written by Paul Huff with In-A-Chord
In January, my singing partner Cindy Ballaro asked me if I’d ever heard of the Senior Games or the Silver Arts competition. I had not heard of either one. Cindy enthusiastically told me it was a big deal for hundreds of thousands of seniors nationwide, and that she had entered us in the local “Silver Arts competition” under the category of small group-singers.
The night of the local competition, I had no idea what to expect. It was well-organized with a packed auditorium. Back stage, there was everything from singers, dancers, musicians to even a group of senior cheerleaders.
The level of talent was simply amazing. I began to wonder if Cindy and I could even compete with these talented individuals, but here we were, about to perform. As we awaited our turn, Cindy reminded me that we only had three minutes to perform; if we went longer than that, we would be disqualified.
After we began singing, the next several minutes seemed like a blur to me. Once backstage, I could hardly even remember singing, yet the other competitors were singing our praises, encouraging us and wishing us well. After all the acts were completed, we all sat together backstage while the judges made their final decisions. There would be a Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal winner in each category, and an overall Best- in-Show (who would represent Charlotte-Mecklenburg in the State competition later in the year.)
Finally, they called all of us out onto the stage. In category after category, the medals were awarded. When the small group singers Gold Medal was announced, Cindy let out one of her contagious laughs, cluing me in that we had, in fact, won it in our category. Then came the Best-of-Show announcement, and to our surprise they called out “In-A-Chord!” Now things were about to get even better as we started to prepare for the State competition.
Late September Cindy and I drove to Raleigh for the NC Statewide Silver Arts competition. We had already been advised that there would be no ‘Best-in-Show’ at this competition because there isn’t a national level for Silver Arts yet. So we set our sights on winning the Gold Medal in our category… but that wasn’t going to be easy.
My initial take on the State competition was that everything in Raleigh was simply bigger and better. A few dignitaries attended to judge the competition. Groups warmed up backstage as we watched in amazement at how talented these seniors were. The costuming in Raleigh was even more colorful and elaborate than it had been locally, Cindy and I do sing together quite a bit, and we are usually pretty confident when we perform, but we needed to alter the beginning of song we were singing to fit the 3 minute time limit, and that was causing us some anxiety as we took the stage. At the end of the song, we honestly thought we might be disqualified for going over. As they were calling out the medalists, we had NO idea what would happen…would we be disqualified?? When we won the Gold Medal in our category, we both let out a sigh of relief, followed by BIG smiles.
What had started out as a venture into the unknown in Charlotte was now like achieving a dream that you never really had. I remember telling Cindy that I wished I had known about this years ago. It was fun and we made some great friends. If you’re reading this, you can no longer claim you don’t know about Senior Games and the Silver Arts competition. We highly encourage you to get involved and just have fun, two of the key ingredients to a long life. Here’s wishing that yours’ is long in quality and quantity.