Just three performances remain for retiring 13-year Boca Barbershoppers Director Sarah Rideout Slight.
She'll direct the 45-member chorus April 2-3 at Boca Grande United Methodist Church before wrapping up her career with the Easter production.
Slight's stepping down is a family matter.
Director Sarah Slight leads the Boca Barbershoppers during the 2010 Christmas tree lighting concert.
"Mother is 91 and not in good health," Rider said in a phone interview from her Venice home. "The struggle for me to spend enough time with her and keep my balls in Boca Grande up in the air - it's just too hard.
"I feel my first responsibility is to my family."
She and her husband moved to Florida in 1994 to be with their parents at the end of their lives. Her mother is the last surviving parent.
What: The Boca Grande Barbershop Chorus
Where: Boca Grande United Methodist Church
When: 3 p.m. April 2 and 4 p.m. April 3
Director: Sarah Slight
Songs: "Sentimental Journey," "Coney Island Baby," "What a Wonderful World" and 15 others
Also appearing: Bocapella, another singing group from Boca Grande.
Tickets: $10 at the door.
"I just need to be as much help to her as I can," she said.
Born in New York on Valentine's Day in 1942, Slight just missed being a third-generation Floridian but she came early while her mother was at school.
The minister's daughter has lived all over Florida as she embarked on a 45-year musical career. Her longtime love of barbershopping had to overcome an initial deep distaste.
"I thought barbershoppers were people who sang on street corners drunk," Slight recalls. "I wasn't interested at all."
Two church choir members helped change her attitude by insisting she come to a performance in 1968.
"It blew my socks off," she said. "They do everything from memory. That's terrific in a choral group. I was sold right then."
She came to Boca Grande in 1998 after Blair Walker, a former director of the Boca Barbershoppers, turned over command of the 60-member Lemon Bay Chord Co. to her in 1996.
"He knew I knew barbershop," she said.
The Bpca Barbershoppers were then under the direction of Dr. Jerry Hutchison, who had a stroke and later had to relinquish control just three weeks before a show.
"He made a pretty good recovery and even directed some after his stroke," Slight said. "But when he got close to the show he just didn't have the energy. Blair called me in a panic and asked me to jump in."
After her cool performance under pressure, she was named permanent director and the Barbershoppers began their musical odyssey all over the island.
"We've performed in a lot of different spots," Rider said. "We started at the library loggia, then we went in Boca Grande Community Center and the tall guys toward the back, their heads were in the curtains. We had to figure out something to do."
They performed in cramped surroundings at the Boca Beach Club a few times before finding a home at the Lighthouse Church. "Even the Lighthouse Methodist Church is still not big enough," Slight said.
A search for her successor is under way.
"Barbershop is an animal unlike all others," Slight said. "It's not like being a normal choral director in our church choir. It's four-part au cappella with much work on vowel sounds. A person needs to be trained to be an effective barbershopper director."
Rider said she leaves the position with many good memories.
"There's so many wonderful people and so many good times we've had," Slight said. "I've absolutely achieved all my goals here. They are a wonderful group open to really working hard. We only rehearse three months out of the year. We do do a Christmas show but even then we fall back on things we learned from way back. When we start our spring show and put on a show April 2-3, that's unheard of in barbershop chorus. They are really w with-it group, work hard and give me total control of them."