The seven ladies of the Mountain Belles barbershop singing group have been through loss and joy since the act’s start in 2003, but have remained true to their mission — bringing a cappella music to the community. The women range in age from 51 to 72, but have had a member as young as 11 years old.
The Mountain Belles began as an outlet for singers during the off-season from the Truckee Tahoe Community Chorus. Brandy Gerbi, who passed away a year after forming the Mountain Belles in 2003, was the mastermind behind the group. Gerbi was persistent in getting other members to join her. Current member Lynne Larson was watching an air force band perform with her husband when Gerbi sat down next to her and asked if she sang. Larson explained she was not a singer, but Gerbi was not one to take no for an answer. Larson called Gerbi back to say she would not be coming to practice, and Gerbi replied with, “Yes you are.” Larson attended the rehearsal, and is still an active member today.
All that is required to be a Belle is a passion for music. The women memorize their lyrics, but they all agree they love this aspect, for it keeps their brains exercising.
The Mountain Belles have a presence at a variety of local events. They perform at the Truckee Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony, Truckee Tahoe Airport AirFaire, and Truckee Thursdays, to name a few.
They are always looking for new members and one doesn’t have to be a professional singer to join, just a voice to blend with the others. Some of the women reminisced back to their childhood days when they were told that they couldn’t sing in school because their voices weren’t good enough, and now they are an essential part of the Mountain Belles.
Mountain Belles is a nonprofit charitable educational organization, which survives on grants and donations. The most recent loss for the Belles was the passing of their beloved friend Holly Beatie in January. The women stayed strong and kept singing to process their grief.
“When dependable, fabulous women with like interests get together there is only empowerment,” said member Suzanne Carlson of Truckee. “We can and will meet the challenges for this singing group to go on with creativity and smiles.”
Info: The Mountain Belles rehearse every Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., Truckee Tahoe Airport. For more info contact Lynne Larson, (530) 582-8749
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