Founder member celebrates 80th birthday – on stage!

Olive Ryder

All of us at Second City Sound are sending our congratulations and wishing many happy returns to our founder member, Olive Ryder.

Ever the dedicated performer, Olive is celebrating her 80th birthday by joining us in competing at the IABS Convention, in Cork. We’re thrilled that she’s chosen to spend her special day with us.

Our chorus started in 1990. Olive and her late friend Jean, discovered an interest in barbershop singing when their husbands were members of the Anvil Chorus. The two ladies and their husbands raised funds from car boot sales in order to pay for hall hire and to launch a ladies’ chorus.

13 women attended the first rehearsals and so Second City Sound was born.

In the early days, the chorus lacked experience of singing in the barbershop style, and did not yet have a music director. Members of a chorus in Derby used to visit to provide coaching, until a member of the Anvil Chorus stepped in.

Today, Rod Butcher is our director — although, with a mere 21 years in post, he’s still a newcomer!

Members of the chorus have sent a few photos of those early days.

Happy Birthday, Olive!

Carol, Olive, Jean and Brenda - September 1993
Carol, Olive, Jean and Brenda – September 1993
Second City Sound - 1990s - directed by John Brackpool
Second City Sound – 1990s – directed by John Brackpool
Second City Sound - Old Time Chorus Line, November 1993
Second City Sound – Old Time Chorus Line, November 1993
Second City Sound - Toy Story. LABBS Convention, 2017
Second City Sound – Toy Story. LABBS Convention, 2017

New member’s first competition

SCS member - Pat
SCS member – Pat

Newbie Pat, who joined the Chorus in May after attending a six week singing course, will be going to her first competition in Cork at IABS next week.

She says she has found it hard work but the friendly and welcoming group encouraged her to join the rest of the Chorus when they travel to Ireland on 5 October and she is really looking forward to it.

We’ll catch up with Pat in Ireland!

Second City Sound prepares for IABS Convention

chorus photo


chorus photo
Chorus photo at September 2018 coaching session

Excitement is building among members of Second City Sound, as we prepare for the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers (IABS) Convention in Cork, on 5-7 October. It’s been a while since our last trip to IABS, and we are looking forward to entertaining the audience and catching up with old friends.

We’ve been hard at work, preparing our contest package — with the help of our MD, Rod Butcher and visiting coach, Dale Kynaston. As ever, Dale and Rod found the happy balance between encouragement and correction. We ended today’s coaching session feeling confident that we can put on a good show, and enjoy it, too!

Rod, Dale and Helen in conversation
Rod, Dale and Helen know the score

As Convention gets closer, we’ll be posting regular updates on our Facebook page, so please do follow us to hear the latest news.

Singout at Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell Jazz Festival

SCS at Birmingham Jazz Festival
Birmingham Solihull and Sandwell Jazz Festival.
© Photo Merlin Daleman

A jazz festival isn’t an obvious choice for a barbershop chorus, but we are always glad to reach a new audience!

We were delighted to be invited to sing at BBC Birmingham, as part of the Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell Jazz Festival on 21 July. Hosted by Radio WM’s Jenny Wilkes and performing under the direction of Assistant MDs Helen Brown and Jo Wilson, we sang two half-hour sets to an appreciative crowd.

We even received a lovely original sketch, as a memento — and, of course, we had to ask Jenny for a photo!

Sketch of Second City Sound at Birmingham Jazz Festival
Sketch of Second City Sound at Birmingham Jazz Festival (artist unknown)
SCS with the BBC's Jenny Wilkes at the Birmingham Jazz Festival
SCS with the BBC’s Jenny Wilkes


LABBS quartet prelims

Nearly as much fun as singing, is listening – to some fantastic quartets. This year’s LABBS quartet prelims took place in Birmingham on 23 June. Although both our quartets (Jiggle and City Girls) are taking a break from competition this year, we showed our competitive spirit and Brummie hospitality with a fine display of home-made cakes. There may also have been a little bit of singing going on in the kitchen.

Congratulations to all the quartets who qualified and will now compete at the LABBS Convention in Harrogate, in October.

SCS members on catering duty at quartet prelims
SCS members quality-checking the cakes
Mandy and Elaine at quartet prelims
Mandy and Elaine making hundreds of cups of tea!


Mary and Sue at quartet prelims
Mary and Sue on cashier duties