Singing employee brings unique voice to construction projects

When Patty Overby isn’t managing construction projects, she’s often singing in an a capella, barbershop chorus.

“I think it makes you a better rounded person – for me it’s a big stress reducer and it’s a positive influence. It’s another opportunity to meet new people who are doing different things,” Overby said.

A  Project Manager in King County’s Department of Transportation, Design and Construction Section, Overby has worked at the County for more than 35 years. Overby has been singing all her life, but six years ago she decided to give the Voices Northwest Chorus a try.

Patty Overby

Patty Overby (second row, fourth from left) singing at the Mill Creek Art Walk in 2014.

“I’ve been with them for six years. I’ve always loved chorus, I sang in high school and at churches, but this is very different,” Overby said.

Voices Northwest Chorus is a group affiliated with Sweet Adelines International, an organization comprised of 500 women choruses and 1,200 women quartets internationally.

Every Monday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in Everett, the Voices Northwest Chorus practices its repertoire. The choir is divided in four parts; Lead, Tenor, Baritone and Base. Overby sings the lead part, which is most often the melody. One of the hardest parts of barbershop harmony, according to Overby, is learning to blend.

“You really have to learn to listen. The point of singing a capella is not to stand out, but it’s to blend in and sing in the same tonal space,” Overby said.

Overby started with the chorus after she noticed an ad in the paper looking for singers.

“Originally I had a version of barbershop in my head of old guys singing with canes,” Overby said

But when she went to a practice and audition, she was impressed.

“I came and they performed several songs for the people that showed up. They blew me away. At that point on, I was like, ‘wow, that’s not what I thought it was.’ It was incredible,” Overby said.

The group performs in a number of places, including nursing homes, public spaces and regional competitions.

On April 10 and 11, the Voices Northwest Chorus will be competing at a regional competition in Spokane. The group will sing two pieces— a ballad and an up tempo tune.  Prior to their competition in April, the chorus is performing at a free “Family and Friends” concert on Monday, March 30 at 7 p.m. at the Elk Lodge in Everett.

“The ballad is usually a softer song and the up tune is more dynamic and has a lot of pizazz to it,” Overby said.

Guests are always welcome to attend the group’s practices, and when Voices Northwest is not practicing for a competition, they put guests up in the risers and give them sheet music to follow along to.

“We believe that’s a good way for people to get a feel for singing and our style,” Overby said.

“If you like to sing and learn more about a capella, check out our website and come to any of our chorus rehearsals,” Overby said.