Diane Parkes listens to a group of women who are embracing a male-dominated musical tradition.
It is a Monday evening but there is no shortage of good cheer in the school hall where more than 40 women are singing in harmony.
Arranged on benches at Grove Vale Primary School in Great Barr, the chorus is belting out the tune I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling.
It sounds lovely to me but chorus director Rod Butcher isn’t having any of it and insists they give it another go before they are allowed to break off for interviews.
He may be a tough taskmaster but the group are more than happy to try again – after all there are standards to be met.
These women are Second City Sound, a Birmingham-based ladies barbershop chorus. Formed in 1990, the group are now one of the leading choruses in the country, taking fourth place at the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers Convention last year.
Barbershop harmonising may traditionally have been a male domain but there are approximately 50 women’s barbershop choruses across the country and the trend is growing.
In school halls, churches, and community centres up and down the country women are sharing their joy of singing.
And Second City Sound is so keen to spread the message its has arranged a free singing course for women from February 21.
The group is hoping to introduce women to the enjoyment of music – and gain a few new recruits along the way.
Rhoda Poyser is one of the newest members but one of the first things she says is that she wished she had joined years ago.
The 59-year-old, who lives in Aldridge, retired from her job as head teacher at Pheasey Park Farm Primary School in Walsall last year, so she now has time for hobbies.
“I had seen the chorus perform at Sutton Town Hall and had loved it but while I was working it was too difficult to have the time for that kind of regular commitment,” she says. “When I retired I wanted to do something for myself.