Sweet Adelines International

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Sweet Adelines International
SAI logo.jpg
Background information
OriginTulsa, Oklahoma
GenresA Cappella
Barbershop music
Years active1945–present
Membersclose to 21,000

Sweet Adelines International is a worldwide organization of women singers, established in 1945, committed to advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education and performances. This independent, nonprofit music education association is one of the world's largest singing organizations for women.[1] "Harmonize the World" is the organization's motto.[2] It has a current membership of 23,000 and holds an annual international singing competition.[3]


Sweet Adelines International was established in 1945 by Edna Mae Anderson of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The aim was to teach and train its members in music and to create and promote barbershop quartets and other musical groups.[4] She gathered a group of women who wanted to participate in the "chord-ringing, fun-filled harmony" that their husbands, members of the men's Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA), were singing. SPEBSQSA has since changed its name to the Barbershop Harmony Society.

By year's end, the first chapter incorporated in Oklahoma with Anderson as its president. It had 85 members and a chapter name, Atomaton (for "an atom of an idea and a ton of energy") that recognized the Atomic Age.

Sweet Adelines went international on March 23, 1953 when the first chapter outside the U.S. was chartered in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. Even though there were international chapters, it was not until May 1991 that the name officially changed to Sweet Adelines International.

In 1957, Harmony, Incorporated split from Sweet Adelines over a dispute regarding admission of black members. SPEBSQSA and Sweet Adelines at that time restricted their membership to whites, but both opened membership to all races a few years later.[5]

Today, Sweet Adelines International has a very diverse membership that spans the globe. The organization includes women from a wide range of backgrounds who love to sing.[citation needed]


In 2012 Sweet Adelines International claimed a membership of 24,000 women,[6] all singing in English, includes choruses in most of the fifty United States as well as in Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, Wales and the Netherlands.[2] Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the organization encompasses more than 1,200 registered quartets and 600 choruses.[6]


Region Name Approximate location Map [1]
1 North Atlantic Eastern Canada, North-Eastern USA [2]
2 Border Lakes Ontario, Michigan [3]
3 Midwest Harmony Illinois [4]
4 Harmony Heartland Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia [5]
5 Spirit of the Midwest Iowa, Illinois, Missouri [6]
6 Northern Lights North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota [7]
8 Rocky Mountain Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming [8]
9 Atlantic Gulf Florida [9]
10 Great Gulf Coast Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas [10]
11 Sequoia Pacifica California, Nevada [11]
12 Pacific Shores California, Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii [12]
13 North by Northwest Montana, Washington, Alaska, Oregon [13]
14 Heart of the Blue Ridge North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia [14]
15 Greater NYNJ New Jersey, New York [15]
16 Lake Ontario Ontario, New York [16]
17 Great Lakes Harmony Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York [17]
19 Atlantic Bay-Mountain Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania [18]
21 Golden West Arizona, California, New Mexico [19]
25 Heart of America Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee [20]
26 Canadian Maple Leaf Western Canada [21]
30 Satellite region Rest of the world
31 Quartet of Nations United Kingdom, Ireland, The Netherlands
32 Nordic Light Finland, Sweden
34 Southern Cross Australia [22]
35 New Zealand New Zealand [23]

For organizational purposes, all choruses and quartets affiliate to SAI as members of a geographic "region", each region being approximately the same size in terms of total SAI members. The number and boundaries of the regions are adjusted periodically and as of 2015 there are 28 active regions numbered 1–35. (Region numbers 7, 18, 20, 24, 27–29, and 33 no longer exist, and were merged into neighboring regions.) Corresponding to its popularity and origin in the US, the vast majority of regions are allocated to geographic areas of the USA. This is followed by five regions allocated to Canada, one each to Australia and New Zealand, one each to Great Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands, and Finland and Sweden. A final "satellite" region is reserved for anywhere else in the world.[7][8]

International Convention and Competition[edit]

In 1947, the organization held a convention as a means to gather all members together in a group forum. A contest was held for the best female barbershop quartet in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The winners that first year were the Decaturettes from Decatur, Illinois. The members were Viola Phillips singing Tenor, Mary Minton singing Lead, Myrtle Vest singing Baritone, and Eva Adams singing Bass.

In 1973, the organization held its first international chorus competition in Washington, D.C. The contest presented a new and exciting experience for all competing Sweet Adelines. With 64 members on stage singing Heart of My Heart/That Old Gang of Mine medley and There's a New Gang on the Corner, Racine Chorus from Racine, Wisconsin were the first chorus to receive the "international champion chorus" title. With Racine Chorus' international win, chorus director Jarmela Speta, member of 1955 International Champion The Nota-Belles, became the first of only six Sweet Adelines to win gold medals as both a chorus director and a quartet member.

World's largest singing lesson[edit]

Sweet Adelines International set the Guinness World Record for Largest Singing Lesson on October 24, 2009, at 7:30 p.m. The record-setting event coincided with the 63rd annual International Convention and Competition held at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tennessee.[9]

Music professional and past Sweet Adelines International Quartet Champion Peggy Gram led the lesson by demonstrating inspiring techniques for integrating the voice into the art form. The venue was filled with sound as 6,651 singers practiced the demonstrated techniques and sang simultaneously for the duration of the 10-minute lesson.

Guinness World Records official adjudicator Danny Girton Jr. presided over the certificate ceremony to validate the record and confirm that the achievement met the criteria set forth by the organization.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Donaldson, Samantha E. (December 14, 2012). "In tune with the season: Local singers are Sweet Adelines". The Tennessean. Gannett. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Press Room". sweetadelineintl.org. Sweet Adelines International. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  3. ^ NPR Staff (July 11, 2015). "Sweet Adelines, A Society Of Women In Harmony, Hits A Milestone". NPR. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  4. ^ "History of Sweet Adelines International". sweetadelines.com. Sweet Adelines International. Archived from the original on September 13, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  5. ^ Gage Averill (2003). Four Parts, No Waiting. Oxford University Press. 978-0195328936., p. 132–133: "The split occurred after the 1957 convention in Miami, at which the outgoing board introduced a resolution to restrict membership to Caucasians... no one was aware of any black singers who had petitioned to join the organization... the board argued that there had always been a tacit agreement about racial exclusion and that it was time to formalize this policy.... in the aftermath... chapters split, quartets broke up, members resigned, and arguments ensued at all levels of the organization... starting in July 1958 a number of northern chapters dropped out of Sweet Adelines... and met in Providence, Rhode Island... to start [Harmony, Incorporated.]
  6. ^ a b Steffen, Jordan (November 4, 2012). "Sweet Adelines hold annual competition in Denver". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  7. ^ "Regions". Sweet Adelines International. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Sweet Adelines International – Regions". Barbershop Wiki Project. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Largest singing lesson". Guinness World Records. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
  10. ^ Ayers, Will (October 28, 2009). "Barbershop singers set Guinness record at Nashville convention". The Tennessean. Gannett. Retrieved January 11, 2013.

External links[edit]