Valdosta Daily Times

March 26, 2013

VHS students win first-place state quartet

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA —

Even with seven groups, when they didn’t hear their names as the third- and second-place winners, the Valdosta High Boys Quartet believed they may have scored the school’s first state championship win for male quartet singing.

As soon as the first syllable left the announcer’s mouth, “Val ...,” the group’s supporters erupted in cheers and applause.

Dexter Sharper II says it was closer to just Valdosta’s opening “V” sound that inspired the cheers.

“When they didn’t name us for fourth, third or second, I knew we had first,” Sharper says. “But I didn’t want to celebrate until the announcement. He said, ‘Vvvv...’ and everybody just started cheering.”

In the six-A, first-place Georgia High School Association State Literary Competition Boys Quartet win, Dexter Sharper II, 16, a sophomore tenor, was joined by fellow VHS students, brother Dylan Sharper, 14, a freshman tenor; cousin Joshua Sharper, 15, a freshman bass singer; and friend Antonio Hall Jr., 17, a junior bass.

At the beginning of the month, this quartet won the regional competition. They faced two other area groups. Two judges scored the VHS quartet at 197 points. They moved onto state competition.

Competing for the state title this month in Warner Robins, the quartet performed among seven competing six-A high schools from across Georgia. The Sharpers and Hall

performed two songs, “Poor Man Lazarus” and “Now Look Away.” The two state judges awarded the VHS quartet a total score of 198.

While they faced some groups that had performed together for many long months, even years, the arrangement of the three Sharpers and Hall began rehearsing as a quartet in November and December under the tutelage of Valdosta High teacher Ashley Layton Cooper. Yet they brought a lifetime and family heritage of music to the group.

All four teens come from musically talented families. The Sharper teens are part of a group called the Sharper Five, which they started in September. Individually, they perform in their respective churches. Dexter II plays piano while Dylan plays bass guitar at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church; Joshua plays drums and sings at Mount Calvary Baptist Church.

Though not a part of the Sharper Five, Hall sings with Union Cathedral’s youth praise team, adult praise team and choir. Wanting a fuller bass sound, Cooper tapped Hall to be the VHS quartet’s fourth member.

They say they only assembled this quartet for the competition, so they are uncertain if they will perform together outside of school, but they are already looking forward to defending their title next year when all four will still be VHS students.

Their reunion came earlier than expected. On Monday, the quartet state champions performed at the State Capitol in Atlanta.

Also in the competition, Valdosta High’s Lorna Chitty earned fourth place for girl’s extemporaneous speaking; she drew the speech topic of “tanning beds;” Hannah Findlay won second place for girl’s dramatic interpretation.