Barbershop Harmony Society
A parallel women's singing organization, Sweet Adelines International (SAI) was founded in 1945. A second women's barbershop harmony organization, Harmony, Inc., broke from SAI in 1959 over an issue of racial exclusion, with SAI (like SPEBSQSA) being a white-only organization at that time. Several international affiliate organizations, in countries around the world, add their own flavor to the signature sound of barbershop harmony.
The old official name spelled "barber shop" as two words, while barbershop is generally used elsewhere.
In reference to the acronym SPEBSQSA, the Society has said "attempts to pronounce the name are discouraged". Unofficially, it is sometimes pronounced as if it were spelled "Spebsqua".
The Society is governed by an elected board of directors, and administered by a 30-person professional staff. The BHS Board of Directors employs the Carver Policy Governance Model.
In 2003, in preparation for a new headquarters location, the Society sold both Harmony Hall, a historic lakefront mansion, and its nearby facility (known as Harmony Hall West) located in a strip mall which the Society purchased in 1976 and renovated. HHW had housed finance, merchandising, IT and membership. Operations and staff from both buildings were consolidated into a remodeled HHW.
In 2006 the Society announced plans to move its headquarters to Nashville, Tennessee. In August 2007, the Society completed the relocation to 110 Seventh Avenue North, in Nashville.
A key aspect of the Society's mission is in the preservation of barbershop music. To this end, it maintains the Old Songs Library. Holding over 100,000 titles (750,000 sheets), this is the largest sheet music collection in the world, excepting only the Library of Congress.
Harmony Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, was incorporated in 1959 as a charitable subsidiary of the Barbershop Harmony Society; it raises financial support for the Society's programs.
To promote and improve barbershop singing, the Society annually runs international and district level contests for choruses and quartets.
When a quartet wins the international gold medal, they are considered champions forever and do not compete again. A chorus that wins the gold, however, must sit out of competition for two years, and thus may compete for the gold medal again in the third year following their win.
- Cardinal District (CAR)
- Carolinas District (NSC)
- Central States District (CSD)
- Dixie District (DIX)
- Evergreen District (EVG)
- Far Western District (FWD)
- Illinois District (ILL)
- Johnny Appleseed District (JAD)
- Land O' Lakes District (LOL)
- Mid-Atlantic District (MAD)
- Northeastern District (NED)
- Ontario District (ONT)
- Pioneer District (PIO)
- Rocky Mountain District (RMD)
- Seneca Land District (SLD)
- Southwestern District (SWD)
- Sunshine District (SUN)