Sea Belles, Atlantic Canada’s first women’s Barbershop Harmony, Inc. chorus

Sea Belles Chorus' Beginnings:

In 1968, Ilene Findlay, International 1st Vice- President from Montreal, Quebec, made a trip to the Maritimes to promote Harmony, Incorporated. She placed an ad in the Saint John daily newspaper which was seen by Joan (Harley) Buckland. Joan proceeded to organize a chorus by contacting all the people she knew who liked to sing. This group first met at the YMCA and became known as the Sea Belles. Joan became their first President, Carol Henderson the first Director, and Lorraine Haslett, first Secretary.

On April 1, 1969 Sea Belles received their Harmony
Incorporated charter from Hannah Zavitz, International President, at the Saint John home of Bessie Selby.

The first Harmony Training Program (H.T.P.), precursor to Area Convention and Contests was held in Saint John in the spring of 1970 at the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was a “fun” contest with three Maritime chartered choruses present, plus two quartets from the Sea Belles, The Barbie Dolls and the Pitch Folks. The Pitch Folks consisted of: Lead, Lorraine Haslett; Bass, Carol Henderson; Baritone, Barbara Rioux; Tenor, Jean Bishop. The Barbie Dolls, dressed in old fashioned bathing suits, consisted of: Lead, Dona Atcheson; Bass, Bessie Selby; Baritone, Grace Goguen; Tenor, Irene Clark.

Since 1969, over twenty-five Harmony, Inc. choruses have been chartered in the Atlantic region. Sea Belles is now one of ten Area 1 Harmony, Inc. choruses. Sea Belles membership has grown steadily since 2013 with it's annual membership ranging from 45-55 ladies aged 14 to 80+ years young. The chorus has been recognized by Harmony, Incorporated for it’s successful marketing and membership recruitment efforts, sharing its programs and results with other Atlantic choruses.

Although the chorus has had many directors over its 50 year history. Sea Belles is has been directed by well known musician Janet Kidd, followed by Marilyn Hickman, Joanne Conrad and our current director Ellen Belyea.

Under Janet's direction, Sea Belles has achieved recognition as a top performing a cappella chorus, singing and performing at local and community events, and participating in Atlantic and International Harmony, Inc. competitions. Sea Belles was the top Area 1 Harmony, Inc. chorus in 2012, 2013 and 2015 

May 4, 2019 Sea Belles will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as a chartered member of Harmony Incorporated. Several events were planned including a complimentary afternoon wine and cheese and evening dinner for current and former Sea Belle members, Chorus Directors and other Harmony Inc. members from across the Atlantic region.

Sea Belles, also known as Sea Belles A Cappella Chorus, is grateful for Saint John community support over it’s 54+ years of performing at local nursing homes, seniors’ facilities, shopping malls and community events. Sea Belles has also performed on the Imperial Theatre stage with Canadian singer Coco Love Alcorn, New Brunswick's Tomato Tomato as well as loaned their voices to many Saint John non profit fund raising events. Sea Belles look forward to many more years of sharing barbershop a cappella harmony.

Sea Belles practice every Tuesday evening at 6:30 pm at Portland United Church Hall, 50 Newport Crescent, Saint John. All energetic women who love to sing and want to experience the fun of a cappella singing with a competitive chorus, are welcome to join Sea Belles. For information of the Sea Belles' performances and events, visit www.seabelles.ca.

Revised from information provided by 47 year Sea Belle member, Irene Goddard**
Copyright © 2024 Sea Belles