The Virginia Gentlemen, fondly known as ‘The Gents’ to their families and friends, are men who come together from every walk of life in order to spend a few hours each week developing their own singing abilities, cultivating friendships, and creating glorious four-part a cappella harmony.

The Gents are the Roanoke Valley Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, formerly known as the Society for the Preservation & Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. Formed over forty-six years ago, they have continued to bring music into the lives of both students and seniors throughout the community through their outreach and their performances. Their ages have ranged from twelve to the eighties ~ fathers singing with sons, boys singing with men ~ all working toward one common goal: the chord that rings!


Linda Sherman has been coaching and directing the Gents intermittently for the last six years, and in 2016 accepted the position as our full time director. With long experience in choral directing and piano performance, she also currently sings lead in Capriccio, a female barbershop quartet, is a member and assistant director of the local women’s barbershop chorus Star City Sound, and directs Caroloa, a volunteer seniors’ chorus.


Barbershop music has been around formally for seventy-nine years. Beginning first with young men gathering on street corners to sing melodies with impromptu harmonies, its roots probably date back to spirituals. It has progressed in image from the straw-hat-striped-suit clad quartets to blue-jean-shirt-jacket clad quartets, but the music itself is timeless!

The music is sung a cappella, with four parts: the melody is usually sung by the lead voice, the tenor sings above the lead, the bass anchors the chord, and the baritone fills out the chords with all the notes needed to make the chords sound full.

Barbershop music is homophonic; that is, every melody note has its own individual chord. There are some chords that are used all the time, and some that are almost never used.

When the four parts are perfectly in tune and balanced correctly, there is a phenomena that is unique to barbershop singing: the “ringing” of the chord. When that happens, it’s as though there are five or more parts being sung instead of only four. It is truly exciting . . . and brings the men back over and over again to work together toward being able to hear that happen!