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Singing Kernels to host 20th annual Christmas concert

An upcoming concert of the Singing Kernels will be a little more special than usual. The chorus will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with its annual Christmas show, which will be at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland Dec. 19.

“This is kind of a special concert for us,” Paul Hesson, director of the chorus, said. “We’re going to do some of our favorite music that we’ve ever done.”

The show will feature songs from past popular shows. Some of the themes from those shows include the Depression, gangster, Broadway and western.

“They’re full of comedy routines that we’ve really had a lot of fun with,” Hesson said.

The two-hour show will have plenty of Christmas music as well.

The show will also feature the Barons, a group that sang with the Singing Kernels during its first show.

The Select Choir from Boyd County High School will also perform.

The Singing Kernels, which represents the local chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, is made up of about 30 men.

Chorus president Carl Taylor described barbershop quartets as an American art form.

The a capella music is in four part harmony that includes lead, tenor, bass and baritone.

Taylor was part of a quartet that started the chorus in 1989.

He directed for 15 years before stepping down. Hesson took his place.

“I’ve sung barbershop since 1984 and it gives so much joy to my life that it’s good for me to stand in front of the guys and give back,” Hesson said. “It’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot. Some of my dear friends have come through the organization and (the concert) is just a reunion.”

Some past members of the group are coming in from as far away as New York, Hesson said.

“We have a really good core group of members who have been with the chorus for many, many years,” Hesson said.

Taylor said through the years the group has worked hard to keep the chorus going, sometimes with only 18-20 people.

“We basically do this because we love to sing,” Taylor said. All of the men in the chorus are from the Tri-State area.

“We’ve got a number from West Virginia, a number from Ohio and a number from Kentucky,” Taylor said.

The group’s Christmas shows are popular and usually draw a crowd of 400 to 600 people.

Besides a few donations received during the year, the Christmas show brings in funds to support the group for the entire year.

“This is our biggest event of the year,” Taylor said. “It’s really a fun evening and it’s all family entertainment. You can bring your children. You won’t be embarrassed. We pride ourselves with that, of course.”

The chorus meets each Monday night and is open to amateur singers such as those who sing in a church choir or were in a glee club in high school, Hesson said.

The chorus members range from men who cannot read music to those with extensive backgrounds in the field.

Directing such a range of singers is challenging buy enjoyable, Hesson said.

“It is (challenging) but it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s a growing experience for me and it’s been a lot of fun.”

The show will be Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland.

Tickets for the show are $12 for the main floor and $10 for the sides and balcony. For tickets call 532-9752.