NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — After 80 years of being a male-only organization, the Barbershop Harmony Society has announced that women will be allowed to join the a capella singing organization.
The organization, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee, said in a statement Wednesday on its website that membership to the society is open to everyone, effective immediately.
But the statement also says that its local chapters will get to decide how to, or whether to integrate their chapters, such as keeping male-only groups, or having female-only groups or mixed groups. Chapters can start accepting women in January 2019.
In 2009, women were allowed to participate in the organization as associates, but couldn’t join chapters or quartets.
CEO Skipp Kropp said in a statement Wednesday that preserving male singing groups and welcoming women into the organization were “compatible ideas.”
“Everyone means EVERYONE — people of every age, of every background, every gender identity, every race, every sexual orientation, every political opinion or spiritual belief,” Kropp’s statement said. “Every person who loves to harmonize has a place in our family.”
The singing style has evolved over the years, gaining more recognition in recent due to due to the “Pitch Perfect” films and the new-found popularity of school glee clubs, who have adapted current music to the singing style. They have convention and international competitions with singers coming from all over the world.