Miley Cyrus and the Sweet Adelines

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the recent exposure of the Miley Cyrus incident on the MTV Music Video Awards show. But I was reminded about something that happened in my youth, so many years ago. In 1955, I was in the US Army and stationed in Korea. (That means I am a really old fellow.) A USO show came to our base, and like many others, I went to see the show. As I recall there were four main acts. One was a fellow who claimed that if he could pick an object up, he could juggle it. His audience became believers. He kept eight China plates spinning on top of slender wooden rods. He received well-deserved applause.

The second performers were a brother-sister tap dancing act from the Philippines. They were small of stature. The brother was dressed in a tux, and the sister was in an evening gown. They fairly flew across the stage with their feet barely touching the floor.

A third act was four scantily clad (for that time) ladies who were from the famous Radio City Rockettes. I remember being stunned by how muscular their legs were and the size of their thighs. Their high kicks brought the house down.

The fourth act was a female vocal quartette. They had won a national contest of the Sweet Adelines. The Sweet Adelines are ladies who are interested in singing traditional barbershop quartet music. They were dressed in identical cotton dresses that could well have been worn by any homemaker in America. They sang a couple of songs and then were kept on stage for an encore. The guys in the audience whooped and hollered. They stamped their feet and whistled their approval and appreciation.

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SweetAdelinesAt the end of the show, the audience stood and applauded as the four performance groups came out for bows. There were calls of “encore” from every corner of the theater. The dancing girls assumed the fellows wanted to see their high kicks again, so they stayed on stage while the other three groups exited the stage. The music for their encore dance number was brought up, but the fellows in the audience immediately began booing, and the chant “Sweet Adelines” could be heard all across the theater.

The dancing girls, obviously chagrinned, made a hasty retreat and were replaced on stage by the four ladies in their cotton frocks, singing down-home quartette music. It was an amazing afternoon. While the dancing girls were much appreciated, what the boys in the audience really wanted was a touch of home. The quartette of Sweet Adelines could have been our mothers or aunts, a neighbor lady, or our third grade teachers. Those were the women we were homesick for.

Miley Cyrus is certainly a pretty girl, but she, and a lot of others like her, should remember that beauty like most of life is fleeting and superficial. Decency is deep and enduring.


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Harry Livermore

Harry Livermore spent a lifetime teaching English in high schools and junior colleges in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Georgia. He now writes for and is editor of the Valdosta Magazine. Harry and his wife Janice live in Valdosta, GA. They are members of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Valdosta. Harry has two sons, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren who live in Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas.

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