CELEBRATION SPOTLIGHT - On the Brink

Celebration Voices - On the Brink

CELEBRATION SPOTLIGHT – On the Brink

On April 5, 2022, Celebration Spotlight spoke with On the Brink in honor of National Barbershop Quartet Day. The Bismarck, North Dakota, barbershop quartet includes vocalists Carol Kuntz (lead), Linda Harmsen (baritone), Tracy Wolf (bass), and Jennifer Ramsaas (tenor). The day lands on April 11th each year and even lands on one member’s birthday!

“It’s a great challenge. I love to sing but I don’t have a solo voice. I love to harmonize, and four part is a challenge. Great fun.” Jennifer Ramsaas

Although they have been together for many years, their story as a quartet starts with the Sweet Adelines. Three of the members began performing with the chorus, but several years later, Linda Harmsen brought her baritone to the choir. And that’s when they became On the Brink and started on a journey of lifelong friendship, musical learning, and fusing their musical sound.

The interview took place during their regular rehearsal night, and they started with a rousing rendition of “I’m Feelin’ Fine” in four-part harmony. No matter where the quartet performs, they connect with the audience, getting toes tapping, generating smiles and laughter, and occasionally tears.

That emotional response can be difficult. Jennifer Ramsaas said, “The difficult part with singing to someone who becomes emotional, that you’ve touched in their heart and soul, is being able to rise above that and not start to weep in the middle of your performance.” They’ve performed before large holiday audiences, packed concert halls, and even offer personal performances in the form of a singing Valentine. No matter what, the foursome gives it their all. They also draw from many genres of music, giving each one that unique a cappella sound.

“If I can sing it, anybody can sing it!” Tracy Wolf (bass)

Linda Harmsen explained that barbershop music is different from choral music. “Baritone can be above or below the lead. Barbershop chords feature a lot of 7ths and 9ths. The aim is for “lock and ring,” which can be achieved through Pythagorean tuning, not tempered tuning like a piano. When perfectly tuned, four people can sound like many more, with swirling overtones, overhead.” 

“Another thing that brought the four of us together is that we all kind of have the same mindset.
Learning new music is important to us, and we put the time in to do that. Our work ethic is very similar.” Carol Kuntz

While their musical backgrounds range from high school choir to no experience, it makes their music that much sweeter. They all agree on one thing, though: being a part of a quartet is a most rewarding experience. The last few years have been difficult, but they made every effort to stay connected.

They wrapped up the interview with a fun rendition of a “Thing Called Love.” You can catch the entire interview and On the Brink’s fantastic performances on Celebration Voices.

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