Boise Chordsmen heading to national competition; artistic director leading the way

Posted at 3:17 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 19:09:53-05

The Boise Chordsmen put on quite a show. So much so, it's easy to skip over Ian Kelly — the one in the middle, directing. Music is more than his hobby; it's practically in his DNA.

"My dad sang barbershop music, and I would sing it all around the house, and when I was eight, he finally let me come with him to a men's chorus rehearsal," said Kelly.

From there, he was hooked, singing on cruise ships, and in a quartet with his brothers, called Momma's Boys.

Eventually, he landed in Boise and now leads the Boise Chordsmen. The group has been singing for nearly 60 years.

"We don't require you to be able to read music or do all that stuff, we truly try to make it a community effort and try to help from the most basic singer," said Kelly.

Some of the men started at karaoke bars, and others performed on Broadway. Ian's been involved since 2017, getting everyone show ready.

"Performances are fun, but it's the journey to performances that make it worth it," said Kelly.

That journey starts with practice, and this fall, they saw just how practice pays off.

"There's a regional competition for barbershop choruses; top groups compete for the chance to represent northwest North America at the world championships in the summer," said Kelly.

You're listening to the winner of that championship, heading off the Los Angeles for the world competition.

"it's the first time any group from Idaho or Montana has won," said Kelly, "it was a moment of instant gratitude."

A childhood dream come true for Ian. Now, music is becoming a staple for his family, with his 2-year-old daughter already getting into the mix.

"She'll have Alexa play opera music, so she knows how to say 'Alexa, play opera!'" said Kelly.

Regardless of whether she continues to the family tradition, Ian always has a family to sing with.

"This is a family it really is," said Kelly, "they learn their music, they pour their hearts and souls, they're the ones the audience sees, the audience only sees the back of my head."