“I have sung next to high school kids, construction workers, medical doctors and military veterans. Music is a great leveler and nobody cares how much money I make or how old I am as long as I can carry my part. This has led to many friendships spanning generations that would have been unlikely in the normal course of life.”
Name and singing position: Bruce Henson, Bass
Joined Sound of the Rockies: 2006
Q: Where are you from?
A: I grew up in Austin, Texas during the 60s and 70s when music was quickly evolving and a huge variety of bands were playing every week. My brother ran a nightclub, The Hungry Horse, near the University of Texas. During my high school years, I would sneak in and listen to the acts including classic blues, jug band music, R&B, rock and roll and country.
We now live in SE Metro Denver.
Q. What do you do professionally?
A. For 30 years, my wife Nancy and I have run a residential real estate business, Heather Gardens Brokers.
Q. When did you start singing?
A. My earliest memories singing harmony music are as a kid at Christmas parties. Then, around fifth grade, I had a wonderful choir teacher who put up a concert of four-part harmony songs. The faces of the parents in the audience, astonished and delighted, hooked me on performing.
By junior high, I was playing bass guitar and singing backup vocals in a garage band for school dances. Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Otis Redding…great times.
Q. How did you come to a cappella?
A. In 1982, a business associate invited me to watch the Bookcliff Chorus of Grand Junction, CO rehearse. I was hooked in five minutes and joined the chapter and sang in our quartet, Grand Valley Serenade for several years. I also participated in a mixed swing jazz ensemble, where Nancy and I met. For more than 20 years, we did about half a cappella arrangements and performed on stage a lot.
Q. What led you to Sound of the Rockies?
A. I had long been impressed by the coaching style of Sound of the Rockies’ previous director, Darin Drown. Then, we went to see the chorus perform at Christmas time one year. Before long, three of the four men in our jazz group joined SOR.
Q. How is being part of this kind of chorus different from any other experience?
A. We throw together men of all ages and all backgrounds and give them responsibility for one thing: Their performance. I have sung next to high school kids, construction workers, medical doctors and military veterans. Music is a great leveler and nobody cares how much money I make or how old I am as long as I can carry my part. This has led to many friendships spanning generations that would have been unlikely in the normal course of life.
Q. What have been some of the highlights of your experience with Sound of the Rockies?
A. Being part of a competition-level chorus that has won seven or eight international medals since 2009 is like having our own Olympics. To compete with a handful of top groups for “Best in the World” is a chance that very few people get in any discipline. I am very proud of our award-winning performances.
Another proud moment that I will never forget was when we performed in Normandy for the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2019. We were the principal vocal presenters at two cemetery honors ceremonies. We also performed and walked in the parade at Sainte-Mère-Église, the first town liberated in 1944. For SOR to be able to make the trip, the project needed a team leader and I volunteered to head up the effort.* With the help of many, we organized and raised funds for nearly two years. In the end, 85 singers from five states traveled to Europe and took the risers in France. We paid our respects in harmony music that resonated in the hearts of veterans, visitors and family members who came. It was a true privilege to be a part of this historic occasion.
Q. What are your hobbies when you are not singing?
A. I play bass in a folk/country band and sing baritone in the Just a Minute! quartet. Nancy and I have horses so we trail ride in nice weather. We also love to travel.
Q. Share one thing about yourself that others might find surprising.
A. I lived in Belize for a couple of years running a bed and breakfast in Belize City with a 40-seat dining room where we hosted the Prime Minister and his entourage.
*Bruce was recently recognized as “Barbershopper of the Year” for his dedication to Sound of the Rockies and outstanding volunteer effort for the Normandy trip.
Top image of Just a Minute!: (from left) Johan Westberg, Bruce Henson, James Meyer and Colin Drown.