Tracey Payne got hooked on barbershop after joining a free harmony singing course run by Surrey Harmony in September 2007. Here she describes her journey to a silver medal. Tracey was one of 15 members affectionately known as “newbies” who competed at their first UK Championships in Birmingham with Surrey Harmony.

From the first time I stood on the risers I knew – this was where I belonged. I don’t even recognise the woman I was then. My life has changed so much, but looking back it was only when Surrey Harmony filled my life with music that I realised what I was missing.

I didn’t really know what to expect from Convention. I’d practiced our songs until my family was sick of hearing them, then suddenly I was heading to Birmingham having packed my costume and stuck on my false nails. On the day of competition myself and the other newbies were up early – after all we needed the maximum time possible to get the make-up right. No matter how much I put on I kept getting told it wasn’t enough. I was constantly being told “not enough” and more was slapped on.

Soon we were having our final rehearsal then making our way to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. Everyone was in high spirits, and the atmosphere was electric. Everyone was hugging each other, and experienced chorus members were encouraging us newbies to enjoy our brief 6 minutes on stage. Everywhere I looked there were the smiling faces of my new friends.

At the side of the stage a sudden calm descended and at last the time had come. You don’t need a switch to turn on the performance mode, it fires up when you hear the applause. I gave every once of energy I possessed to do my very best.

The performance was over in a blink of an eye and as my hands were lifted in my final pose, my chest heaving from the energy I’d put into it, I smiled into the audience and thought:- ‘I was born to do this’.

Later as I sat holding the hands of my fellow newbies , wishing on every lucky star for a medal, the wait was tortuous. As we were announced as Silver medal winners the cheers erupted around me and we leapt to our feet. A moment that I will remember forever. My first ever medal. I was so proud of everyone, but also proud of myself.

What did convention mean to me?

Surrey Harmony team spirit.

What did I learn?

A new self-confidence, but mostly that if I want something bad enough and keep trying to achieve my goals that even a gal like me can win.

Now I’ve broken the news to my husband that I will be away in Nashville for a week in October 2009. He’s got plenty of time to get used to the idea! I never thought when I answered an advert for a singing course I’d be competing in the Barbershop World Championships – I am counting down the days”.

Tracey Payne May 2008


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