When I think of barbershops I think of the distinct smell of barbecide that bright blue substance, not to be mistaken for Polar Blast Hawaiian Punch in which I can guarantee you would know the difference in an instant with one quick whiff. I think of loud chatty of men discussing the latest sports game joking about how each others team is weaker than the others. I think of a place where you come in looking like who did it and why and leaving looking like who is that walking by. The place where people go to relax and get uncertified therapy for their everyday life problems. Which is the evolution of the early to mid 1900s barbershop community quartets.
The barbershop quartets came about from finding entertainment to relieve, escape, and discover joy outside the everyday hardships that African-Americans were facing. The early 1900s were rocky times where slavery was coming to an end and segregation was coming into fruition. This new type of music was a cappella based and consist of 4 parts a tenor, second tenor, baritone, and bass.Then tenors would be the high pitch voices while the baritone would be the middle pitch voice then the bass would be the lower pitch voice. With these different ranges of sounds it would create unique instrumental beats that was transferred from the vibration of their mouths to the feet of the audience around. This was a great way to gather the community and get a good ole’ jammin session in. Everyone around getting loose and feeling free even if it was just temporarily.
This new sector of music style gave African-American men a new career path and a way to get out of society restraints of poverty and low income paying 9 to 5 jobs. The barbershop quartet groups were all the buzz and the African-American people were bustling. Yet, that was only for a rare few that got a legit deal before the American people came and claimed it for their own much like jazz, rock n roll, folk, and country music.These white American record labels and radio stations had lessen the exposure of the African-American quartet groups and amped up their kin folks. But even then we still thrived.
Here are some popular barbershop quartet groups that flourished in the early 1900s.