Patrick Claypool has been a card-carrying member of the Barbershop Harmony Society since he was 12 years old. Barbershopers, as they call themselves, make up a lively community of about 30,000 members internationally. Claypool’s grandfather first introduced him to barbershop quartet singing as a way to spend time with family and friends. Today, 20 years later, Claypool has made a name for himself as the baritone of an international gold medalist quartet, OC Times.
Claypool believes that few art forms are more truly American than the music of barbershop quartets. Barbershop music is rooted in African American musical tradition, but many contemporary barbershop harmonies have evolved to incorporate elements of folk, gospel, pop, country, duwop, jazz, choral and theatrical music in its sound.
I sat down with Claypool to discuss the intricacies of barbershop music and the experience of touring with a gold medal–winning quartet.
Published on Ampersand, January 2016