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2023 Mens Choirs: Part Two

Mens choirs may get the most mileage out of any category of groups in show choir. They are often one of the ‘must-see’ shows of a competition, despite rarely making finals or being in serious contention to have one of the best shows of the day. They aren’t quite rare enough to be unicorns but are much less numerous than womens groups. This is the second of a three-part series that chronicles all mens choirs that competed in 2023.


Alabama

Auburn “Men at Work” – Men at Work came into existence for the 2019 season, when longtime Auburn director Eron Smith expanded his program to three groups. The group found immediate success, transferring into finals at Jasper in only its third competition ever. Men at Work found success again in 2020, winning the mens division at Opelika over Tift County. It made a sole appearance in 2021, placing third in an overall single-gender division at Oak Mountain. Coming out of the pandemic, it had an undefeated season in 2022, sweeping mens divisions at Tallassee, Opelika and Homewood. The group continued to roll in 2023, not losing to any groups during local competitions. At FAME Show Choir America, Men at Work placed third in the single-gender division behind Auburn’s girls group, Elan, and Sauk Prairie.


Tallassee “Gold Edition” – Tallassee is a unique case in the show choir world. For a while, the 550-student school fielded womens and mens groups, but not a mixed group. Gold Edition has a history that dates back at least 15 years. Despite the reintroduction of a mixed group in 2021, Gold Edition has stayed strong, running a three-competition slate each of the past two years. In 2023, the group started off the season at Albertville, finishing second in division. It then was third at Opelika in a meetup of all three mens groups in the South. At Homewood, Gold Edition was the only mens choir.


Georgia

Tift County “Tiftostertone” – When Scott Rains came to Tift County after 2014, he turned the program from one that didn’t contend into the most consistent Georgia power. Eventually, the program added a mixed prep group in 2019, and Tiftostertone came along in 2020. While it is not the only mens group to be named after testostertone, it does have a unique flair to its name. Tiftostertone won two mens divisions during its inaugural season in 2020 and competed in both virtual and in-person competitions in 2021. After not winning any divisions in 2021 or 2022, the group rebounded in 2023 to win two of its four outings, including an overall single-gender win at Lakeside.


Iowa

Rock Valley “Rocket Shop” – A school situated on US 18 in the middle of the Sioux Falls-Sioux City show choir belt, Rock Valley is the smallest school this year to field a mens choir, coming in at only 288 students. When the pandemic hit, Clay Ackerman split his mixed group, Valley Voices, into a womens group that retained that name and a new mens group, Rocket Shop. The group has competed at Emmetsburg all three years of existence and has also made appearances at Bishop Heelan.


Sioux City East “Entourage” – Entourage, like Rocket Shop, finds its genesis in the pandemic. The group didn’t compete at all in 2021, during legendary director Tom Hales’ last year with SCE. New program head Jeremy Hess and longtime assistant Nikki Fenton took over directing duties in 2022, and led Entourage to two placements in six competitions. New Sioux City East Middle School director Dylan Larsen picked up the group in 2023. While two competitions split Entourage into its own division, it competed three times in overall single-gender divisions, placing second at Bishop Heelan.


Kansas

Blue Valley “Select Blend” – After Sam Dollins managed to get a mens group going at Atchison, a rather small school, it was almost a given that one would appear at Blue Valley, where Dollins took the job after the 2019-2020 school year. The group debuted in 2022, delayed by a year due to the pandemic. It won the mens division in its first-ever comp, beating Neosho at Pleasant Hill. A finals appearance at Lincoln Northeast also highlighted the group’s progress in its rookie season. Competing in a Missouri circuit where many competitions have dedicated mens divisions, Select Blend took home another division win at Pleasant Hill and was second at Nevada in 2023. It did not place in Platte County’s overall prep division.


Minnesota

Totino-Grace “Testostertones” – Records for the group date back to 2008, where the group immediately started off strong, making finals at Albert Lea and the Grand River Nationals. The group has seen four directors in the last five years, including the last year of Terry Voss’ long tenure at TG, a lone season of Adam Miller, another one-off with James Delgado during the pandemic, and two years of Philip Brown after the pandemic. In 2023, T-Tones competed three times, all in overall single-gender divisions. They placed first at Altoona, second at North St. Paul and third at Hastings.


Missouri

Neosho “Phenomenon” – Riding on the momentum of one of the hottest programs in Missouri, Neosho created Phenomenon for the 2022 season. It ran a full five-competition slate and won the mens division at Carthage and the overall prep division at Platte County. In 2023, Phenomenon competed six times, winning the mens division and qualifying for finals at Nevada. It also recorded second-place finishes in mens divisions at Pleasant Hill, Joplin and Carthage. It did not place in Platte County’s overall prep division or Wheaton Warrenville South’s combined single-gender division.


Pleasant Hill “Powerhouse” – The most historically dominant program in western Missouri, Pleasant Hill added a mens group to its arsenal in 2016. Like many mens groups, Powerhouse started strong, winning a combined single-gender division during its very first competition, at Rock Bridge. The group has won its division at least once every year of its existence. Additionally, it has made finals at Smith-Cotton and Harrisonville. In 2023, still shepherded by the longtime leadership team of director Karen Dollins and choreographer Chris Kindle, Powerhouse claimed division wins at Blue Valley and Joplin and also made finals at Jenks as part of a five-competition slate.


Webb City “DoMENance” – Note to any directors considering starting a mens group: testostertone puns are tired. Do some other pun like this one! DoMENance was a pre-pandemic invention, debuting in the 2020 season. Competing in mainly overall single-gender divisions at that point, the group won the division at Mt. Vernon and turned in a finals appearance at Nevada, placing sixth. It did not win any divisions in 2021 or 2022 despite having full competition schedules. In 2023, DoMENance competed a whopping seven times. It recorded three third-place finishes, a second place at Blue Valley, and a division win at Carthage to close out the season.


Nebraska

Columbus “Baker’s Dozen” – Located in east-central Nebraska, Columbus as a whole generally stays in local, lesser-known competitions. Baker’s Dozen first appeared at the 2020 Central City festival sanctioned by the Nebraska Choral Directors Association. It has been a staple of the festival ever since, only missing a cancelled 2021 edition.


Papillion-La Vista “Monarcy”- Papio had a mixed prep group, In Motion, for over a decade when Tyler Buglewicz changed things up after 2019. In Motion went away and in came Monarchy, a mens choir. In what is a familiar trope now, it made finals in its first-ever competition, at crosstown Papillion-La Vista South. It ran the table in 2020, sweeping prep and mens divisions after that and twice beating Elkhorn Nexus, the only other Omaha-area mens group at the time. Monarchy tallied a finals appearance and two prep division wins in 2022 before really coming on strong in 2023. It made finals in three of five competitions, placing sixth at Omaha Burke, Lincoln Southwest and Bishop Heelan. Competing fully in prep divisions by then, Monarchy also grabbed second in division at Gretna and Lincoln East.


Oklahoma

Lexington “Testostertones” – Located on the extreme southern edge of the Oklahoma City metro area, these T-Tones emerged onto the national show choir scene in 2018, when they traveled to the Keller Central Lone Star Invitational in Texas. In the late 2010s and into 2020, the group was a regular in Texas, with not many competitions to go around in Oklahoma. However, the group stayed entirely in-state in 2023, competing at Duncan, Jenks and Heartland.


Check back soon for the final installment covering this year's mens groups!

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