Composer Statement 2021 for SA Song Assessment

Canada My Home
So long ago that I can’t remember exactly when, I wrote a medley arrangement that included several Canadian folk songs, one being They All Call It Canada. When the time came that arrangers were required by Sweet Adelines International to properly license our charts, I applied to license each song that required it (some were PD). The publisher declined to license They All Call It Canada. I was a bit taken aback, as this was the ‘anchor song’ for the medley. I couldn’t think of another well-known piece that would do, so I wrote one! My wife Yvonne provided some lyric ideas, and later when I published Canada My Home as a stand-alone song, my daughter Meg wrote the lyrics for the second verse. There aren’t a lot of patriotic Canadian songs; we’re kinda low-key about that stuff, you know, quietly proud. At any rate, the medley was saved! Quite a few years later, the medley was revised again, when I learned I had to eliminate This Land Is Your Land, as it was involved a copyright dispute. I gladly replaced it with an updated version of PD song, The Maple Leaf Forever.

Girl Child Born
In the mid-2000s I attended Africa UMOJA, The Spirit of Togetherness at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver BC Canada. Presented by a South African touring company, it told the story, in a gorgeous rich colourful production of singing, drumming, dance and theatre, of the evolution of South African music from its origins to its influence on jazz, gospel and other styles around the world. I was so enthralled that I went back to see it three times. In the months afterward, I was inspired to write this song for Westcoast Harmony Chorus, which I was directing at the time. The lyrics are deeply personal for me – each ‘girl child’ described refers to my daughters, my mum, my grandmother, my wife – but it also honours all the women who have touched my life, and celebrates women universally. It’s written for SSA chorus with 3 soloists, in a call & response, quasi-gospel style. The tag affirms: Celebrate life!

Give Me The Circus Life
I wrote this song/arrangement in 1978 for a much-loved, highly entertaining quartet in Region 26 (then Region 13) who wanted to do a circus-themed set for contest. The Westcoast Impressions (T – Bernice Seale, L – Mary Strong, Br – Dianne Harding, Bs – Deb Waddell) were brave enough to take a chance on the work of a newbie arranger/barbershopper/friend, and won our hearts, if not the competition. This is a swing song, fun to sing, kinda wordy with lots of circus references.

Hey Mister, Stay!
This song was written and arranged when I was newly married to my barbershopper husband. It was published by SA in 1978, and eventually culled from the catalogue due to lack of sales. It is a contestable swing-style love song with lots of barbershop/music references; feels a bit ‘gushy’ now, to be honest, yet it was genuinely meant and felt at the time. The arrangement was recorded in 2004 by The BUZZ on their first cd, Have You Heard The BUZZ, which gave it a kick of popularity (Thank you, BUZZ women!) Epilogue: as happens, life changes occurred. In the end, it was me that didn’t “stay”

Magic Tonight!
Written in 1981 for Burnaby Chorus (later to become Westcoast Harmony Chorus) as an opener for a magic-themed show, in which one of the guests was Mandrake, the Magician! The original lyrics are magic-themed, and that song/arrangement still stands if that’s what you’re looking for. However, it has also been re-written a few times to accommodate different themes, including one version with more general lyrics that could be used to open any set or show. This is a short, fairly easy song in cut time with a challenging ‘descending chromatics’ tag. I do quite enjoy collaborating with folks who want to use the song with different themes – if you have a new idea, please ask!

Song for Irene
In my mid 20s – early 30s, when I was new to barbershop, I went through periods of depression. I had a chorus acquaintance named Irene. She was a Brit, sensible, hilarious, warm and kind, but also able to mete out a swift kick-in-the-pants when it was warranted, and she became a dear friend and confidante, though there were quite a few years difference in our ages. Doncha just love that about barbershop!? Anyway, I wrote this song for her. It’s a short, simple, sweet song of friendship, originally titled What Would I Do Without You, published by SA at one point, culled from the catalogue in 2006 for lack of sales.

The Winners’ Circle
Sometime in the 90s, a ‘chorus of regional quartet champions’ was formed in Region 26, called The Winners’ Circle. I wrote this song for that chorus to perform each year during regional contest weekend, and to use as a welcome song for incoming quartet champions. A few other regions now use it for a similar purpose. It’s quite fun to sing, with a celebratory and inspiring message. A bit challenging range-wise.

Where The Heck is Dixie?
This song was co-written with my friend, quartet tenor, and chorus assistant director, Dianne Harding in the mid-80s. As Canadians with very little relevant frame of reference or life experience, we were perplexed and amused by barbershop’s apparent obsession in repertoire choices – and especially for contest use – with all things “Dixie”. So we wrote this spoof song, poking fun at that strange obsession. In Canada, with barbershop audiences, its performance was generally met with the hilarious laughter we imagined and intended for it to elicit. Fast forward (well…slow forward, tbh, such an unfortunately slow forward) to 2016 when I met a group of women who would elevate my understanding of the “Dixie” issue to a different level. In August 2017 I authored #donewithdixie on my Vocal Arrangements Facebook page, having archived this chart along with several others. This song is no longer available to anyone, anywhere, but I feel like I must be honest in acknowledging its existence, as I continue to learn and grow in barbershop, and as a human.

(c) 2021 Joey Minshall

rev 27.04.21

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