About 30 local vocalists donned jeans and American flag bandannas Jan. 7 as the members of the Higher Ground Men’s Chorus were selected to sing the National Anthem at the opening of that evening’s National Western Stock Show Rodeo.
“We are just a group of men who got together to sing Southern Gospel music almost four years ago and are still at it,” said Vern Claussen, an original member. “John Weston, who arranges all our dates, set this up and so we will head down to the National Western Stock Show and do our best.”
Weston, who also has been with the group from the beginning, said a friend heard the group sing and suggested he call the National Western Stock Show about singing the National Anthem at one of the performances.
“I sent them a copy of our latest project. They called us back, said they liked our style and they wanted us to sing Jan. 7,” he said.
The Higher Ground Men’s Chorus is an all-volunteer group of men from Englewood, Littleton, Highlands Ranch and Lakewood who enjoy singing, Claussen said.
“This group got started about four years ago when Dick Weaver said Belleview Community Church was having a hymn sing and they would like a men’s chorus to be part of the evening’s event,” he said. “About 15 of us got together and that was the start of this group.”
Weston agreed and said the group sang four or five songs the night of the hymn sing and everyone had such a good time, they decided they wanted to form a group so they could continue to sing together.
“As we sang at different events, we began getting invitations to sing at churches, to visit nursing homes and to sing at other locations,” he said. “Originally, most invitations were in the Denver metro area. Then we were invited to the Rocky Mountain Quartet Convention, and since then we have traveled north to be part of a Sunday Nights in Greeley celebration and south to a date in Rocky Ford.”
The group’s style is four-part harmony and they sing traditional hymns, gospel music and patriotic songs.
For those who couldn’t get to the performances, Weston arranged dates and studio time for the group to record two albums.
“I am the producer and I worked with FTM Studios in Lakewood to book time to do the recordings,” he said. “Being in a recording studio was a new experience for most of our guys. That first time was a little stressful, but we also had some fun with it.”
He said the second album was much better than the group’s first effort.
The first album was done primarily using one take which means singing each song one time for the recording. But more time was spent on the second effort.
“Some songs were done without a hitch on the first take,” Weston said. “But sometimes we had to go back and redo a song or a portion of a song to get the harmony right.”
The group practices on Monday nights at the Southern Gables Evangelical Free Church. For information on the chorus or upcoming performances call 303-985-8011.