INTERNATIONAL HONORS: Song of the Pines director earns recognition
Only a few years ago, she started directing local vocal group Song of the Pines, now she's teaching the world to sing.
A third generation member of Sweet Adelines - the international organization of all-women's barbershop-style harmony choruses - Suzy Lobaugh this month earned accreditation of Approved Faculty.
The position designates Lobaugh, 68, as a teacher to travel around the world to teach Sweet Adeline groups how to orchestrate harmony.
"The approved faculty status is something that took me about six years to achieve, it doesn't come easy. They make you jump through a lot of hoops," said Lobaugh, 68.
The accreditation makes her one of 30 arrangers of barbershop harmony out of an organization with about 30,000 members, she said.
Joining Song of the Pines about six years ago not long after relocating to the area from Southern California, Lobaugh has continued her family's vocal tradition by bringing her sister, daughter, and 90-year-old mother into the fold of Song of the Pines as well.
"It's been a lifelong commitment with my family, obviously," said her daughter, Carol Tippett, 47, who joined the group almost four years ago.
"My mom and dad introduced us to it when we were very small. We grew up hearing it, and my mom and dad were both judges in one of the categories," Lobaugh recalled.
As a Sweet Adelines Approved Faculty member, Lobaugh said she travels about four to six times a year to coach other vocal groups, this year in Oregon, California, Colorado and Arizona.
Previously, while earning accreditation, she said she taught in Australia and New Zealand, where she says the uniquely American art form is gaining popularity.
"It's really popular, and the reason is, it's part of their school systems," she said,
mentioning current barbershop harmony collegiate champions, Sweden's The Ringmasters recent visit to Prescott.
The new title appears a good fit to the Song of the Pines director, who has already performed around the world.
Lobaugh includes in her experiences performing in Asia with the USO in the early 1970s, filling in with chorus group High Society the year they were the sitting International Champion Quartet, which included a performance in England's Royal Albert Hall, and winning the International Gold Medal with the San Diego Chorus in Portland, Ore., in 2002.
Song of the Pines is one of about 650 Sweet Adelines choruses throughout the world.
Lobaugh said the goal this year for Song of the Pines is to win its division of 30 or fewer singers in the national competition in Pasadena in April, of which the group has won twice before.
Song of the Pines will perform at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Prescott Valley at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7.