Barbershop Music Origins, another take…

As referenced in Wikipedia…

The first uses of the term were associated with African Americans and also references that “The Mills Brothers learned to harmonize in their father’s barber shop in Piqua, Ohio. Several other well-known African American gospel quartets were founded in neighborhood barber shops, among them the New Orleans Humming Four, the Southern Stars and the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartette.” Although the Mills Brothers are primarily known as jazz and pop artists and usually performed with instrumental accompaniment, the affinity of their harmonic style with that of the barbershop quartet is clearly in evidence in their music and most notably, perhaps, in their best-known gospel recording, “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well,” performed a cappella. Their father founded a barbershop quartet, the Four Kings of Harmony, and the Mills Brothers produced at least three records in which they sang a cappella and performed traditional barbershop material.

Barbershop harmonies remain in evidence in the a cappella music of the black church. The popular, Christian a cappella group Take 6 started in 1980 as The Gentleman’s Estate Quartet with the tight, four-part harmony by which barbershop music is known. Early on, the quartet added a fifth harmonic line, but the group’s pedigree, like barbershop music, is traceable directly to the black church—and the jazzy renditions of artists like the Mills Brothers, as well.

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA



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2 Responses to “Barbershop Music Origins, another take…”

  1. acappellanolimits Says:

    Thanks for a great post!

    We love the Mills Brothers. But while their father did have a barbershop, the term barbershop music dates to black historian James Weldon Johnson who wrote, “every barbershop seemed to have its own quartet.” The song “Play That Barbershop Chord” was published in 1910, the year of the eldest Mills Brother’s birth.

    Up in the Air
    Tiffin OH

  2. a Sweet Adeline Says:

    Thanks to both of you for the trivia tidbits. I love that Barbershop Style!

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