Headliners’ first Director and founder Jen Squires became hooked on the barbershop artform and the fellowship of Sweet Adelines after singing with the Bathurst Panorama Chorus. She moved away in 1998 and soon discovered that despite the myriad of a cappella groups on the north coast nothing compared to the enjoyment and educational possibilities that she had come to know. There was only one solution – to start her own!
The group started small in 1999 with six enthusiastic women from Lennox Head answering a newspaper ad. The word spread, numbers grew and they elected their first Management Team later that year. With Gwen Taylor as their first Team Coordinator they became the prospective Lennox Headliners Chorus.
Big sister Gold Coast chorus and their director Alexa supported their early efforts and soon they were performing locally. One of their performance highlights was singing for the Ballina leg of the Olympic Torch Relay in 2000.
By 2002 they “Dared to Dream” with 16 members singing for evaluation at the Wollongong Convention and our first chapter quartet ‘Collusion’ competing as well.
On 15 June 2003 The Lennox Headliners Chorus received their Charter with Sweet Adelines International and celebrated with a joint concert with friends Brisbane City Sounds.
They competed for the first time as a chartered chorus in Adelaide in 2004 with just 15 members on stage,then again in 2006 – this time closer to home in Brisbane. Cruise quartet also competed this year, making their debut as the highest scoring novice quartet for that year.
Headliners are proud of having improved their score to a new level at every contest they have attended. This steady improvement led to their first ribbon – 3rd placed small chorus – at Brisbane Convention 2007. The chorus is not all about competition though. They also love to put on a show and have entertained audiences with their original productions “Girl’s Night Out” (August 2005) and “All Aboard” (April 2008).
In 2008 the chorus voted to change their name to Headliners Chorus to better reflect the wide area their membership now covers. The numbers grew steadily, to over 30 members under Jen’s enthusiastic direction, with assistance from assistant director Justine Cox, TC (Top Cat!) Lynn Macdonald and the great music & management teams. Although Jen was the only member from that original rehearsal in February 1999, there were several members that joined that year and many more that had been with them since chartering.
Cruise quartet was joined by Blue Velvet and double quartet Sometimes Seven.
In 2009, founding director Jen took extended leave of three months and during her absence we appointed Cathy Gordon as our Temporary Director, with Justine Cox and Sue Nardi as assistant directors. Jen announced on her return that she would not be renewing her contract, but would instead be moving to Perth to pursue a formal university degree in music.
The chorus celebrated its 10th birthday with a short concert followed by afternoon tea, attended by about 150 people in May 2009. Some of the original members of the chorus were there to help celebrate the occasion. This was also the Dress rehearsal before our trip to Hobart for Convention. This performance in Hobart resulted in the chorus being placed 4th in the Small Chorus Division and our score of 487 placed us in the B- category, of which we were very proud.
Our next event of the year was a farewell for our founder and inaugural director Jen Squires held at the Ballina RSL. The chorus grew steadily under her directorship over the 10 years . We bid a fond farewell to Jen and wished her well with her university studies.
Cathy Gordon was welcomed enthusiastically as our new musical director, after the Hobart Convention in May 2009 and the group was very excited by her immense passion for music and looked forward to continuing to grow under her leadership.
Headliners Chorus celebrated 7 years as a chartered chorus on 15 June 2009.
We enjoyed a coaching workshop with Lea Baker, a number of performances around the area including Alstonville, Bangalow, Ballina and Mullumbimby and a busy Christmas caroling schedule at local shopping centres, River St Ballina and at Carols by Candlelight in Lennox Head.
On 10 September 2009, we were delighted to sing for the wedding of Chris and Justine (our Assistant Director).
In early 2010 Cathy completed the Sweet Adelines Certified Director’s Program in Australian record time and with one of the highest scores recorded in the country. She received her Certificate from renowned Australian Sweet Adeline – Lea Baker. The Chorus also presented her with a Certified Director’s Pin.
We again took part in many performances around the area. The Biala Debutante Ball, Rotary Shelter fundraiser in Alstonville, a busy Christmas caroling schedule at local shopping centres, and Carols by Candlelight in Lennox Head being among them.
The ultimate performance for this year was definitely our show in Bangalow on 4 September 2010, “BROADWAY AND A WHOLE LOT MORE”. Renowned Australian Jazz Singer Sharny Russell was a guest artist, and Nicki Wood was a very capable emcee. We performed to a sell out crowd and the prolonged standing ovation at the end of the show made all the hard work that went into this production worthwhile.
2011 was one of the best yet for the Chorus. Within the community, we raised the bar in all areas and our name, popularity and public recognition spread further afield.
We were very excited, and for some very relieved that after 7 years of saving we were able to replace our heavy old choral risers with NEW, much lighter and easier to maneuver Sico risers.
Our preparation for Convention in Newcastle in May was a major focus for 2011. To assist in this we enjoyed a fantastic coaching workshop with Sharon Stanley in March, with a return visit in April to energise us even more, before our trip to Newcastle. We also enjoyed a visit from Lindsey Dyer for our REF visit.
The year concluded with many memorable performances across the region, including our very own “Christmas Spectacular” at Ballina RSL Club, joined by our Gold Coast sisters in song ‘Harmony in Paradise’ chorus.
The beginning of 2012 marked a further major change for Headliners Chorus. Ballina RSL Club became our new ‘home’ (rehearsal and performance venue).
In preparation for our Canberra Convention, Headliners ‘retreated’ to Lennox Head for a weekend full of workshops, then staged our very successful “A Capital Act” concert at Ballina RSL Club. In May we ventured to chilly Canberra to again sing with our Sweet Adelines friends from all over Australia, coming home proudly with a 4th placing in the Small Chorus section.
While happy to sink their teeth into a good barbershop ballad or uptune, Headliners would also like to be seen as entertaining trend setters in the region, singing a number of original arrangements and music with modern appeal.