Nelson Bays Harmony Chorus was formed in 1993 by an enthusiastic group of women who loved the different sound of barbershop harmony.
Several of these founding members still sing with the chorus, which now has around 40 members from across the Nelson region – women from all age groups and from all walks of life. We share a love of singing and have a lot of fun learning and improving our craft.
We perform for community and private events and occasionally put on shows and concerts. We run singing courses and as part of our commitment to sing and perform with excellence we regularly compete at the national women’s barbershop competition, hosted by Sweet Adelines NZ.
Barbershop singing was originally a male dominated craft born in the southern States of USA, but now approximately 30,000 women belong to barbershop choruses around the world, under the guidance of Sweet Adelines International.
Nelson Bays Harmony is one of 16 choruses in NZ who are affiliated with Sweet Adelines, an organisation dedicated to vocal training and education in the barbershop craft. This is a wonderful network and a vast resource for sheet music, vocal training material and world class vocal coaches.
Nelson Bays Harmony is lucky to have a large range of talent and skills amongst our members. Our Co-Directors are Alex Charlton and Eileen Smith. Alex brings a fresh approach to the directing role and has taken on the task of training the chorus for our contest package in Auckland in May 2023. Eileen works with Alex on all the other aspects of the directing role as well as our normal musical repertoire.
Eileen grew up in a world of music. Singing around the piano with eight brothers and sisters was a large part of family life. Harmony was as natural as breathing. She continued this into her school years performing in shows and concerts.
Throughout her teaching career, Eileen took on leadership roles running school singing, choirs, classroom music programmes and directing the music in Shows.
Eileen joined Nelson Bays Harmony in 2001 and has been hooked on Barbershop Music ever since.
Over the years she has attended many Regional Events and Director Training workshops, as well as gaining experience from National and International coaches. At these events she has sung with large and small choruses.
Her chorus leadership experience includes over 15 years as Section leader and then Assistant Director. From July– Dec 2021 she became Co-director and then Sole director until Alex was appointed in June 2022.
“NBHC is a close-knit group of singers with a clearly laid out Vision and Musical goals to achieve. It is a pleasure to work with such a talented group who take on any challenge, musical or social with enthusiasm, supporting each other and having fun along the way.”
Alex was exposed to barbershop singing at the tender age of 11 at a friend’s mothers quartet rehearsal! The mother was also the director of the Young Women in Harmony Barbershop Chorus at Cashmere High school in Christchurch. Alex joined this chorus in 2004 and was instantly hooked! She and 3 of her friends formed a quartet, Zesty, who won the National Young Women in Harmony competitions in 2006 and 2007. The group then went on to represent New Zealand at the Rising Star Competition in 2008 where they placed 7th.
After a 10 year hiatus, due to study and work commitments, Alex re-joined as a full Sweet Adelines member, singing with the Greater Auckland Chorus. In 2019 Alex moved to Napier and joined the Sounds of Hawkes Bay chorus. She was soon invited to join the Music team and there started her leadership journey. After the first COVID lockdown, Alex and her partner Regan made the move to sunny Nelson to be closer to family, and not long after that Alex found the wonderful singers of Nelson Bays Harmony!
From 2019-2022 Alex sang tenor with Auckland-based The Low-Down Quartet who placed 3rd in the 2022 Sweet Adelines NZ regional contest, and 2nd Women’s quartet and 9th overall in the 2022 Barbershop Harmony NZ national contest.
Alex joined the NBHC music team in 2021 and the following year took the plunge, becoming musical co-director alongside Eileen Smith.
In her day-to-day life Alex is a chef and owner of The Blooming Baker Cakery.
“NBHC has offered me so many opportunities to grow. The support and positive community that they have created is second to none. Of this, I am so grateful and couldn’t think of a better group of ladies to go on this journey with!”