Featured Singer - Steve Smith


How did you get into barbershop?

About 15 years ago Bryan Bull invited me along to have a listen to The Big County Chorus, and I was instantly taken with the harmonies and the camaraderie.

Do you sing in any other choirs or barbershop choruses?

Yes. I sing with The White Rose Chorus (formerly called The Big County Chorus) in Leeds. In the past I have done the odd bit of choir singing through the schools I have taught in.

What do you like most about singing barbershop?

I really enjoy the chording, especially when you get it right in quartet singing. I like being with fellow singers having a bit of fun on the risers. It's also good being well taught and getting better at something.

Any favourite barbershop songs?

I have always been fond of Something by George Harrison. It was one of the first songs I heard sung in chorus. Another favourite is Let the Rest of the World Go By. I tend to like the ballads most - you can dwell on the chords and savour the emotion.

Any particularly fond barbershop memories or highlights?

Number one would have to be singing in the quartet semis at Llandudno with Chordwrights (Tim Briggs, Dean Whitehouse, Joe Dod and myself). We came 14th and won the Sheng Pitchpipe trophy for best new quartet. I also have fond memories of singing at my first Convention with Big County in Brighton when my son Joel, aged 10 at the time, sang too.

What other music do you enjoy?

My favourite musical style is "symphonic progressive rock", in the style of 70s bands like Yes and Genesis. My favourite bands are now Transatlantic and Spock's Beard. Otherwise my tastes are catholic. I default to Classic FM in the car.

Tell us about your family.

I have been married to Elspeth for 25 years and have a son, Joel, about to graduate from Manchester University where he is studying physics. My mum lives in Lowestoft.

Favourite film, books and TV?

I enjoy the novels of Jojo Moyes and Ian Mcewan. When the mood takes me, I devour crime novels by writers such as Jo Nesbo, Ian Rankin and Lee Childs. I am a big fan of Star Trek (TNG) and numerous boxed sets of drama e.g. The West Wing, The Wire, The Sopranos, "nordic noir", 24. I enjoy cinema, including some French cinema (e.g. the films of Fran├žois Truffaut). The best film I have seen recently was Gravity, not for its story, just its fabulous look and sheer excitement.

Any other significant pastimes?

I play the drums in a pub band called Fischer's Ghost ("rocked up country"), I blog, spend too much time on Twitter and enjoy travelling, especially to our place in France.

Tell us about your education and your work, past or present.

After graduating from Reading University in French and Linguistics, I qualified as a French teacher in London and taught French for 33 years, ending up as a Head of Department at Ripon Grammar School, which is what brought me up to North Yorkshire in 1988. I am now retired, but spend a good deal of time on my website business, a resources site for French teachers called frenchteacher.net.