Nodakords turn 50

Allan Blanks/MDN Members of the Nodakords rehearse Tuesday night at First Lutheran Church in Minot.

Dapper hats, snappy outfits and sophisticated vocals complete the dashing style of the Nodakords.

Over the course of 50 years, audiences have been captivated by the four-part harmony and debonair dance steps of Minot’s barbershop group.

From the North Dakota State Fair to surrounding area nursing homes, the Nodakords have performed gospel music, Disney classics and romantic ballads.

In addition to their vocal prowess and polished choreography, the Nodakords bring humor to the stage by playfully teasing each other during shows.

Bassist and original member Richard Leite expressed joy in his experience while issuing concerns about the Nodakords future.

“I don’t know where the time has gone,” Leite said. “I went to every practice and sang at many shows. We didn’t know that the Nodakords would be around this long. Perhaps we’re having the final show this fall.”

According to Leite, the traditional art form is fading from mainstream music due to an ongoing struggle to share the rich history and vocal stylings to younger generations.

In an effort to sustain the barbershop group, the Nodakords are welcoming Minot-area singers to learn the art of barbershop music.

“We’re looking for new members,” Leite said. “We’re also reaching out to former members as well.”

To practice with the Nodakords, previous vocal experience is a plus but is not a requirement.

“It helps if you have an ability to carry a tune,” Leite said. “If you can sing in your shower you may be able to sing at a show.”

Regardless of one’s singing ability, the most important attributes require a joy for barbershop music and a commitment to the Nodakords.

“Just come on down,” said Marty Graner, a member of the Nodakords. “You might decide I want to keep coming to this. I remember myself and another fella sang here one night and we had a ball.”

For Leite and Graner, singing with the Nodakords is more than a breath of fresh air, it’s their key to personal health and happiness.

“Singers live longer,” Graner said. “Since joining the Nodakords, I believe the government has done three studies. Each study proved that singers lead longer and happier lives. It’s a fact.”

Along with singing out loud, Graner believes the laughter experienced with the Nodakords is another reason why the barbershop quartet is celebrating 50 years of musical success.

“Today, people don’t laugh at themselves,” Marty said. “This is a problem in our society. During shows, we kid each other and we’re not afraid to hassle one another. The crowd loves it.”

Known for his bass voice, Leite has a sharp ear and sharper wit.

“When someone misses a note, Richard let’s them know,” Graner said. “If you make a mistake, Richard advises you to do it gracefully.”

Whether it’s their live performances or evening rehearsals, each member of the Nodakords appreciates the brotherhood of music provided by 50 years of traditional singing.

“When it’s 90 degrees outside and the mosquitoes are biting you, seeing the crowds enjoying our show makes it all worth it,” Leite said. “It’s a lot of fun.”