On May 17, 1962, the Chattanooga (Rock City) Chapter became a charter member of what is now the Barbershop Harmony Society.
The Rock City Chorus performed their first show on July 14, 1962, at the new Chattanooga High School auditorium. The Knoxville Smokyland Chorus and Knoxville Sweet Adeline Chorus and the Atlanta Peachtree Chorus along with four quartets, including Dixie District Champions, The Dignitaries, also performed that day.
In 1975, the chorus name was changed to The Mountain City Chorus and in 1982 the name was changed finally to The Choo Choo Chorus. The Chorus has had as many as 62 members in 1963 and as few as 12 members in 1970 and currently has 30-40 members.
We have had eleven different musical directors beginning with Dick Clem. Jimmy Tompkins has been the director since 2020. Thirty-two chapter quartets have competed for Dixie District honors over the years but only one quartet, the Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boys, has ever won a Dixie District Quartet Championship (1981).
From its inception the chorus has been busy singing in the Chattanooga area. With two contests each year, an annual show, a Christmas show and singing in the community, the men get their barbershop “fix” and provide audiences with lots of entertainment opportunities. With performances ranging from entertaining at a nursing home or retirement center to singing the National Anthem at sporting events to performing with the Chattanooga Symphony to various outdoor events, even providing strolling quartets for the Riverbend Festival, the chapter provides ample opportunity for men to indulge their inner “ham” while making people happy. An added benefit is health improvements as the result of singing — we’ve had men performing with us into their 90s!
The vision for the future is continued efforts for preservation of barbershop music, entertainment of patrons, help for service projects, and continued friendship with fellow barbershoppers.