HISTORY of The DUKES Of KENT
A chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society in Kentville, Nova Scotia
The Dukes of Kent received its charter in 1965 as the first barbershop chorus in Atlantic Canada from the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A.), which has since been restructured as the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS). The chapter was sponsored and mentored by the Mountain City Chorus of Montreal, PQ who traveled to Kentville to participate in the Parade of Harmony charter show on May 22, 1965.
The Dukes initially numbered 25 charter members and under the direction of the late Wendell Phinney, the former mayor of Kentville, began a long tradition of excellence in entertainment in the Annapolis Valley and surrounding communities. From this humble beginning of 25, the Dukes have been as many as 80+ men on the risers and have garnered recognition throughout the Northeast District as a chorus with a distinction for perfection in its musical presentations. Today we average some 40 men on our member roster.
Since its inception, the Dukes of Kent have sought to give back to our local communities. We do and have done that in a variety of ways. We have encouraged the growth of barbershop harmony by sponsoring and mentoring other chapters in the Maritime provinces., such as chapters in Halifax-Dartmouth, Truro, Pictou County, Sydney, Amherst, Springhill, and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia; also Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton, New Brunswick; as well as chapters in Charlottetown and Summerside, PEI. The chorus is active in providing gratis performances for community fundraising events in local churches, hospitals, rehabilitation and nursing facilities, and long-term care facilities. We provide our support to Valley community functions with a gracious spirit and a dedicated willingness to contribute to worthy charity causes. Each Christmas we entertain in various venues to share the joy of the season in support of many charitable endeavours.
Our principal charitable support is with Sing Canada Harmony a registered charity established to unite Canadian a cappella singers through service to youth and children in schools and communities. We also provide donations to the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres whose mission is to ensure that persons with, or at risk for, hearing, speech, and language disorders will achieve an enhanced quality of life.
Over our 50 years, we have sung for the Governors General, provincial Lieutenant Governors and Premiers, and other national and international dignitaries. We have performed with our hearts at a variety of events from the renowned Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo to Acadia University. We have sung in churches, theatres, halls, school auditoriums, malls, hotels, airports, planes, ships, and buses, indoors and outdoors—and even in a cattle barn during our famed Valley Apple Blossom Festival. It is our mission to sing at every opportunity no matter how humble the venue.
Each year the Dukes of Kent participate in the Sunrise Division of the Atlantic Province's annual competition between choruses. Since our first participation in 1966, the Dukes of Kent have won the Sunrise Division Chorus Championship fourteen times, and currently hold the championship having attained the highest recorded score for this competition, making the Dukes of Kent the winningest barbershop chorus in Atlantic Canada. The Dukes have also competed at the Northeast District level several times achieving a very respectable showing in competition, including Best Small Chorus.
The Kentville Chapter extends an open invitation to all men of good character without discrimination to race, religion, or national origin to join the Dukes of Kent Harmony Chorus and share this remarkable history as we continue to preserve this captivating form of a cappella singing. The ability to read music is NOT a prerequisite. We have a place for you.
Our music is created with nothing but human voices coming together to create a rich and satisfying texture that is pleasing to the ears and invigorating to the soul. Our form of four-part harmony appeals to musicians of all levels--it allows you to find your voice and be a part of creating something that is greater than the sum of its parts.