SYCAMORE – David Lundberg of Sycamore first heard of the Kishwaukeys and Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America when he was working as a postal carrier in July 1973.
While at work, he saw an envelope with the SPEBSQSA acronym written in bright red in the mail. He jotted down the contact information and called during his lunch break. He was invited to join the group, and he has been a member ever since, nearly 45 years.
Lundberg also is the assistant director of the Kishwaukeys Men’s Barbershop Quartet as well as its PR vice president.
For the past 28 years, Lundberg has attended Harmony College, sponsored by SPEBSQSA, which has since shortened its name to the Barbershop Harmony Society. The week-long music education program offers courses in song writing and arranging, script writing, vocal techniques and directing. More than 700 people attend Harmony College each year from across the U.S. and from more than 13 countries around the world.
Lundberg met with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to discuss the Kishwaukeys, Harmony College and his love for the music and camaraderie of barbershop.
Milton: How long have you been singing?
Lundberg: I have been singing for more than 65 years, and almost 45 years in the Kishwaukeys. I also sing at my church choir at Salem Lutheran Church and in the DeKalb Festival Choir. I’ve been singing for as long as I remember. My first at-home recording was of me singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” on a 78 record. I don’t think I have that one anymore, but I still have some other recordings.
Milton: Does your family also sing?
Lundberg: My son also sings in the Kishwaukeys. He started when he was 11 and is now 32. My family supports and loves our singing. My wife’s name is Eena, and I have five children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Milton: Tell me more about Harmony University.
Lundberg: I first attended in 1977, and have been attending every year since 1977 except 1996. It is a weeklong school for those interested in barbershop. Classes cover everything barbershop-related, from classes about the administrative aspects of running a local barbershop chapter to the physics of sound. Harmony University used to be held at Missouri Western State University, and then in Columbus, Ohio. Now it’s held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Milton: What do you like most about attending?
Lundberg: I like that I can meet people from all over the world that share the same interests. There are several different schools within the school: music directors, educators and the Next Generation, or for ages 26 and younger. I’ve met so many people, and we’ve remained friends over the years. One year, I met a fellow from Sweden with the same last name as me. We realized that we’re probably not related, though.
Milton: Tell me more about the Kishwaukeys.
Lundberg: The Kishwaukeys were founded in 1961 as the Kishwaukee Valley Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, or SPEBQSA. Now SPEBQSA is known as the Barbershop Harmony Society. There are 10 or 11 members in the Kishwaukeys, and the average age is about 70. We used to wear vests and hats, now we wear a pullover with a logo. We used to sing songs from the turn of the century, and not this century. Now we sing more modern songs, like Elvis, The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
Milton: Do you have any upcoming performances?
Lundberg: Our next performance is Sunday, Nov. 5, at the Stage Coach Theatre.
Milton: Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
Lundberg: I’m retired, but when needed, I help at the HoKa Turkey Farm in Waterman. I’m a Vietnam veteran, and I also like helping other veterans when I can. I am a driver for DeKalb Veterans Assistance, I help with Honor Guard for veterans’ funerals and I assist with bingo at the Sycamore VFW on Wednesday nights.
Milton: Are there openings to join the Kishwaukeys?
Lundberg: We are always looking for new members. Any male that likes to sing can join. My son was 11 when he joined, and other young sons and grandsons have joined. Practices start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and are held at the First Congregational Church, 615 N. First St. in DeKalb. For more information about the Kishwaukeys or to join, anyone can call me at 815-895-5955.