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Austin barbershop quartet singing in international competition

In two weeks, the Austin barbershop quartet Tempest will be flying out to Salt Lake City for a competition against groups from across the world.

AUSTIN, Texas — A group of Austin barbershop singers could soon call themselves the best quartet in the world, as these four men will soon be competing at an international competition -- the first time that's happened for an Austin quartet in more than 40 years.

Chuck Loesch (baritone), Daniel Cooper (lead), Mike Wilson (bass) and Chris Kirkland (tenor) make up the Austin quartet, "Tempest." This group qualified to compete in the 2019 Barbershop Harmony Society International Convention.

"We came up with Tempest because the definition of a tempest is a violent, windy storm," Loesch said. "That kind of describes us."

"The thing about Tempest is we're a new quartet," Kirkland said. "You don't need instruments. You don't need anything else. It's all a cappella."

Kirkland first found out about barbershop singing when he was younger on YouTube.

"It hooked me immediately," Kirkland said. "For us, we're not showing something to the audience. We're just allowing the audience to see us."

These four sing in the musical group "A Cappella Texas" together, being the first people to represent the organization at this competition in 42 years. It's something really special for Cooper.

"My dad was a barbershopper," Cooper said. "He was a member of the society and so was my grandfather. I was very much born into this kind of music. It's one of the only American original forms of music along with jazz and gospel."

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Mike Wilson has been singing barbershop for more than 20 years and said going to a competition like this is a huge opportunity for his group to show off their talents to fellow barbershop singers.

"I've seen the International Champion guys," Wilson said. "They're music educators. They're professional singers. They do this for a living. This is going to be great."

"For a lot of the guys that are up there competing, this is their fourth, fifth, sixth or 10th time that they've been up there," Loesch said. "And they still haven't gotten gold medals. It takes a lot to get there."

Tempest qualified for this competition with groups from around the world at the Southwestern District Convention this past May. Loesch said there are about 57 quartets that will compete in the quarterfinals two weeks from Tuesday. Then the semifinals will include 20 teams. Finally, the finals is made up of the 10 best quartets. From there, a champion is inevitably crowned.

"There's one winner -- the gold medalist," Loesch said. "This is what every barbershop chorus and quartet longs to do. It will definitely be the largest audience we've performed for. I'd love to make it a yearly thing if we could and work our way into that top 10 eventually."

The competition starts Monday, July 1 in Salt Lake City and lasts throughout that week.

RELATED VIDEO: Austin barbershop quartet Tempest perform a song


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