Honoree: Sounds of Renown (VLQ)
Sponsor: James Erickson
The Sounds of Renown very large quartet (VLQ) owes its beginning–likely in late 2003–to Joe Houser and Curt Brekke. They arranged a couple of pre-vlq trials of potential members with Mary Dick, a voice coach, close friend and often companion of Commodores endeavors and much more. Subsequently, arrangements were made with Brent Graham to be its first coach on a sustained basis. The group was briefly called “Joe’s Boys” but then chose to be known as “Sounds of Renown” thereafter. Representatives for all four parts were approached and charter members, Dan Williams, Gordy Aumann, Jim Erickson, John Carlotto, and Peter Jarnberg, are still active Commodores as of 2020. SOR’s purpose was to enhance singing skills initially through regular weekly coaching sessions, provide camaraderie, entertain a variety of audiences through sing-outs, perform Singing Valentines, appear in various Commodore concerts and more. Generally consisting of about ten members, it varied from time to time as some members cycled through the organization.
(In 2004, a nameless VLQ was formed to perform More Than Just A Friendat that year’s annual concert and some of the later SOR’s members sang in that earlier group.)
While it is difficult to determine how much this coaching contributed to the improvement of the whole Commodore chorus, there is no doubt it enhanced the skills of the individual singers and the chorus itself. And, each week SOR members were glad to pay for the coaching time and effort as part of a rather unique arrangement in the Barbershop organization. Coaching sessions were usually an hour long just prior to the Commodore weekly 2.5-hour rehearsal. Oftentimes, those sessions were more like private vocal instructions than group coaching. In the group’s later years, they even brought in exceptional performance coach, Theresa Weatherbee, to stage a few of their numbers. SOR’s performance of For the Longest Timebrought down the house!
SOR’s first concert appearance was in 2005 at the annual Commodores concert, “Sentimental Journey,” where they sang Chattanooga Choo Choo. Over its existence SOR sang many standard songs, but often, some originally arranged versions were performed. One that comes to mind is the April 16, 2016Way Out Westannual concert combination of Route 66with Happy Trailswhich was acrobatically arranged by Brent Graham. Fun to sing and an interesting challenge.
In later years, there was a summer recess except for summer concerts prep, and eventually a transition to fewer than weekly meetings. After almost fourteen years, SOR’s final performance was at the 2017 annual concert, Barbershop Rocks, where they sang Blue Moon.The group disbanded after that.
Among various community performances, the VLQ became one of the most requested entertainment groups throughout the years for annual fund-raising events at Maynards Restaurant in Excelsior, Minn. Always generously supported, funding of many local organizations went hand in hand with an evening of VLQ entertainment to the delight of the patrons.
SOR members treasure the many memories of their participation in this singing experience and enthusiastically responded when asked to support obtaining this riser banner.
Here is a list (to the best of my knowledge and research) of the coaches and 28 members over the years.
*Charter members of SOR in 2003