For Heaven's Sake evolved through a ten-year span beginning in 1986 when Laurie Shepherd and Mary Ann Wert began singing in their first quartet together. Two quartets later, by adding Mary Ann's daughters one at a time, For Heaven's Sake emerged. They first joined their voices in late 1994, and went on to win the Harmony, Inc. International Quartet Contest in Saint John, New Brunswick, making them the 1996 International Quartet Champions. Aside from entertaining on barbershop shows and other public forums, this foursome was honored to represent Harmony, Inc. at the World Harmony Jamboree in Anaheim, California in July 1999. Along with many noted a cappella groups, they were selected to perform at the first-ever Sing 2001! A Cappella Celebration held in Nashville, Tennessee. They were honored by Harmony, Inc. in 2001 and again in 2014 with the the "Image of Harmony Award" given to a quartet for their outstanding service to their community, and their Harmony, Inc. Chapter/Area/International organization.They also hold the distinct honor of being the "oldest" active Queen quartet in Harmony, Inc.....ouch!
In the spring of 2012, Laurie announced she would be getting married and probably moving to Indiana in the near future. She asked us to find someone to replace her and suggested Lynn (Jacobs) Blakeney. Happily for all of us, Lynn agreed to step into Laurie's shoes. Welcome Lynn- thanks for saying YES! And Laurie - we love you and wish you much happiness!
The quartet has produced three recordings: "What a Wonderful World" which was nominated for a 1999 CARA (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award) for Best Barbershop Album, and won first runner-up for Best Barbershop Song by the Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA). Their second recording "Now and Again" was released in November 2003. Their third recording called "I Wish You Love" was released in the fall of 2008. This recording was also nominated for a 2009 CARA Award for Best Barbershop Song. A fourth CD, "Let's Live It Up!", our first one with Lynn, will be released in Spring 2016. It can be previewed here!
Lynn Blakeney (lead) first began her long and very happy barbershop journey by attending a Northern Blend Chorus rehearsals with her mother, Marcia. She enjoyed singing in a quartet with her Mom in the early years and later found that "just right" combination with Upstate Rhythm in 1997. She won her crown and International Quartet Champion title in 2001 and she has loved collecting crown jewelry and trinkets ever since! Lynn offers private vocal lessons and coaches chorus and quartets in her spare time. She is the mother to son Joshua and a loveable cat named Fin, and recently married the love of her life, Jim Blakeney! She joined For Heaven's Sake as their new lead in July 2012.
Mary Ann Wert (baritone) is a restaurant owner with her husband, Chuck. He was the bass in Cornerstone, a well-known BHS comedy quartet for over 20 years. In 1985 Mary Ann joined Northern Blend Chorus, and in 1995 became its front-line Director. Chuck and Mary Ann produced two lovely daughters who, at the tender ages of 8 and 11, began harmonizing with Mom and Dad and they formed their family quartet, Compound W. The foursome still sings together whenever they manage to be in the same place at the same time! In case you haven't figured it out, she is the mother of Katie and Lorie! Mary Ann and her husband enjoy traveling as much as possible with their friends and family.
Katie (Wert) Taylor (bass) "officially" became a barbershopper when she joined Northern Blend in 1987 at the age of 12. Her love of barbershop singing was probably the largest factor in her life that made her decide to pursue music as her career. She teaches K-12 vocal music. Katie and Ricky were married in July 1996, and the couple has added two sons to their family, Gavin in January 1999 and Zachary in October 2000. In 2003, Katie became Co-Director of Northern Blend with her mother. Katie also is a 2008 Harmony Queen with U4X in which she sings tenor with three lovely ladies from Chicago, IL. Katie also makes barbershop learning tracks which can be found on her website, TaylorTrax.
Lorie (Wert) Autote (tenor), like her sister, joined the chorus at the age of 12. She patiently sat through years of quartet rehearsals, absorbing by osmosis the style and quality of what eventually became her quartet. And so, "For Heaven's Sake" was born in early 1995. At age 18, she was the third youngest Harmony, Inc. member to bring home her Gold Medal! Lorie is a secondary Math teacher. Lorie and Christopher Autote (pronounced OH-tot) were married in 2000 and their sons, Drew and Evan were born in September 2003 and August 2006. Her sons are big barbershop fans as are their cousins, Gavin and Zach. It's a hope that one day the four boys, the third generation in the family, will be quartetting together.
For Heaven's Sake, in addition to performing on barbershop shows, is committed to sharing their knowledge and love of barbershop with today's youth ~ the future of our wonderful style of music! The quartet continues to encourage involvement with barbershop singing by teaching at Harmony Explosion Camps and working with other high schools kids. They are active with education throughout their organization as well. They have had many wonderful experiences, and hope to spread the "barbershop bug" to as many people as possible!!!