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Farewell, 2023: The nation's retiring show choir directors

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Directors are the heart and soul of a group. They choose the members of a group, choose the theme, choose the competitions, and, well, make things run the way they do. In the spirit of that, Barstool would like to recognize a number of directors who retired at the end of this school year.

Chris Fettig (Bemidji Vocalmotive and La Voce Ballo, 1996-2023)

Fettig graduated from Bemidji State University in 1986 and stuck around to teach where he went to college. He traveled to the Onalaska Show Choir Classic in January 1995 and was immediately hooked on the concept of show choir, so much so that he introduced a group at Bemidji that very fall. Vocalmotive took a while to establish itself, but a two-win 2006 season really put the group on the map. Coupled with expanding options for competition in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, the group quickly emerged into one of the powerhouses of the region. A girls group, La Voce Ballo, was created for the 2010 season in response to growing interest for show choir. In total, Fettig led Vocalmotive to 21 grand championships, including at least one in each of the last five seasons they competed under his watch. Not bad for a group whose closest competition is three and a half hours away!

Bill Myers (Northeast Jones Gold Horizons, 2004-2023)

Dr. Myers, as he is affectionately known in the South, spent 19 years at Northeast Jones, smack dab in the middle of a thick Mississippi show choir belt. The annual tussle between Northeast, West, and South Jones high schools would not have happened if Myers did not enter his school into the fray. Gold Horizons won seven overall championships under his watch, all in the late 2000s and early 2010s. He also directed a womens group, Special Edition, for a time. In the later 2010s and early 2020s, Gold Horizons established themselves in the middle mixed division in Mississippi. During the 2023 season, the group won five of six middle divisions, made finals once and placed in the overall top five two more times. Myers also started a competition at Northeast Jones, the Classic, in 2020. Mississippi House Resolution 178 passed in March, which celebrates Myers’ career as a teacher and wishes him a good retirement. The entire text of the resolution can be read here.

Scott Thorne (Eufala Vibe, early 2000s, Homewood The Network, Nexus and Continuum, 2004-2023)

After graduating from Auburn University, Thorne started and built the foundation of the Eufala show choir program that is still around today. Jumping into a Homewood program that won Opelika the year before, Thorne would eventually build Homewood into Alabama’s most consistent program over the course of the last 20 years. The Network made finals his first year on board at Edgewood, three states away in Indiana and no slouch of a competition. A three-win 2012 season really put Homewood on the national map, and the group hasn’t looked back since, tallying 28 wins in the last ten non-covid seasons. In 2023, Network ran the table in-state, winning Tallassee, Albertville, Opelika and Auburn before shipping up to Nashville, emerging second from an incredibly stacked Show Choir Nationals field. Rebranded from The Legacy after the pandemic, womens group Nexus is routinely a threat to win their division as well and made finals twice in 2022. Mixed prep group Continuum originally came into existence as The Associate in 2013 and has been a solid middle mixed group, competing there due to a dearth of ‘prep’ choirs in Alabama. Thorne was honored with the Music Educator Lifetime Achievement Award at SCN this year, a fitting end to a long and prosperous tenure.

Chi-Chi King (Keller Tribe!, 2012-2023)

King began her tenure at Keller in the early 1990s, long before the Texas show choir scene exploded. However, when the scene began to expand, King and Keller were one of the first early adopters. Situated right across town from Texas’ signature program, Keller Central, Keller has been at every Lone Star Invitational and many of the other contests across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. After a string of finals appearances in the mid-2000s, including a few runner-up finishes, Tribe broke through in 2019, winning Lone Star in a split-caption decision over Rouse. They followed that up with another split-caption win in 2020, this time over Arlington. King and co-director Zach Steele have led Tribe to three runner-up finishes and one third-place finish in the two years after the pandemic, a nice way to go out near the top of the state.

Karen Dollins (Pleasant Hill Hillside Singers, Hilltop Harmony, Hillsound and Powerhouse, 2004-present)

A run that began during Sam Dollins' freshman year of high school ends 20 years later with Sam a decade into his professional show choir directing career. Besides being the matriarch of a show choir family, Dollins was also the matriarch of one of Missouri's longest-running show choir dynasties. She took over a program that was already a finals group and made it the best in western Missouri, with a three-win 2008 season putting the program on the national map. Hilltop Singers had 14 grand championships in the five seasons leading up to the pandemic. The womens group Harmony and freshman group Hillsound have been there for 20 years as well, making Pleasant Hill one of the largest programs in its area. Harmony experienced a resurgence in 2023, making finals twice. Powerhouse came into existence in 2016 as one of the earliest mens choirs in Missouri and has been a consistent force since then, winning at least one mens division over each of the past three years. Dollins was awarded a Judges Choice caption at Joplin this year, a nice token of appreciation for a long and prosperous career.

While these directors are riding into the sunset, be on the lookout for updates on who will take over the reins at their respective programs!

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