The Fairfax Jubil-Aires are thrilled to have Richard R. Lewellen as their Director of Music and Performance. Richard is well known in the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) as an accomplished a capella vocalist (see below), chorus director (see below), barbershop harmony coach and Singing Category judge. He started his career in barbershop as a teenager and has over 30 years of experience, and he is repeatedly invited to serve as a faculty member for the Society’s annual Harmony College/Director’s College, the premier educational event for the BHS. He has also produced professional recordings, contributing as a vocalist and managing a significant portion of the post-production process. Before expanding on Richard’s barbershop career, though, let us introduce you to his many other accomplishments.
Richard earned a BS in Behavior Science with emphasis in government relations and politics at National University in San Diego, CA in 1989. He attended Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA, from 1988-1991. Over the years, Richard has become increasingly involved with those with special needs – not only as the parent of a child with Autism who receives many kinds of therapy, including music therapy, but also as the office manager of a busy speech and physical therapy agency that provided services for children. He also worked as a trained lay advocate in New York State. Richard is currently pursuing a graduate certification degree in “Music Therapy” at Shenandoah University’s Conservatory in Winchester, VA. The Jubil-Aires are excited about his work and look forward to finding ways to contribute to such a worthy cause. Look for more about this in the future.
Richard began singing barbershop harmony in his first year of high school at Beverly Hills HS in 1978. “During my first year of High School, I met a guy who became my best friend,” he recalls. “He had just started barbershopping and his Dad had started a few months earlier. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Barbershop Harmony Society ever since.”
Lewellen’s mother was the first musical influence in his life. She during college she was a concert pianist, and Lewellen and his sister both took a few years of piano as children. Lewellen has fond memories of the beginning of his love for music. As a child, one of his favorite possessions was a recording of the story of Aladdin. The background music was Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”, which Richard still claims as his favorite piece of music. (Maybe there will be a barbershop version of that in the future! See the article about the Jubil-Aires latest “life-time” member, Larry Wright. The Wrights and Lewellens have know each other since they met years ago in CA.)
Disney also proved to be a large musical influence as “Fantasia” had a large impact on Lewellen. It was Disney’s adaptation of Kipling, however, that he really loved. “Jungle Book” featured a vulture barbershop quartet and I couldn’t get enough of them,” Lewellen said.
Like many barbershoppers, Richard has moved around the country with his day job and family requirements, but wherever he called home, barbershop was a huge part of his life. Listed below are some very impressive highlights from his musical experience over the years and the awards and recognitions he has received:
2008‐2010: Musical director, Seneca Land District Youth Chorus (SLAM), Warsaw, N.Y. (Barbershop
2007‐2010: Musical director, Friends of Harmony, East Aurora, N.Y. (Barbershop Harmony Society)
2007‐present: Certified Singing Category judge, Barbershop Harmony Society.
2003‐2006: Musical director, Alexandria Harmonizers, Alexandria, Va. (Barbershop Harmony Society).
Led the chorus to 9th, 6th and two 4th place finishes at International competition, and four district
2000‐2002: Musical director, Voices of the South, Birmingham, Ala. (Barbershop Harmony Society)
2001‐2002: Musical director, Magic City Performing Arts for Children, Birmingham, Ala.
1993‐2000: Assistant musical director, Big Chicken Chorus, Marietta, Ga. (Barbershop Harmony
1992‐1993: Musical director, Los Angeles Harmony Express Chorus, Los Angeles, Calif. (Barbershop
1990‐1993: Lead section leader, Masters of Harmony, Santa Fe Springs, Calif. (earning the first two International Championships with the multi‐time gold medalist chorus of the Barbershop Harmony Society)
1990‐1991: Tenor, Harvard‐Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, under the direction of Jameson Marvin
Awards and recognition
2009: Seneca Land District Quartet Champion, singing baritone with Empire State Quartet
2005: Mid‐Atlantic District Quartet Champion, singing baritone with Four Aces
2005: 4th place International Chorus Contest medalist, director of Alexandria Harmonizers
2004: 3rd place International Quartet Contest medalist, singing baritone with Riptide
2004: 4th place International Chorus Contest medalist, director of Alexandria Harmonizers
2003: 5th place International Quartet Contest medalist, singing baritone with Riptide
2003: 6th place International Chorus Contest medalist, director of Alexandria Harmonizers
2002: 4th place International Quartet Contest medalist, singing baritone with Riptide
2001: 4th place International Quartet Contest medalist, singing baritone with Riptide
2000: 6th place International Quartet Contest finish, singing baritone with Riptide
1993: Dixie District Quartet Champion, singing lead with Atlanta Power Co. Quartet, Marietta, Ga.
1993: Barbershopper of the Year, Marietta, Ga., chapter
1990, 1993: Gold medalist as singer and lead section leader of Masters of Harmony Chorus, Calif.
1982: Far Western District Quartet Champion, singing bass with Pacifica Quartet, Southern Calif.
1981: Southern California West Novice Quartet Champion, singing bass with Pacifica Quartet, Southern Calif.
Richard and his family moving to Virginia has provided a marvelous opportunity for the Jubil-Aires, even as we know it has been a great loss for the choruses in New York that he has been directing. In the words of Mark Karwan, president of the East Aurora, NY Friends of Harmony chorus:
“I have never met anyone with the personal skill set of Richard Lewellen. Yes, he is clearly a very intelligent, highly articulate communicator and engaging public speaker. More importantly, he has been able to reinvigorate and inspire a group of very diverse individuals. Richard uses a compliment more effectively than anyone I’ve seen. ”
One thing that ranks higher than barbershop in Richard’s life is his family. His wife, Christine, is a talented singer, as well, and she is the daughter of a well- known barbershopper, Bob Fuest, the lead-singer of a number of District Champion quartets in the Seneca Land District. The Lewellen’s have two daughters who also love to “sing barbershop at the top of their lungs.”