By Pat Brown
Two local groups of vocal performers are joining voices to bring music to the New River Valley on Sunday, April 30, at 3 p.m. in Warm Hearth Village’s Tall Oaks Hall.
Blue Ridge Vocal Connection (BRVC) will perform selections from their “Little Bit Country; Little Bit Rock ‘n’ Roll” repertoire, and the Wilderness Road Chorus will sing lively and inspirational barber shop harmonies from their collection.
Audience members can expect solos, duos and even violin and guitar accompaniment during the BRVC portion of the show, which will include nearly a dozen songs.
Thomas DeBusk, a local attorney, is director of BRVC, which he organized in 2021. The group’s accompanist, and violin player for the evening, is Staley Lyle, of Roanoke. Mark Freeman, a tenor, helps the group with song selections and music distribution.
“I love music,” DeBusk said. “It moves me and I want to share that with other people.”
Forming a chorus “requires a great deal of effort,” he says, but he is willing to work with his singers until they all “are able to give back.” DeBusk, who struggled as a youth with his musical pursuits, is very sympathetic. There is no audition for joining this group.
On Sunday, members of the Wilderness Road Chorus will join the women of BRVC to sing Dolly Parton’s plaintive “Jolene.” A Johnny Cash medley will include only male voices and will meld parts of “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire,” and “Ghost Riders.”
BRVC will also sing on the evening of June 3 at Pembroke’s Cruise-In event. Additional summer and fall performances are in the planning stage, and, like last year, the group will prepare a Christmas program.
Wilderness Road Chorus (WRC) has performed in the New River Valley for 37 years. For the past 15 years their director has been Lavelva Stevens, of Pulaski. The chorus is an a capella group that performs barbershop style music with no accompaniment.
Recently the 16-member chorus participated in a women’s health event at the Goodwill Thrift Store in Christiansburg. They taught others about the health benefits of singing and invited people to sing along. During the pandemic, the group even performed with masks on at Warm Hearth in Blacksburg rather than give up their musical pursuits. They have sung the National Anthem at Calfee Park and have done performances at visitor centers and other public events. They annually prepare a Christmas repertoire. They expect to perform at the Pulaski Theater July 4 to honor Vietnam veterans.
Tall Oaks Hall is the building that includes Warm Hearth’s fitness and pool facilities.