Celebration, a Dubai-based quartet, is passionate about the music that keeps them together

Four women from four different countries and different walks of life have a common passion - to sing beautiful harmonies without any musical instruments.

Aptly named 'Celebration', this quartet formed in Dubai rejoices in creating the music that keeps them together. They encourage other women to take up this wonderful hobby and are proud about being showcased along with two other quartets at a Christmas concert on December 17 at The Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

Each quartet member sings a unique voice part that plays a specific role in the overall harmonious blend of the songs. Jolyn Horton, American national and full-time teacher, has a warm voice that can sing very low notes, giving her the ability to be the 'bass' singer of 'Celebration'.

Jane Whiteside, Austalian national and librarian at a local university, has surprised herself with her ability to sing both above and below the melody, a fact that has firmly established her as the 'baritone' of 'Celebration'.

Dutch national Edith van der Deen, an administrative manager, has a beautiful bright voice making her the 'lead' singer who holds the melody to which the other singers have to harmonise. Deepa Dutia from India, a consumer consultant, sings the highest voice part called 'tenor' and takes pride in being the one to add the glitz to the song.

They discovered the various colours and textures in their voices when they met at the Dubai Harmony Chorus where, as chorus members under Phyllis Holmqvist's directorship, they learnt the basics of barbershop harmony.

"Last season the four of us got together to see if our voices blended well as a quartet and to our surprise, our voices were a perfect match," says Jane. "We practised for many weeks and got tremendous encouragement and guidance from Phyllis," adds Deepa.

The 'Celebration' quartet is testimony to the fact that one doesn't need formal vocal music training to be able to sing in the barbershop style.

The songs they sing are those that have been re-arranged in such a way that, when sung correctly, create wonderful harmonies that are pleasing to the ear. Sheet music is not used on stage and the singers have only themselves to depend on. "We can't fake it! We just have to memorise the notes and words," laughs Jolyn.

"Our favourite song as a quartet is the one we sang last season called Dancing in the Street wherein we substituted the location names in the song with places in Dubai," exclaim the four in unison. "This added a local flavour to our song and the audience had something to relate to", explains Edith.

The quartet shares an easy camaraderie and enjoys the time they spend together. "This summer, we attended some voice training sessions in Scotland and have brought to Celebration a renewed energy. Our experience has improved our sound," says Jane.

They maintain that singing together is 'loads of fun' and that it has brought them closer to one another. "I noticed the other night that we can actually feel each other and are even breathing together during the rendition of the songs," explains Deepa.

Today, the closeness they share gives a powerful dimension to the songs they sing. "It's exciting for us to return again this season and we hope the audience enjoys it as much as we do," says Jane.