|Type of post:||Chorus news item|
|Posted By:||Philomena Hughes|
|Date Posted:||Thu, 13 Aug 2020|
|As 2019 rounded the corner into 2020, you might have found Fatima Whelan singing in the front row of the ScotianAires chorus in Halifax, NS where, as a lead and then a tenor, she had been a member for about 13 years. A little farther back in time, you may even have enjoyed her performing with one of her quartets, initially as a tenor and most recently, as the lead in Arpeggio.
Fatima had always loved singing and performing, but as a member of Harmony, Inc. (HI), she experienced the positive impact of feedback from the best in the craft during the frequent coaching opportunities provided by many of HI’s judges. During an impactful session with the late Larry Clemons, she realized how rewarding it would be to be able to give to others the same sense of possibility and accomplishment. With a little encouragement from one of her mentors, Fatima signed up to test drive her judging skills through the “Best Seat in the House” program at the 2015 Area 1 (Atlantic) Contest and her journey to qualifying as a Harmony, Inc. Performance Judge began!
The path to Performance Judge meant Fatima was able to work with and learn from some of the best judges, coaches and educators from HI and the Barbershop Harmony Society. Every year Fatima attended HI’s Category School working and learning with her fellow judge candidates and judge mentors including the current Performance Category Mentor, Joe Hunter. And fortunately, leading the way as Performance Category Director for the majority of Fatima’s training was the engaging and energetic Theresa Weatherbee. Theresa had no doubts right from the beginning that Fatima was in the right place. Theresa explains: "I remember serving on the Area 1 panel back in 2015 in St John's Newfoundland, when we offered the "Best Seat in the House" program. Fatima filled the chair that weekend and it was exciting to see how well she did. She was a natural when it came to scoring, and her comments were spot on. You can imagine how thrilled we were to hear after that experience she had decided to enter the judging program. I was fortunate to have been the Category Director through her training and proud to have certified her this past January. Fatima, we are so happy to have you in the program, Congratulations!”
Not surprisingly, Fatima also made some lifetime friends. Stacy Hugman was also a Performance Judge Candidate working alongside Fatima. “Fatima and I have been rooming together for the past three years at Category School”, recalls Stacy. “We were fatefully put together in a room the first year, and haven’t looked back since. We instantly became friends and confidants. She is kind, thoughtful, considerate, insightful and most of all supportive! She will be a wonderful judge and the ScotianAires must be so proud to have another judge in their ranks! It truly has been a pleasure navigating the performance program with Fatima. Harmony, Inc. is lucky to have her and I am blessed that I met her. I can say with confidence, she is one of my best friends.”
Three years of preparation produced many great memories and a particular highlight for Fatima was attending Harmony University in 2018 where she took part in the coaching apprentice track. Fatima had the opportunity to learn from acknowledged leaders in the field and the classes left a powerful impression (not to mention the social time over ice cream!). But the most memorable moment for Fatima came at the beginning of 2020 when she received her certification. “All the love and support you receive from your peers and fellow harmony friends, it’s pretty special” explains Fatima. “I love how the category has been evolving and that we are always learning from each other as judges.”
It’s a difficult time at this moment in history for music makers. Fatima reflects on what music and Harmony, Inc. have meant to her and what it means now: “Music has been an incredible gift in my life. I think discovering Harmony, Inc. was like a full circle moment. I never imagined I would come to love and respect such an incredible organization where I have met some wonderful friends who love and support one another and where we are encouraged to grow, flourish, and embrace and honour who we are. ‘Harmony Strong’ is really apparent right now. Though there are no contests that I can judge, with our love of singing we are finding creative ways to keep connected and to continue to learn.”
Despite the need to physically distance, Fatima is realizing her dream of serving the barbershop community through education and sharing the love of the craft. She has been working with ensembles in online rehearsals and recently offered a class about overcoming performance anxiety as part of the HI’s virtual education initiative (HIVE). Fatima is remaining positive: “I look forward to the day when we can see each other and ring chords together. Certifying as a Performance Judge was a chapter, the journey continues and I am so excited for that!” We are excited too, Fatima. Congratulations!