They’ve got the voices, they’ve got the fans, and now they’ve got the bling that tells the world they’re the best.
The Frenzy Quartet recently returned from Las Vegas, where the Sweet Adelines group won the 2017 international quartet championships, announced Anne Downton, the lone Canadian member of her team, who hails from Langley.
Beating out 43 other quartets from around the globe, they won not once, but twice at the competition.
For the third year running, they garnered the most entertaining audience choice award. But, what has Downton bouncing off the walls still, is that they were also crowned the “Queens of Harmony” taking first-place in the quartet competition.
“I’m still in shock… It’s really cool, since I grew up in this organization,” Downton told the Langley Advance.
“I’m in awe that I am in that group of people that I spent more than half my life looking up to,” added the Willougby woman, who began singing when she was 13 and competed in her first Sweet Adelines competition at age 15.
Downton, 29, is the quartet’s baritone and director of the Surrey-based Westcoast Harmony Chorus – which was also in Vegas competing in the chorus category.
While Downton is a legal assistant and said she is “firmly rooted” in Langley, she is accompanied in the Frenzy Quartet by three women who hail from Washington State: lead singer Nikki Blackmer, tenor Melissa Pope, and the bass Judy Pozsgay.
Since Frenzy’s inception six years ago, the goal has been to win the title, the literal crowns, and the bragging rights that go along with it, Downton said.
The crown is still sitting on Downton’s living room table, waiting for her and hubby Pat (who is also a singer) to build a special display box.
“Every time I look at it, I’m in disbelief all over again,” Downton said.
The singers make frequent trips north and south to rehearse, a challenge that has only made them stronger, Downton said.
But most often, the quartet practising twice a month in Kenmore, Wash. – a two-hour drive each way, door to door, for Downton.
In the last few months leading up to the championships, however, the foursome has been getting together “pretty much” every weekend.
“We’re pretty serious about it,” she said, explaining that they’ve brought in several coaches to help them improve.
Some of these women she has known for years, and some she had sung with before on choruses or other quartets.
All are competitive singers and coaches with decades of experience in the a cappella barbershop style, she explained.
The quartet has literally been working towards this title, since the group was first formed in 2010.
During 2011, they won the regions and qualified to go to the international, where they came in eighth. Placing in the top 15 automatically secured them an invite back the next year, where they placed fourth. In 2013, they placed seventh, in 2014 they placed fifth, and last year they placed second.
Within weeks of wrapping up at last year’s championships, Frenzy members have been preparing for this year’s show and planning the finale package that earned them the gold this time around.
Of the 44 teams who competed in the semi-finals – each performing two songs – only 10 made it to the finals.
In the finals, each quartet must present what Downton describes as a 12- to 15- minute entertainment package that judges will score based on sound, music, expression, showmanship, and overall entertainment.
One song has to be a strong barbershop-style number, then the rest is a free-for-all, she said. For Frenzy, their main number was I Never Knew. They mixed in snippets from the Beatle’s song Help, as well as from Hero, Baritone Blues, and I’m a Mid-Aged Woman. They also performed the full renditions of Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You and Holding Out For a Hero.
There were Sweet Adeline quartets from England, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada all competing for the title.
“This year’s success in Las Vegas is the first win for a quartet in the U.S. region since 1962,” Downton explained.
And, Frenzy is only the third group with members from Canada to win this competition since 1947.
Given their recent victory in Vegas, Frenzy cannot compete in the international competition ever again. Individual members can compete again with other quartets or choruses, but as a unit, they can only win once.
While there is no higher ranking for the group to aspire to, they will be given various opportunities to perform at international conventions and other events representing the Sweet Adelines.
“Some quartets stay together for many, many years after they win, just trying to get better, and others break up and form new quartets so they can compete again,” Downton explained.
“We’ve decided we’ll stay together and continue to learn new skills, and get better – we’ll see what the future holds for us.”
They have already started receiving invitations to perform at various shows across the U.S. and have a tentative invite to sing in Germany next year.