Francis Schmutzler, Director of the Women in Black chorus. Photo: private

An unexpected affair …


When Francis Schmutzler decided to attend a Women in Black rehearsal in 2013, she had no idea she was about to find a passion for a lifetime: Barbershop. It was love at first sing!

A professional musician, Francis’s charm and fine ear for pitch have led the Women in Black on past the loss of their founding director Steve Hepner in October 2017. Before taking over, she had accompanied the musical development of the chorus for several years as assistant director.






Melissa Wiltzius, Assistant Director of the Women in Black chorus. Photo: private

Born into Barbershop


Melissa Wiltzius’s love for barbershop is inherited: Her father was a passionate barbershop singer who passed on his interest and skills to his daughter in the cradle.

Over the course of her life, Melissa’s path kept bringing her back to barbershop, but with Women in Black she has been able to develop and express her passion for the genre. Her enthusiasm and sense of rhythm are an inspiration for the chorus, which has been rising to her challenging standards since she began sharing conducting duties in XXX.


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