MARSHALL - When competing with 350 other women barbershoppers from around the region, you can feel the pressure, said Wendy Chisham, director of the Song of the Prairie Sweet Adeline Chorus.
The Song of the Prairie Sweet Adeline Chorus and the quartet Popular Demand competed at the Can-Am Region 6 competition May 12-14 in Rochester, with Popular Demand taking fifth place out of 10 quartets.
Chisham had joined the group more than two years ago. A few months later, the members of Popular Demand - Deb Carlson, Deb Hoganson, and Rhonda Maker asked Chisham to be the quartet's tenor.
The women’s barbershop quartet Popular Demand, which consists of Deb Carlson, Rhonda Maker, Wendy Chisham and Deb Hoganson, took fifth place at regional competition in May.
"We thought about doing competition a couple of years ago," Chisham said.
Popular Demand performed at a lot of events in the area, from the Hendricks Hospital Christmas party to the Lyon County Fair to a Soybean Growers Association's event. So the group was ready.
"We've sung a lot together in preparation for competition," Chisham said. "We just really glued."
Chisham said the competition songs are chosen a year ahead of time. Popular Demand worked on the songs "Lilacs," a ballad, and "Where the Black-eyed Susans Grow," an "up tune."
While the quartet worked on its numbers, Chisham had the chorus prepare the songs "Are You Lonesome Tonight" and "Rockabye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody."
"Everything has to be memorized and tweaked," Chisham said.
The quartet and chorus had coaches work with them, including Helen Pedersen of Marshall. Chisham said Popular Demand needed a little encouragement when it came to "Lilacs."
"We had a lot of trouble with it at first and almost dumped it," Chisham said.
It was the first competition for the quartet, so it did not expect to get a place.
"(We thought) it would be great and go there and wow them and maybe next year get a place," Chisham said. "The level of competition is really high."
Chisham said she wasn't as nervous for the chorus during the regional competition, but she was "uncommonly nervous" for the quartet.
"It's nothing I've ever been in before, it's a high level of a cappella singing," Chisham said. "To go out and hear these phenomenal choruses and quartets."
Several of the quartets Popular Demand was up against were from the Twin Cities and Spirit Lake, Iowa.
When the members of Popular Demand learned they won fifth place, their mouths just dropped open, Chisham said.
"I'm proud of them," she said.
Chisham said the chorus will compete again at regions.
"We need to keep in the game," Chisham said.
But Popular Demand will probably not compete at regions again. Chisham said the quartet likes to learn and perform new fresh stuff for events and mixes jokes and stories into its shows. When preparing for competition, the ensemble is working on the same two songs for a year.
"We're glad we went," Chisham said.