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Tight Harmonies Lift Singing Group To Win

After Hours
After Hours is a barbershop quartet on the rise.

Barbershop quartets aren't just for squares and old movies. The music style is alive and kicking in the 21st century, thanks to a recent resurgence and young vocalists like Tim Beutel.

Last month, the central Illinois-based a capella group After Hours journeyed to Las Vegas where they were a smash hit at an international singing competition. The group grabbed the third-place medal in the Quartet Division at the Barbershop Harmony Society International Convention and Competition, beating out scores of other singers.

Beutel sings tenor with the group, and in fact his life is steeped in music. Beutel is a music teacher for Morton Public Schools.

"Singing has been out there a lot more in the public eye," said Beutel, referencing TV shows  like "The Voice," "American Idol" and the film "Pitch Perfect" and its sequels. "Barbershop has been there all along, but now you're seeing this kind of youth movement in barbershop because a capella music is more widely accepted."

Beutel's quartet, After Hours, was formed when he was still a student at Bradley University in Peoria. After college, some group members left and new ones joined as After Hours began to rise in the ranks of a capella competitions around the world.

"At the higher level of barbershop it takes a lot of work. We all read music and we're all classically trained," Beutel explained. "And we've learned through doing. Definitely there's an ear training development of it. Even though you can read the notes, there's a whole other element of blending and being able to not just sing your note, but being able to hear how it should fit into the chord and how you should tune it."

After Hours travels the country performing at barbershop festivals, but they've managed to find time to record music for a new CD, which will be available through its Facebook page very soon.

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Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.