20 years of singing

SCOTTISH historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle once wrote, “Music is well said to be the speech of angels,” and a musical group of East Ohioans has been conveying that “speech” for two decades.

After all those years of performing, Barb’s Boys will present a special concert as “a celebration of 20 years of singing old favorites as well as new numbers,” according to Barbara Jeffries, founder and director of the group.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church sanctuary, Marietta and Woodrow streets, St. Clairsville.

Refreshments, prepared by wives and friends of Barb’s Boys, will be served after the concert.

Varied music such as “God Bless America,” “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “God Bless The USA” will be included in the concert.

Barb’s Boys includes 12 singers, and the men are from seven area churches. Jeffries said they are from all walks of life with some retired and others in the workplace.

Jeffries added the Oct. 11 event is in recognition of First Presbyterian Church’s allowing the group to practice there for 20 years.

Since being organized in 1989, the group has traveled an untold number of miles to present more than 600 programs. Its repertoire includes sacred, secular, gospel, spirituals and patriotic music.

Gary Bohrer will serve as master of ceremonies for the Oct. 11 concert, and Bud Smith will narrate for a medley of patriotic songs. There also will be a medley of gospel music.

Included in the group in addition to Bohrer and Smith are Corey Alexander, Lucien Murzyn, Barry Hess, Orville Blackmore, Gene Thoenen, Richard Jenkins, Andy Wildman, Mark Kreiter, Jim Gray and Sam Hartley.

Accompanists are Joyce Carson and Linda Alexander. Carson is director of music at the First Presbyterian Church, St. Clairsville, and Alexander is director of music at the Flushing United Methodist Church and secretary at the Calvary Presbyterian Church.

The medley of patriotic songs, which was devised by Jeffries, will include such songs as “Rally Round the Flag, Boys” and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Among the songs also planned for the concert are “River In Judea, “How Great Thou Art,” “It Is Well With My Soul,” “Victory In Jesus” “It Is No Secret” and “Beautiful Savior.”

Jeffries noted that Carson, now one of the group’s two accompanists, was the instigator for Barb’s Boys as she suggested that Jeffries organize a group of singers after she retired from her musical duties in the St. Clairsville-Richland School District.

While working in the school district, Jeffries founded the award-winning St. C. Singers.

Not only has she received awards related to the St. C. Singers and Barb’s Boys, but she received a state award for Barb’s Boys in 2003. That was the Ovation Award for District 4, which is one of five districts in the state and includes counties in Southeastern Ohio.

Ovation Awards are presented to recipients “for instilling and inspiring the love and discipline of vocal music through their work with children, adults and communities throughout Ohio.”

Pointing out how much she enjoys music, Jeffries said she always was singing “even as a kid.” After graduation from Barnesville High School, she received her musical education at Baldwin-Wallace College’s Conservatory of Music.

A former choir director at the Calvary Presbyterian Church, she currently is assistant director of the First Presbyterian Church choir and sings with that choir in St. Clairsville.

Music is not the only interest in the Jeffries family as pharmacy also plays an important part. Her husband, Jim, is a retired pharmacist, and their two sons also are pharmacists. One son, Joe, is director of pharmacy at Barnesville Hospital while John is director of pharmacy at the Bellaire Clinic. The family also includes a daughter, Judy, a resident of Charlotte, N.C.

Enthusiastic when describing the music for next Sunday’s concert, Jeffries said, “Please join us for the fun, fellowship and delicious food.”

Pokas can be reached at timesleader@timesleaderonline.com.