The barbershop quartet Port City Sound of Portland, Maine, lost a competition in New Orleans on Jan 7. But the singers appear to have won the Internet’s heart with the viral video of an impromptu concert aboard a US Airways flight.
“That gig [on the plane] was totally unplanned, but it was a lot of fun,” says Jim Simpson, 70, who was the bass voice those on the flight heard singing "Under the Boardwalk." “We’re certainly never shy about singing for people so when the stewardess asked us, well, we were happy to oblige.”
Simpson said that there were about 27 quartets in the BHS Midwinter Convention held there Jan. 6-11 competition which was for senior singers, “We represented the Northeastern District and came in about 25th in the bunch.”
The competition requires each quartet’s age to exceed 240 years of age combined with no member being below 55 years-of-age. Simpson says, “We had that number beat handily!”
Simpson and the rest of the group were asked to sing when the flight was delayed. US Airways flight attendant Kari Mann decribes what happend in the video posted on YouTube:
“AFTER we had boarded (I'm a flight attendant). I started talking to the passengers and realized we had a barbershop quartet in our presence. I asked them to sing and most of the passengers began video taping! It was such a great moment... The mood changed and our passengers were awesome for the whole 5 hours they were on the plane! One of my favorite moments!!! Thank you to Port City Sound for creating a wonderful memory!!! #usairways”
According to Simpson, the flight was arranged via US Airways, but was in fact a commuter plane chartered from Republic Airways.
“I have no idea how that stewardess knew we were a quartet,” Simpson said. “That was some pretty sharp work on her part.”
This is far from the first time performers have been asked, out of the wild blue yonder, to help elevate the mood on a flight. It seems long flights and delays on the ground make aircraft prime venues for impromptu performances.
Here are six musical moments on the runway and some that create a whole new meaning for top billing (can you get any higher than 35,000 feet?).
- On April 1, 2014 Australian cast member, Toni Stewart captured, an amazing impromptu Circle of Life performance on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.
- When a group from The Philadelphia Orchestra found itself delayed on the tarmac for three hours waiting for their flight from Beijing to Macao as part of the 2013 Residency & Fortieth Anniversary Tour of China, a quartet of musicians decided to provide a "pop up" performance for the passengers on June 7, 2013.
- Even before the flight begins one flight attendant for Southwest Airlines turned the pre-flight safety and beverage lecture into a RAP on Jan. 6, 2010.
- For the non-singer, another musical flight of fancy that’s become popular is the in-flight selfie lip-sync videos posted by bored passengers on long flights. A parody of A Great Big World's "Say Something" featuring Christina Aguilera aboard a Tigerair flight from Singapore to Hong Kong was posted to YouTube on Nov. 23, 2014.
- This was followed Dec. 18, 2014 by a sequel featuring Walt Disney's Aladdin song with a rendition of 'A Whole New World' on an Emirates A380 between Singapore and Dubai.
- Not all airborne performances are spur of the moment. Here’s a U.S. Air Force flight crew that has put out two videos on YouTube demonstrating how music keeps their spirits up, up, and away.