July 28, 2014

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Lake Effect Quartet to appear on ‘Let’s Ask America’

From left, Eeyan Richardson (bass), Matt Cook (tenor), Chris Foisy (lead) and Keith Parker Jr. (baritone) are the Lake Effect Quartet. PHOTO PROVIDED

From left, Eeyan Richardson (bass), Matt Cook (tenor), Chris Foisy (lead) and Keith Parker Jr. (baritone) are the Lake Effect Quartet. PHOTO PROVIDED

LORAIN — A local barbershop quartet hoping for bigger and better things can thank its baritone for a bit of national exposure. 

Lake Effect Barbershop Quartet, which includes lead singer and Lorain native Chris Foisy, will appear on the nationally televised game show “Let’s Ask America” at 7:30 p.m. Monday on WEWS-TV Channel 5.

Baritone Keith Parker Jr., a Cleveland resident, will vie with three other contestants for a $50,000 grand prize on the quiz show, which Foisy likened to “Family Feud.”

The foursome’s segment was taped a few weeks ago, according to Foisy.

“Keith had two to three meetings with the producers before they selected him,” Foisy said. “When he told them he was in a barbershop quartet, they said bring them in. They never saw us until the taping,” which was done from Parker’s apartment.

“We sang a number of bits for them,” Foisy said. “They liked us so much, they wanted us to be on the entire show.”

Foisy, the quartet’s senior member at age 35, and his fellow Lake Effect members know the outcome of the competition but are barred from talking about it because of non-disclosure agreements.

Parker didn’t have any coaching or help from his fellow songbirds.

“We were there as moral support,” Foisy said.

The show’s format sees four contestants try and match answers given most often on a variety of topics by surveys of 100 people.

Parker’s appearance has been a year in the making, according to Foisy, after the singer’s agent landed the initial audition for “Let’s Ask America.”

“Keith got in the show’s cycle at the tail end of filming for last season, which meant he was one of the first contestants for this year,” Foisy said.

Foisy, Parker, tenor Matt Cook, of Olmsted Falls, and bass Eeyan Richardson, of Cleveland, have been blending their voices since January when the group formed.

The foursome formed their quartet after singing together as members of the Men of Independence, a larger barbershop quartet based in Independence that is a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

The Independence singers placed 14th out of 30 barbershop groups that took part in an international competition in Toronto that featured quartets from around the U.S. as well as Australia, England and Sweden.

The singers range in age from 26 to 35.

“They call me Dad,” said Foisy, the eldest.

Interest in barbershop quartet singing is enjoying a resurgence, with the numbers of 20- to 30-year-olds joining groups exceeding those 50 to 60 years of age, Foisy said.

When they’re not harmonizing, the group stays busy with day jobs ranging from Foisy’s work as a commercial fire alarm salesman and Parker and Richardson’s insurance sales work, to Cook’s job as a physical education teacher.

The group’s upcoming appearances include the annual Golden Crescent Chorus barbershop quartet show that will be Nov. 23 at the Lorain Palace Theater.

“People have a hard time understanding how we spend so much time doing this but we just love it,” Foisy said.

Foisy’s father, Ray, was a member of the Elyria-based Cascade Chordsmen.

“We take it pretty seriously,” Foisy said. “We want to be really good and we believe we’re on our way.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.