Four Quarters on a roll.
The Four Quarters ham it up with the Doo Wopin’ Around the World compact disc by Crystal Ball Records. The foursome, which sings the opening song, also appears on the cover. From left are Catherine Helferty of Douglas, Sarah McSheffrey of Renfrew, Lindsay Vaive of Renfrew and Rachel Helferty of Douglas.
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
RENFREW - Local audiences have had the pleasure of listening to
the vocal quartet of Lindsay Vaive of Renfrew, Sarah McSheffrey of Renfrew, and
sisters Catherine and Rachel Helferty of Douglas.
But now the rest of the world is tuning in to some of their
performances, thanks to YouTube, the international video-sharing website on
which users can upload and share videos.
American musician Bruce Hamby contacted the group early in 2009 to
entertain the possibility of singing two of his songs. In October, Crystal Ball
Records produced a compact disc, Doo Wopin’ Around the World, with Canadian,
Spanish, German and British groups featured on the cover.
The Canadian group the Renfrew-based The Four Quarters, who sang
the first song. In Time, engineered by James Hrkach out of his Arnprior-area
Drift Studio, is part of the album’s 28-song collection.
The Four Quarters are all younger than 20, but Hrkach, who teaches
visual art and drama at Arnprior and District High School, says they’re very
much in tune with their musical abilities.
“They know when they aren’t going exactly right. There’s a lot of
scrutiny and positive energy,” he says.
As for their sound, he adds: “I think it’s fantastic. I love the
blend on the harmonies and how they make sure the right chord comes out in the
The right blend may partly be the product of being long-time best
friends, who remain such despite being off at different universities after
graduating from St. Joseph’s Catholic High School.
Wherever they are, their name fits them to a tee.
One night, Rachel Helferty and her mom were doing dishes in their Douglas home when Joan concluded: “Why don’t you call
yourselves The Four Quarters because you’re just a little loony.”
Looney or not, they’re a hit with many viewers on their YouTube
channel where they’ve received about 150,000 hits, including 45,000 alone for
their The Best of Doo-Wop song.
The medley of four ’50s-style songs -
Teenager in Love, Lollipop, Earth Angel and Sh-Boom - makes Vaive laugh because of her role.
“I only say two real words,” she says. “I’m just saying
nonsensical words, while they’re weaving harmonies above.”
During the 2009 Renfrew
hospital gala, A Touch of Class, at the Best Western Renfrew Inn, they received
a standing ovation for the medley.
Now that the gals have a taste of musical exposure, they’d like
more, but aren’t banking on their musical talents for future bread and butter.
Yet they expect music to remain a focus in their lives.
Their director, arranger and pianist is Kevin McSheffrey, who has
a bachelor of music from the University
of Ottawa and teaches at St. Joseph’s High.
He counts himself lucky for his musical experiences with daughter Sarah
and her three musical companions.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoy working with these girls. It has tickled me
pink,” he says.
“I didn’t know if the CD was pie in the sky, but when they got
their image on the cover that was great.”
Now the plan is to produce their own CD later this year with
Crystal Ball Records in New York
State, after engineering
assistance from Hrkach.
It will be an entirely do-wop record, says Engel from his home in
the New City
suburb of Little Neck.
“Because of their age, talent and good looks, I can see the girls
catching fire, and it could lead them to somewhere else (other than doo-wop),”
But their doo-wop sound, he says, is fresh and clean and provides
the distinctive sound that thrived in the late ’50s and early ’60s before the
arrival of the Beatles.
Whether there’s one CD or more in the Four Quarters’ future, Kevin
McSheffrey says the future will be what it will be.
“My hope for the girls is we will get together each winter and
summer and sing a few songs. I’d like them to maintain their friendship. And I
think they have something unique together. I’ll certainly be here arranging
songs (for them, if they want me to).”
As Catherine Helferty says of their singing: “We’re not sure where
it’s headed.” To which Sarah seems to finish the sentence by saying, “But it’s
definitely gone farther than we thought.”
“I think the coolest part is to hear comments from all over the
world … We’re getting so much positive feedback.
“Every day we probably get 10 new comments (on YouTube),” she says
after remarks from such countries as United
Chile and the Netherlands.
Reacting to their recent musical successes, Lindsay adds: “We were
all friends before the quartet. To be able to sing with your best friends is
another level of bonding. “It’s really cool that we can all share this
experience. It’s just so much fun. I’d be happy even if this didn’t go
foursome’s song, In Time, also has a story playing on the Rockin’ Radio station
of the Internet.
throughout January, this song can be heard on www.rockinradio.com/now_playing.htm
Sarah says she doesn’t have musical-career aspirations, “but I
want to keep going as far as we can and just enjoy it.”
For now, the focus is on university, with the Helferty girls at
Queen’s University, Sarah at University of Ottawa,
and Lindsay at University
of Denver, where she’s
studying vocal performance.
Back home in Renfrew, Kevin McSheffrey is also working with The
Four Strong Winds, which has also grown out of St. Joseph’s High School’s highly musical
environment. Perhaps another foursome to keep an eye on, that group consists of
Christine Helferty, Molly Helferty, Natalie Walters and Bailey Rogers.