"The Men of Independence is truly an 'everyman' chorus. Very few of us are professional musicians or have formal music education beyond high school. What we share is a love for barbershop harmony, a drive to be the best we can possibly be as individuals and as an ensemble - and a genuine love for each other."
Gary Lewis was born in Toledo, Ohio on July 22, 1971. His musical “light” began to shine when at eight years old, he was asked to join his father in the adult choir at church. He has been singing ever since.
Gary’s first exposure to barbershop singing was a Disneyland record that contained the Dapper Dans singing “Coney Island Washboard.” He distinctly remembers how the barbershop sound captured him, and he tried to learn the parts by listening to the record over and over again. At age 10, he was hooked, but did not know the sound he was hearing was called barbershop harmony. Gary heard “live” barbershop for the first time during his senior year of high school. He attended the spring concert of the Bowling Green State University Men’s Chorus, where they sang their signature closer, “Please, Mr. Columbus.”
Gary began singing barbershop while studying Music Education at Bowling Green State University. His first quartet, “Which Wayz Up?,” was the Varsity Quartet for the Men’s Chorus. Gary sang bass along with Carl J. Cash III singing tenor, David Calland on lead, and Jon Jenz on baritone. In 1994, Gary moved to the tenor part in a new quartet who won the MBNA Collegiate Quartet Championship at the Pittsburgh Convention. With Gary on tenor, “The Real Deal” consisted of Eric Kauffman singing lead, baritone Justin Oxley (Yes, Jeff’s younger brother), and David McCutcheon, bass.
The opportunity of a lifetime came along in 1996, and Gary moved to Orlando FL to sing professionally with Disney’s acclaimed “Voices of Liberty.” Gary’s voice can be heard on the Liberty Voices latest CD, “A Slice of A Cappella.” While living in Orlando, he began singing barbershop as a replacement bass singer for the 1992 International Champion Quartet “Keepsake.” In 1998, Gary switched voice parts again, and moved to tenor to sing with “Platinum.” With Joe Connelly singing lead, Tony DeRosa on baritone, and Kevin Miles singing bass, “Platinum” captured the coveted International Gold Medal in Kansas City in 2000. Switching parts again, Gary won gold singing baritone with Max Q. Gary was the first person to win a collegiate gold medal and go on to win two SPEBSQSA International gold medals. He is also the only man to capture the gold on tenor and baritone.
Gary and his lovely wife Joy live in Independence, OH. Gary is the director of Choral Activities at Solon High School. He is also the director of the men’s chorus at the Singing Buckeyes Harmony Camp. Additionally, he creates learning tracks for several choruses and quartets in the Barbershop Harmony Society. Gary served as the director of the Pride of Toledo Sweet Adelines chorus from 2004-2007. The Men Of Independence marks Gary’s first time at the helm of a barbershop men’s chorus. Although he is a very busy musician, nothing brings him more happiness than his sons Adam and Robert, and daughters Jenna and Scarlett.