It was 40 years ago when Betty Howard first formed a harmonious all-female singing group called The Barbersharps.
For decades, the group was extremely active with local performances – even singing for the governor at Opryland Hotel – before disbanding around three years ago when Howard gave up the position as director.
Now 78 and at NHC, Howard had a special Christmas wish. She wanted to hear The Barbersharps sing again.
Despite not practicing in years, group members were quick to grant Howard her wish. A little more than a week after receiving her request, The Barbersharps put together a brief performance for Howard on Saturday at NHC. There were 16 group members present.
“It takes that many to get the four-part harmony sounding really good,” said Judy Petit, who sang with The Barbersharps for around 30 years. “Four or five of us could have gotten together to sing, but it wouldn’t have sounded right. We wanted as many of us as we could get so we would sound as good as we could.”
Despite her health issues, Howard perked right up when The Barbersharps arrived. She even waved her right arm back and forth as she had done for so many years as the group’s director.
“What a great Christmas present,” said Howard after the performance. “This is so nice of everyone to do this. So nice. They sounded good. They always sounded good. I’m so glad to be here to hear them again.”
In addition to singing, The Barbersharps presented Howard with a pink and white crocheted prayer quilt, or lap blanket, made by Sylvia Stepian. She also received a plaque with a picture of the group in honor of her 40 years of dedication, and a dozen red roses.
“We are here because we love you very much and because you shared your talent and your love for music and your patience with us for over 40 years,” said Starr McVey, who acted as the group’s director for this performance.
Members of The Barbersharps who were present were Sue Allison, Betty Cameron, Pearl Bess Fultz, Mary Hillis, Lynn Jacobs, Jo Lunsford, Sarah McVey, Starr McVey, Judy Petit, Leda Roberts, Sheila Rudge, Joyce Steenwyk, Sylvia Stepian, Carolyn Taylor, Betty Yates and Betty Sue Young.
Howard is described as having good days and bad days at NHC, but she was lively and conversational for The Barbersharps performance. She even wore her red Barbersharps vest.
“It was the best I have seen her since she left home,” said sister-in-law Janice Howard. “She was smiling and very receptive to the performance. We’re so glad they decided to do it.”
In addition to directing The Barbersharps for so many years, Betty is known for her beautiful alto voice.