The Glee Club Sings on
|Bryce Wilson conducts the choir.|
The Glee Club recently performed for the historical society in Castle Dale. A program was presented and details of their history. In the late fall of 1919 in the small, rural town of Huntington, Emery County, an icon was born. Evert Johnson, the music teacher at the local high school organized a group of his male students into a chorus.
This group of boys made a big impression upon the whole county as they sang at school and civic functions.
They sang together for several years before it was decided that they could improve the quality of their sound by adding more voices to the chorus. The membership opened up to other male members of the community and the Huntington Glee Club was born.
As the Huntington Glee Club, they furnished musical entertainment throughout Emery and Carbon counties and became quite popular wherever they performed. As a result, they were invited to provide entertainment at fund raisers, church programs, community affairs, etc. Concerts by the Glee Club soon became a customary event.
Between the years 1919 and 1925, the Glee Club was under the complete direction of their conductor, Evert Johnson but in 1925, Johnson took a job in Arizona and left Huntington. At this time something drastic had to be done if the Glee Club was to continue.
Shortly after arriving in Arizona, Johnson decided to enter Vaudeville. He wanted to form a male quartet and go on the road performing on the stages of Arizona and New Mexico. He enticed three of the members of the Glee Club, "Shine" Johnson, Ted Nielson and Perry Wakefield, to join him in this adventure.
They called themselves The Celebrated Lyric Harmony Male Quartette. They earned a lot of experience but not much money so in the spring the three boys left Johnson and returned to Huntington.
That same spring, Wakefield reorganized the Huntington Glee Club and became its conductor. He remained in this position until he was called upon to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints later that year. He would be serving in Kentucky for a period of two years. During his absence, Bert Thomas filled the position of conductor.
This period of time was a very shaky time for the Glee Club. It seemed as though it was going to break up but upon the return of Wakefield, Thomas relinquished the leadership back to Wakefield.
Wakefield kept the Glee Club together and under his direction they thrived. After 37 years as the director of the Glee Club, he met an untimely death in an explosion in 1965.
During this 40 year history of the Glee Club the membership grew to as many as 40 members.
In 1950, Errol Litster became an alternate director to fill in for Perry when necessary. 1950 was also the busiest year the Glee Club had had since its inception in 1919.
The Glee Club has been very busy ever since then providing entertainment throughout the State of Utah. In a two year period they helped to raise about $6,000 for worthy causes. They have performed at county fairs, fund raisers for building LDS chapels, other religious services, civic functions, and various other benefits.
If there was a worthy cause, the Huntington Glee Club was there to help. They seemed to always be called upon to sing in someone's funeral and they always seemed to want to provide any comfort that they could through their music.
The Huntington Glee Club has traveled to many towns and cities throughout the state as mentioned above. Perhaps the two cities farthest away they have performed in is Bountiful and West Valley City.
While performing in Bountiful in 1953, they made such an impression that one of the premier music companies from Salt Lake City, Daynes Music Company, included an article in their company publication The Melodeon as "a group of artists giving outstanding community service, far out of proportion for the size of the town of their origin."
The Melodeon goes on to say, "For such service, the members of the Club receive no remuneration. They even pay their own traveling expenses."
Wakefield has been quoted in The Melodeon as saying, "This is truly a club of service and friendship; a club wherein the members reap their greatest reward from the love they have of singing; of visiting friends and neighbors, and of helping others.
Compliment any one of the group, and he will tell you, 'Thanks kindly, but the pleasure is all mine.'"
For only a brief time during World War II and a few other times, the Glee Club has been an active organization functioning continuously since its inception in 1919. It is still going strong to this date with a membership on an average of 25 to 35 members. Some are second, third or fourth generation members.
You may ask yourself, "What is the secret of the success of the Huntington Glee Club?" You may also have an answer to this question, but if you ask any member of the Glee Club what makes it so successful, they will tell you that there are two different ingredients that are most important : the conductor/director and perhaps the most very important is the accompanist. Over the years there have been several of each helping the Club become the great organization that it is today.
Bryce Wilson is the current conductor and Kendall Mortensen is the current assistant with Annette Cook, accompanist.
The members of the Glee Club would like to express their appreciation to these people for the time and effort which they make each week in contributing to the success of the Huntington Glee Club.