Judy Bowen said that when she retired, “it was like, ‘What can I do that won’t kill me?’ Singing was a good choice.”
Bowen, a southwest Las Vegas resident, fondly remembered how much she enjoyed singing at school decades ago, so she joined the Las Vegas-based Lady Luck Showtime Chorus.
The first rehearsal was intimidating, Bowen said, but once that feeling passed, she loved it — particularly, the experience of creating something with a group. “It’s kind of an overwhelming experience.”
Now, Bowen is the all-female chorus’ president and the relatively new ensemble is celebrating large milestones.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman recently designated July 13 — which is Barbershop Music Appreciation Day — as “Lady Luck Showtime Chorus Appreciation Day,” following a request from the chorus. The ensemble marked the occasion June 13 with a party at chorus member Jennifer Ringler’s home in Green Valley.
The 60-plus member ensemble performs in four-part a capella barbershop-style harmony. The chorus — affiliated with the nonprofit Sweet Adelines International — started with six members but grew through word-of-mouth.
The Lady Luck Showtime Chorus — which is in its fourth year — is preparing for Sweet Adelines’ 73rd annual International Convention and Competition in September in New Orleans. The ensemble qualified by winning a regional contest in 2018 in Bakersfield, California.
“We just never thought we’d win because we’re a brand new chorus,” master director Linda Kelly said Saturday.
Participating in the international competition is pricey — about $1,500 per person — so some members have taken a hiatus from the group, Kelly said.
There aren’t rigorous requirements to join.
“We like to get people who can carry a tune,” Kelly said, and who love to sing. Members come from all over the Las Vegas area. The youngest is 13 and the oldest just turned 87.
Kelly — a Summerlin resident — said she loves hearing chords sung in close harmony when the notes match up just right.
“It makes you feel humble and, at the same time, overwhelmed,” she said. And she enjoys the tail end of a song when there are “yummy kinds of progressions,” she said.
The chorus has choreographed dances to go along with its songs.
“It keeps you young because you have to memorize the notes and moves,” Kelly said.
As Kelly talked about the ensemble Saturday during the party, women congregated in the kitchen to chat, eat and drink — and of course, break out into spontaneous song.
How the chorus started
Kelly has been a Sweet Adeline since 1977 and has directed affiliated choirs for all but two of the years since.
She directed a Las Vegas ensemble from 1995 to 2005 that took eighth place at the international Sweet Adelines competition. She also took two golds during her time with a Scottsdale, Arizona, ensemble.
Kelly moved away from Las Vegas in 2005 and returned in 2010. Some people were begging her to start another chorus, she said, but she didn’t want to right away because the timing wasn’t right.
Finally, she and several other women decided to launch a new chorus in fall 2016 and started recruiting members.
In addition to a wide range of ages, the chorus includes a couple of mother-daughter duos, including 13-year-old Bianca Miller and her mother, Danielle Miller.
The Millers have been in the Lady Luck Showtime Chorus for a year. Bianca was interested in joining a chorus after watching her brother sing in a barbershop group.
The Lady Luck Showtime Chorus is like a family, Bianca said. “Everyone is so nice to each other.”
How to join
The Lady Luck Showtime Chorus rehearses from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Mondays at the Blind Center of Nevada, 1001 N. Bruce St. in Las Vegas. Anyone who’s interested in joining the chorus is welcome.
For more information, visit ladyluckshowtimechorus.org.