What I will miss most about not going in person to IC&C this year is meeting our wonderful HI members from all over North
America. So I decided to contact a distant chapter that I had never encountered in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. (20 miles
south of Daytona) I received a charming e-mail reply:
“My name is Barbara Mudge. I have been a member of Harmony Sound Waves for 10 years. I also sang with the International
Champion New England Voices of Harmony, for eight months while we cared for our family in New Hampshire because my
Coast Guard daughter was on sea duty. We saw snow for the first time in 35 years!”
Barbara went on to include a Facebook post she believes someone needs to hear: “I’m writing this to help someone who may be afraid to pursue their passion. I want to thank Mr. Call, my music teacher in high school, for believing in me and letting me sing in an ensemble. In my early thirties a pastor told me that I was tone deaf (when asked why I couldn’t sing solo in church). Then I stopped singing for many years.”
Fortunately, Barbara continued, “Then in my fifties, I met a special woman named Priscilla who told me I had a beautiful voice as my mother and I sang along while she played the piano at the senior center. She suggested that I go with her to Harmony Sound
Waves practice and so began my adventure!” Barbara said. “I felt I wasn’t good enough to sing because of what I’d come to believe,” even as she fell in love with the chorus.
“That leads me to a very special person I want to thank with all my heart. Greg Patterson, our chorus director, had faith in me. He
taught me how to sing better and taught me to believe in myself. For this I will always be grateful,” said Barbara.
Her adventure continued: “I eventually had the courage to join two quartets. Life is short! Dare to believe in yourself!”
This Canadian writer had the pleasure of meeting Barbara by Zoom and discovered that she had joined New England Voices of
Harmony just in time to compete with them when they won the championship at IC&C in 2018! What an adventure she has had
with Harmony Inc!
I learned that she began singing as a young child growing up on a dairy farm in upstate New York. “I had few friends because of my epilepsy,” said Barbara. “Music was my escape and comfort. Because my three brothers would tell me to be quiet, I’d sing in
the milk house (the best sound with great echoes!) or while picking berries.”
Barbara has turned adversity into positives her whole life. When she stopped singing, she learned sign language which has given her a tool to be of great help to others. When she was laid off from her job of 22 years at the age of 52, she decided to finally
write a book. It was published in 2009 and a second edition in 2011. “It is a collection of the freelance column stories I wrote for
our local newspaper from 1999-2002,” said Barbara.
Her book (What Kind of Apple Are You?) is currently available as an e-book. Although she no longer suffers from epilepsy, she
was plagued by migraines, but decided to rise with the sun to photograph sunrises which has helped her immensely. Barbara is also a talented photographer, posting glorious online photos of Florida scenery for everyone’s enjoyment on her Facebook page.
She said, “I started photography about the same time I started with Harmony Sound Waves. Both brought me to a happy place.”
When asked what she is most proud of she replied, “…my 5 kids, my 16 grandkids, my great-grandchild and my 42 adventurous
years of marriage!” (Her beloved husband, Bill, is a great supporter of Harmony Sound Waves helping with photography,
labor and set-up. )
As inspirational as Barbara is, so too are her much-loved sisters in Harmony Sound Waves. I learned that this chorus is
remarkable for many reasons. They were chartered in 1992 by past International President Aura Daye. Despite the majority of
their members now being over 65 (the oldest being 93!), this very active chorus by Barbara’s account usually produces an annual
show as well as an annual fall fundraiser called “Sweets ’N Harmony,” with a raffle, lots of home baked treats and singing (of
course!). They also help with community events such as Little Pink House cancer fundraising events. During COVID-19, they
have worked together, helping each other to ensure that everyone has the technology and knowledge to connect comfortably on
No wonder Barbara loves her inspirational sisters at Harmony Sound Waves!