Norton performs with a cappella quartet

The Charlestones are an a cappella quartet. Brink Norton (second from left) has ties to Alexander City.

In Italian, a cappella means “in chapel or choir style.” Cappella is the Italian word for “chapel.” To sing a cappella means to sing without instrumental accompaniment.

Many of you probably have experienced this in the shower or when you watched the movie Pitch Perfect, which featured the all-girls a cappella group, Barden Bellas. Anna Kendrick’s performance of Cups became an instant hit on mainstream radio.

On March 28, the a cappella quartet The Charlestones will perform in Alexander City, sponsored by Alexander City Arts. The show will be held at the Benjamin Russell High School Auditorium at 7 p.m.

I have watched several videos of their performances online, and all I can say is WOW! This is going to be incredible! Many of their videos can be found on YouTube, and I highly recommend you check it out.

Formed in 2014 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the a cappella quartet consists of Todd Monsell (bass), Brink Norton (tenor), William Purcell (lead) and Stephen Spaulding (baritone). They run the gamut on musical styles with a playlist that includes Broadway, jazz, country, pop and spiritual. 

Fun fact: Auburn graduate Norton taught music in Alexander City for 10 years, sang in the First Presbyterian Church Choir and is excited to be back to perform.

“A cappella music is truly music in its purest form. The human voice is the most versatile instrument on the planet, and we love using that instrument to spread joy, beauty and love. We love getting the chance to share songs, both old and new, in unique ways,” said Norton. “On a personal note, I am looking forward to coming back to a place that was instrumental in shaping me as both an educator and performer.”

The group has performed at a variety of venues throughout the Southeast, and The Charlestones first album is Holy City Harmony.

According to Wikipedia, a cappella has a deep religious origin. Peter Christian Lutkin, the first dean of Northwestern University School of Music, popularized the concept in the early 20th century when he founded the Northwestern A Cappella Choir in 1906. Lutkin became a national spokesperson for a cappella technique of singing.

Another cool version of a cappella is known as barbershop music, the earliest documented vocal harmonies that originated in African-American barbershops in the 1930s. In 1938, the first formal men’s barbershop organization was formed, known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. In 2004, it rebranded and officially changed its name to the Barbershop Harmony Society. Today, the BHS has about 22,000 members in approximately 800 chapters across the United States and Canada.

Don’t miss the talented Charlestones performance at the end of this month. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on or

To learn more about The Charlestones, visit

~ Lacey Howell is a recovering English major from Auburn who now lives on Lake Martin, sells real estate, rides horses and loves good wine (but isn’t afraid of boxed wine). She is still bothered that Brad and Angelina broke up. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @LaceyHowell.