now directs the Founders Chorus, as well as the distaff ensemble — Tulsa Metro Sound. “Now, my son sings with me in the chorus, and my wife and daughter are part of Tulsa Metro Sound.”

While the close four-part harmony singing that has come to be known as “barbershop” has been around since the 1880s, it wasn’t until April 11, 1938, that a group of harmoniously minded individuals gathered on the roof garden of the Tulsa Club that modern barbershop quartet singing began to take form.

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