Ruston's Sweet Adeline chorus brought home two medals from regional competition in Houston this spring, and leader Sheila Nugent attained a new directing level.
Piney Hills Harmony won third place among small choruses and also fifth place overall among the 14 choruses that competed in the March 17 event. Three other choruses sang in non-competitive divisions, and 19 quartets competed in a separate contest that weekend.
The fifth-place overall award came with the invitation to sing on the Show of Champions the closing night of the competition.
"Our goal this year was to score 500 points or above," chorus President Judy Sisson said. "We've done that before, but not at a time when an international program was in place to award our musical leader with the title of Harmony 500 director. This program began just a couple of years ago."
The distinction is in addition to Nugent's already being a certified director through the Sweet Adelines International organization.
This year Piney Hills Harmony scored 511, the chorus' highest score ever. Earlier 500-level scores secured the chorus first- and second-place small-chorus honors in regional competition. Region 10 includes choruses from San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama.
"It's always a wonderful thing when you're privileged to do something that you really enjoy," Nugent said. "It's a huge bonus to take what we've been practicing on and what we've been coached on for months and to have some of the most well-trained ears in the world to say that we've improved and that we're delivering a good performance."
Choruses are scored in four categories: sound, music, expression and showmanship. Piney Hills Harmony improved in each of those areas this year.
"What a noteworthy time for Piney Hills Harmony to accomplish this achievement," Sisson said. "We celebrated the 30th anniversary of our original chartering with Sweet Adelines International this past year. Right after New Year's, we implemented a positivity campaign, and heading into contest, we stayed true to its motto, 'We can do it!' This is an organization with the aim of empowering women of all ages through education and performance."
Piney Hills Harmony currently has 29 members from six parishes, ranging in age from 13 to 80.
The chorus rehearses in the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church of Ruston, 212 N. Bonner St., on Thursdays and is always looking for additional women who would like to make friends and learn more about singing a cappella harmony.