HistoryThe Stone Mountain Barbershop Harmony Chorus got its founding energy from the Free Spirits quartet. At many public performances the Free Spirits met a number of men who expressed an interest in singing barbershop harmony “closer to home” in northern Atlanta instead of going into midtown to sing in what was then the only other Barbershop Society Chapter in town, the Atlanta Peachtree Chorus.
On June 18, 1980 the first meeting was held at Holy Cross Church, in Chamblee, GA. Twenty-two men attended and showed such exuberance for coming back that a second gathering was scheduled two weeks later. Soon, twice monthly meetings were held and as the nucleus grew, the chorus sought recognition. Its first public appearance was on September 24, 1980, when it entertained 25,000 people at Fulton County Stadium for a Braves baseball game.
The Chorus business leaders received positive feedback from thirty-five men when questioned about becoming a Barbershop Harmony Chapter. And so in March 1981, nine months after its first meeting, the Stone Mountain Chorus was officially chartered as a Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. "Stone Mountain" was adopted as a familiar geographical name.
During its first year, membership grew to over forty men consisting half and half of newcomers and former barbershoppers. Weekly meetings began in May 1981 in preparation for the Chapter shows which were held November 6 & 7, 1981 at the Dekalb Community College Fine Art Auditorium. Both shows were near sellouts. As an expression of friendship within the barbershopping community, the Atlanta and Macon choruses, the Song of Atlanta Sweet Adeline Chorus, and a neighboring quartet from Athens/Macon made the show a huge success.
The Chorus won its first Division Chorus Contest and has won several times since. A friendly rivalry with other choruses in Dixie District continues today. Tim Brooks took over the musical direction of the Chorus in 1988. In August 1994, the Chorus won the “Buckeye Invitational Contest” held in Columbus, OH. In the Spring of 2000 the Chorus became Dixie District Champions for the first time. Five district quartet champs hail entirely or partially from Stone Mountain: Atlanta Forum, Class of ‘94, Svelte Brothers, Riptide, and State Line Grocery which in July of 2007 received a bronze medal as the fourth best quartet in International competition in Denver CO.
In January 2001, Luke Lindsay took over as musical director of the Chorus and led it to its proudest accomplishment to date: an appearance as mic testers at the 2001 International Convention held in Nashville, TN. Stone Mountain Chorus won the Dixie District Championship in 2010. In 2011, Dylan Oxford steppped forward from the role of Assistant Director to Director and lead the Chorus until 2019, when Ben McDaniel took over that role, guiding the Chorus through the difficult years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ben moved back to be with family in Kansas in 2022, and in June of that year we hired our current Director, Justin C. Han.
From its inception, Stone Mountain has always been known as a “high energy and accomplishment-oriented” group, and its leaders guide the Dixie District and the International Barbershop Harmony Society to this day. Membership growth is vital to our future. Stone Mountain encouraged the formation of other area choruses in Gainesville, GA; Roanoke, Al; and Marietta, GA.
The Chapter innovated Mother’s Day "Flower and Song" deliveries, and Chorus Quartets deliver Singing Valentines on Valentine's Day every year. Aside from its annual fall and spring shows, the chorus also participates in various festivals and other community events. Christmas caroling at assisted living centers is a highlight of the year and a great way to spread Christmas cheer through barbershop harmony.
The Chapter developed a close relationship with Atlanta charity FOCUS (Families of Children Under Stress), which supports children with difficult medical or developmental distorders, after a director of the Chorus had a granddaughter who needed those services. Members donate to FOCUS weekly, and a portion of proceeds from ticket sales is directed to that worthy charity.
These activities give a glimpse into the civic commitment of the Chorus. Throughout its colorful forty year history, Stone Mountain Chorus has proudly represented our community as ambassador songsters and cheerful good citizens. Our activities have always been dedicated to our mission of "Enriching lives through vocal harmony."