History of the Big Chicken Chorus

The BIG CHICKEN CHORUS (BCC) of Marietta, GA, a chapter within the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), received its charter to operate on April 23, 1986. Several members of the Atlanta Peachtree Chapter saw the need for barbershopping to expand in the Atlanta metro area and proposed formation of a new chapter in an outlying area of the city. The license to start building the chapter was signed on July 12, 1985, and nine months later the charter was issued.

The first few meetings were held in the home of Bob McDaniel and dedicated singers began attending the meetings over the next few months.

Prior to receiving a license to operate and at the suggestion of its founder, Bill Schreiner, the chorus adopted its name after the well-known 56-foot tall "Big Chicken" (a restaurant and very popular landmark in Marietta, at the crossroads of US Highway 41 and Roswell Road). Bill asked his son, a graphic arts student at the University of Georgia, if he might have any ideas about what the chapter logo should look like. In one hour, Billy presented his dad (and the chapter) with the now-famous BCC logo: the Big Chicken with barberpole stripes.

The first Society appearance of the Big Chicken Chorus was in the fall of 1986, at the Dixie District contest in Winston-Salem, NC. The performance labeled the BCC as a fun bunch of guys who were great entertainers. By the spring of 1987, the Chorus had grown to 37 members and to 48 members by the fall contest. The Chorus continued its steady growth, and finished fourth in the 1988 Dixie District Competition.

A short time later, director Thom Hine informed the membership that his employer was transferring him to its headquarters in Chicago. The search for his replacement was a very short exercise, since Thom's son, Clay Hine, was our assistant director, and had already established himself as one of the finest young barbershop musicians and chorus directors within our 34,000 member Society.

Under Clay's direction, the Big Chicken Chorus grew to a singing membership of over 120 dedicated men, and won the right to represent the Dixie District in the annual SPEBSQSA International Chorus Contest for sixteen (16) consecutive years, the longest-running winning record in the history of the Barbershop Harmony Society. The BCC has grown, improved and "scratched" its way up the contest ladder to attain the status of "medalist", and in 1999, we placed 3rd in International Competition (Anaheim, CA). Since our chapter chartering, seven (7) of the Dixie District's Quartet Champions and one (1) International Champion have been associated with the Marietta, GA Chapter.

The Big Chicken Chorus has gained recognition from all corners of the Society and from our most appreciative audiences at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, the Atlanta Civic Center, the Georgia Fine Arts Center, Symphony Hall, the Georgia Dome, the Georgia Pacific "Art in the Heart" series, the "Cobb County Jubilee Arts Alliance" series, the Robert Ferst Center at Georgia Tech, the Rialto Theatre, and all over the Southeast. The BCC has also performed for the Georgia Music Educators Association and for the IBM World Series Seminar in Atlanta.

The Big Chicken Chorus is extremely sensitive to the needs of the community, and participates in community service activities on a regular basis.

We have been privileged to perform for the Retarded Citizens Association, the American Cancer Society, the annual Rich's Lighting of the Great Tree Ceremony, Heartspring, the Institute of Logopedics, Sing America/Sing Canada, Angel Flight, the Salvation Army and the Dixie District Harmony Explosion Camp for high school students. We assist in adding holiday cheer to patients of Charter-Peachford Hospital, as well as for several senior citizen communities in the Atlanta area.

We were also the headline entertainment for the Support the Troops concert at Stone Mountain Park on July 4 weekend 2004. For the past several years, 94.9 FM has invited us to perform as the featured chorus at their annual Carols in the Park concert at Centennial Olympic Park during the Christmas holiday. The 2005 concert was moved to the Duluth Amphitheater.

In 1998, the Chorus traveled to Great Britain to perform as the special guests of the British Association of Barbershop Singers at their annual convention in Harrogate, England.

Clay Hine resigned as our director in January, 2005, and we were fortunate to have Tom Schlinkert, founding member of the Stone Mountain Chapter step into the void and prepare us to compete in the 2005 International Contest at Salt Lake City. Having lost not only our director, but a sizeable portion of our singing membership, we nevertheless fulfilled our commitment to represent the Dixie District in that contest and had a lot of fun in the process. Tom had expressed from the outset that his tenure as the Director of the Big Chicken Chorus was an interim involvement to be concluded following the International Contest. During Tom's tenure, a search was launched for a permanent director and led to the hiring of Anita Norman as the new Director of Music beginning in July 2005.

Anita came on board and immersed herself in the culture and musical nuances of the barbershop style of harmony, our chapter, district and society. As we began 2007, we faced a brave new world that will take us in directions new to us and to Anita, but built on a tradition to serve the Big Chicken Chorus and the community well in the future. During Anita's tenure, the BCC did many performances in the community and made a return to the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre as a home for our annual Christmas Shows. Our 2007 Christmas Show was among the most successful in the history of the chapter. Following a 30 month tenure as our Director, Anita resigned her position in December of 2008.

Chuck Pettis, an Assistant Director under Anita, stepped up to serve as Director of the BCC while a search was conducted to identify a new permanent director. Chuck, having involvement in numerous activities, including local theater companies and the Direction of the Roswell Chapter was not interested in taking the total responsibility as our new Director on a long term basis. A search for a new permanent director began immediately.

In April 2008, Rick Ramsey, a member of the Big Chicken Chorus residing in Birmingham, AL, was named our new Director. Under Rick's direction, the Big Chicken Chorus continued its long history of entertaining during its performances and in barbershop contests. After almost 4 years as the director, Rick resigned in early 2012.

Drayton Justus graciously served as our interim director following Rick's resignation and was a member of the director search committee that found potential director candidates.

In April 2012 the Big Chicken Chorus proudly chose Lars Grevstad as its director. Lars was, at that time, the Choral Director at Cooper Middle School, teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students the joys of singing and singing well. Lars is a versatile performer in many styles including but not limited to opera, musical theater, a cappella, jazz, and contemporary music. Lars is a member, featured soloist, and assistant director of the highly acclaimed Atlanta Vocal Project. He has been teaching private voice since 2000 and was certified as a Speech Level Singing Instructor in 2005.

Following the opening of the Marietta Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in August of 2013, the chapter began to explore the possibility of using the new theater for future performances. In May of 2014, our Spring Show, which had been dormant for 10 years, was revived at MPAC.

In the process of establishing a relationship with MPAC and Marietta High School, we were encouraged to move forward with a vocal clinic tailored to Middle School and High School boys at MPAC. In September of 2014 we conducted our first Real Men Sing program, and in December we performed our 2014 Christmas Show at MPAC.

In a related series of events, Lars Grevstad was named the Choral Music Director of Marietta High School where he is enjoying a successful career by building the musical skills and participation of the students and those of the Big Chicken Chorus. In the fall of 2015, the Big Chicken Chorus moved its rehearsal location to Marietta High School to help Lars with his scheduling and to gain the mutual benefit of performing with and for the students in the Marietta Schools.

We welcome any opportunity to apply our hobby of singing four-part harmony, and have traveled extensively to present our brand of entertainment to a variety of audiences, both young and old. We truly hope you will join us as an active member of the BIG CHICKEN CHORUS, and experience all the thrills and joys of entertaining people.