Ok – so those of you who are barbershoppers, don’t get upset… (especially my dear wife!) With no disrespect to any of the talents of today’s champ tenors – especially the amazing Drew Kirkman of Michigan Jake, the smooth Tim Broersma from Realtime, and the astounding Tim Waurick of Vocal Spectrum – I have a NEW favorite tenor. But he’s no “new” tenor! He was the tenor from the 1961 International Champion quartet, the Suntones, Gene Cokeroft (see quartet pic, far right).
I’m not a judge, but my ear tells me this man had such an amazing talent from God, its nearly unbelievable. AND, he’s still a great tenor today! The Suntones don’t quite ring as loud as they once did, their Bass singer passed away a few years ago and the replacement is the Baritone’s son (Todd Wilson of Acoustix, 1990 Champs), and they don’t have the control they once mastered. However, nobody has as sweet, tender, brassy voice as Gene. What’s more, if you want a rip-roaring tag that has a loud tenor hanger, he’s got that too. Finesse/power, sweetness and control are some of the few adjectives that come to mind with this great singer.
Maybe I’m just growing up. When I started singing, like any other college guy, the loud ringer tags and powerful tenors made the impression on me. Finally, I feel like I’m starting to understand quality regardless of the era, regardless of the different style of song, and regardless of my previous biases. I mean this is a man who could push out almost any tenor of today and show that what he had 40-45 years ago was just the beginning. Now, HE’s all grown up and has mastered the whole package: entertainer, crooner, ensemble blend/harmony singer, soloist, and all-around nice guy. I’ve had the privelege of visiting with him once or twice, and I was a nobody… yet he made me feel like I had a real future, was kind and warm regardless of my anonymity.
I love the great new quartets. If anything, I’m a progressive quartet guy (the style should continue to evolve, as should our song selection), but I’d be a fool not to respect a man (and a quartet) that has set the standard. He’s also still very active in the Society, and a fine judge. Feel free to check out the story of the Suntones, and see some pics of this famous quartet by clicking “the Suntones.” Thanks Gene!