Early in 2016, Patti Murphy and Becky McDuffee put their heads together and came up with a plan to create a new Sweet Adelines International chorus in Charleston, IL. Both women were current members of the Toast of Champaign Chorus and had been members of other Sweet Adelines choruses over the years. They believed that the East Central Illinois area was ripe for such an acapella singing group where they could share their love of singing barbershop harmony with others in the region. Otterbein United Methodist Church graciously offered to host the chorus rehearsals, plans were made, and East Central Harmony Chorus was born.
Our first rehearsal was held on June 9, 2016 at Otterbein United Methodist Church (now New Hope Worship Center) and we were notified by Sweet Adelines International that we had met all chartering requirements and were granted official membership on September 15, 2017.
Over the past years we have learned several songs, performed at such locales as local churches, the Youth in Harmony festival, nursing homes, Bagelfest, and other area venues. We have held annual shows, hosted a fall Women’s Day Out with music and a style show, have held performances at local parks and even in people’s yards during COVID-19 restrictions. Throughout the Pandemic we managed to keep on singing and learning new music whether using Zoom, singing outside at Kiwanis Park, or singing inside with masks and social distancing when it was allowed.
We have continued to attract new singers and refine our craft, including working with coaches and attending educational offerings provided by the regional and international organizations. That education and hard work has paid off as we earned the distinction of Most Improved Chorus between our first and second regional contests. We are very proud of that honor and continue to grow in numbers, improve our skills, and expand our repertoire.