South London music society members mourn women’s barbershop pioneer

The founder of a women’s barbershop chorus who steered it to a string of awards has died aged 76.

Jenny, who passed away at home on April 6, was an accomplished musical director and arranger in the field of barbershop singing, and well known for her achievements in the UK and abroad.

She founded Coulsdon-based women’s barbershop chorus, Surrey Harmony, in 1990 and chartered the chorus with international barbershop organisation, Sweet Adelines International (SAI), in 1992. She was responsible for leading and directing the chorus to many successes over the years, including five regional gold medals, seven regional silver medals, two wildcards, and seven international appearances.

At the 2009 international competition, she directed Surrey Harmony Chorus to the highest place
ever achieved at the time by a UK chorus. She was responsible for growing the chorus from its small start with just 14 singers, to over 80 members.

She was also a member of a number of quartets, most notably with Zigzag, which achieved
success with a bronze medal at regional convention and a gold medal at Sligo Music Festival.

Jenny pioneered women’s barbershop for mainstream media through Surrey Harmony’s involvement in Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year and a televised concert at St James’ Palace. She was a gifted arranger and her home region, Region 31, continue to this day to sing the anthem Quartet of Nations, which she wrote and arranged.

Jenny’s reputation as a musician, singer and arranger, has spread far and wide in the barbershop
world, with tributes being received from across the world on Surrey Harmony’s social media
following the announcement of her death.

Alongside her love of barbershop singing, Jenny also played fiddle for Merstham-based
‘The Wild Hunt’ Morris band for many years. She was a keen gardener and wildlife enthusiast, and
a supporter of the ‘Homestart’ charity for isolated young mums, and latterly Cancer Research UK
and the Royal Marsden Hospital. Surrey Harmony Chorus continues to raise money for many
charities through its performances in Surrey and the South East.

She leaves her husband, retired GP Dr. Tim Lawson, her artist and
journalist daughter, Debbie and musician son, Sandy.

Jenny’s funeral will be on Tuesday 23 April at 2.40pm at North East Surrey Crematorium,
Lower Morden Lane, Morden SM4 4NU, followed by a celebration of her life.

Floral tributes will be accepted by
WA Truelove- Funeral Directors 
31, High Street 
Up until 12.30 on 23rd April.
Monetary contributions to St Raphael’s Hospice, Sutton or Marie Curie Cancer Care in memory of
Jenny Lawson are welcomed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *