This year, thanks to what feels like a never-ending pandemic, BABS was once again forced to cancel its in-person convention weekend. However, building on the success of last year’s BABS Live! show events, the weekend managed to be as jam-packed as any previous convention, perhaps even more so! The convention ran virtually on YouTube from 28th to 30th May with hardly any breaks and there were even shows and afterglows in the evening. The majority of the weekend, when contests would usually be held, were filled with hours and hours of education, entertainment and, best of all, dozens of lockdown video submissions from choruses and quartets from all around the UK.

The education and entertainment events ranged from a barbershop-themed quiz with the Brahams to polecat singing over Jamulus with Grand Central Chorus to (perhaps my favourite) a series of videos in which Hannah Briggs and Sam Hubbard guided us through some of their favourite little-known barbershop videos, fished up from the depths of YouTube. They show off groups from around the world in contest, shows and afterglows and it really is a treat to hear some fantastic, hand-picked barbershop.

There were also the usual Long Service Awards announcements and BABS Hall of Fame inductions, and a very special keynote speech from Blair Brown, lead of international champion quartet, Double Date, and Board member at the Barbershop Harmony Society, who gave a compelling speech about diversity and inclusion in barbershop and what we can be doing to promote it (more on this in a later issue).

Each evening of the weekend saw a different show, on Friday there was the BABS Video Awards Show, which celebrated the best of the best of virtual videos created during lockdown. On Saturday night, the Audience Choice Awards allowed viewers to vote live for their favourite video from a selection of nominees.

Finally, on Sunday night we were once again treated to a tremendous BABS Live! show, with James Gower-Smith and Chris Langworthy from Tagline quartet returning as hosts. The show opened with a hilarious parody of the COVID updates the country has been receiving from PM Boris Johnson and his scientific advisors and continued with interviews, archive footage, and the return of everyone’s favourite Stat-Man, Sam Hubbard. The show rounded off with a premiere of a virtual choir made up of BABS members from across the country singing the new BABS theme song, “It’s All About You”. Congratulations to the whole BABS Live! team for putting on another spectacular event.

The main attraction throughout the days, though, were undoubtedly the Sing2021 Daytime Showcases, which featured several hours’ worth of videos submitted by over dozens of groups around the country. Many were virtual chorus or quartet videos, some were commemorations of the club’s history and past year, and a rare few included live footage of socially distant rehearsals that took place in 2021! Seeing and hearing from such a variety of different friends and familiar faces who had all persevered through probably the toughest year barbershop has ever faced was heart-warming and exhilarating. A huge “thank you” to all those who sent in their videos – it really made the weekend feel as close to a real convention as possible.

Now that we’re on the cusp of freedom and live events again, it’ll be so exciting to all get back together and have a convention in person next year; however, we will always be able to look back on this weekend with pride and know that despite everything, the BABS community came together to put on a great show.

BABS Video Awards Winners

Friday 28th May 2021 saw the first ever BABS Video Awards. The awards were created to celebrate the best of the best of the multitude of virtual chorus and quartet videos that have been produced by barbershoppers around the UK. Each of the awards was presented by a special guest from the barbershop community around the world and each winner was played in full. You can watch the whole show on YouTube here: Without further ado, here are the winners of the first BABS Video Awards:

Best Themed Video, presented by Liz Nolan, Chair of IABS:
Granite City Chorus - The Holly And The Ivy

Best Comedy Video, presented by Midtown, A Vocal Quartet:
Indigo League - Tights of the Round Table

Best Traditional Barbershop Video, presented by Marty Monson, CEO of BHS:
Fifth Element - Day By Day

Most Entertaining Video, presented by Emma Riley, Team Coordinator of SAI Region 31:
Sussex Kings of Harmony - Is This The Way To Amarillo

Most Inspirational Video, presented by Natalie Feddon, Chair of LABBS:
Meantime Chorus - A Million Dreams

Best Senior Quartet, presented by Sound Hypothesis:
One Foot In The Stave - Snug As A Bug In A Rug

Best Non-Barbershop Video, presented by Deke Sharon:
Perfect Storm - It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Best Chorus Video (Male or Mixed), presented by Fusion directors, Tim Briggs and Rosalind Johnson:
Meantime Chorus - Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)

Best Quartet Video, presented by Signature quartet:
Fifth Element - Spider-Man

Audience Choice Awards Winners

On Saturday 29th May, the first BABS Audience Choice Award Show was held during the Sing2021 weekend. The evening was presented by Duncan Whinyates and Andrea Day and each of the nominees were played in full before opening up voting online. The nominees for the evening were:

  • Meantime Chorus – New York, New York
  • Tagline – History
  • MaleVox – The Midlands Big Sing
  • One Foot In The Stave – Snug As A Bug In A Rug
  • Cottontown Chorus – God Only Knows
  • Southern Gentlemen – All My Loving
  • Manchester University Barbershop Singers – Show Me Where The Good Times Are
  • Perfect Storm – On The Street Where You Live
  • Fine City Chorus – Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
  • Portobello Road – Totally
  • The Rolling Hills Chorus – Loch Lomond
  • Capital Christmas – Text Me Merry Christmas
  • Hallmark of Harmony – Without A Song
  • Met44 – I Want It That Way
  • 5Ways - Barbara Ann

And the winners, with 19.8% of the vote, were One Foot In The Stave with Snug As A Bug In A Rug!

Congratulations to them and you can watch the whole show with all the entries at: