THE HISTORY OF THE JUBIL-AIRES
The founder, first president, and first music director of the Jubil-Aires was Reed Everhart. Also known as Pappy, Reed was a member of the Singing Capitol Chorus of the District of Columbia when he moved to Faifax in 1953 and opened a jewelry store with a piano in the back. (That location is currently the site of the Auld Shebeen Irish Pub and Restaurant in Fairfax, VA.) An informal meeting was held there on June 3, 1953 to see if there was interest in bringing barbershop singing to Fairfax. SPEBSQSA issued a charter to the Fairfax Chapter on November 30, 1953.
The name "Jubil-Aires" came from a comment by a JA wife who was present when the newly-chartered group was trying to come up with a name for the chorus. She said sometthing to the effect that "You all sing so jubilantly!", and that evolved into Jubil-Aires. Over the years it has been the Jubilaires, Jubil-aires, and Jubil-Aires. I was on the board in the middle of the 60s when the board decided we needed to have an established and consistent way of spelling and presentation and the current version was approved
The first Jubil-Aire show was held at the old Fairfax High School on February 19, 1954, and the chapter charter was formally presented. The Alexandria Chapter sponsored the new Fairfax Chapter, and the Harmonizer chorus appeared on that first show.
Singing competitions are held annually at all levels of barbershopping to qualify for the next level. The Jubil-Aires have won the right to represent the Mid-Atlantic District (SPEBSQSA's largest) five times at the International level - 1957, 1958, 1960, 1969, and 1972. The 1960 Internationals in Dallas resulted in a 5th place finish and bronze medalist status.
Jubil-Aire Les Hesketh, Jr. was SPEBSQSA International President in 1980, presiding over 35,000 barbershoppers in 700+ chapters. Along the way, Les was Jubil-Aire president, Area Counselor of the Year, Southern Division Vice President, Mid-Atlantic District President, certified judge in the sound category, and a member of the Mid-Atlantic District Hall of Honor. And through all this, Les remained active in his beloved Jubil-Aires.
The Juibil-Aires have had many chapter quartets over the years, but the most famous was The Forefathers. Formed in 1955, with Dale Clark as tenor, Jim Charnley as lead, Russ Johanson as baritone, and Lou Perlman as bass, the quartet had only two changes in personnel until retiring in 1994. Dick Buxton took over bass for Lou, and in 1977, Mark Ennis became bari for Russ. Billing themselves as the "Clown Princes of Harmony," the quartet entertained hundreds of thousands (and five presidents) from coast-to-coast and border-to-border, appearing on radio and TV and the convention circuit, as well as hundreds of barbershop shows. They are in the Grosingers Hall of Fame.
The outstanding barbershopping event in the 1950's and 1960's was the Watergate Concert. Chapters from the area presented a concert from a stage floating in the Potomac River near the Lincoln Memorial. After each chapter had its turn on stage, all joined to form one huge Chorus of the Potomac. Lou Perlman, bass for The Forefathers, pulled up on stage out of the water of the Potomac completely garbed in scuba gear. The event drew capacity crowds of more than 10,000. Watergate had a different meaning then.
Under a program of the national headquarters of SPEBSQSA to memorialize the events of September 11, called United We Sing, the Jubil-Aires have welcomed other male singers to join a chorus available to sing patriotic songs at events in the northern Virginia area. Among the locatioins where the chorus has sung was the Fairfax County Government Center, at which trees were planted to remember Fairfax County citizens killed on September 11.
With the comings and goings of military, government, and industry personnel in the Washington area, it is not surprising that former Jubil-Aires are, or have been, members of barbershop chapters in more than twenty-four states. Their memories of the Jubil-Aires must have been good, for five of these men went on to establish new SPEBSQSA chapters in Palm Harbor (FL), Outer Banks (NC), Smith Mountain Lake (VA), Kilmarnock (VA), and Culpeper (VA). One other was responsible for founding the national barbershopping society in South Africa - the Southern Part of Africa Tonsorial Society, better known as SPATS!