Singing bankers aim to break stereotypes

Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2005

JUNEAU — Maybe Roger White doesn’t look like someone who would be talking about his ‘‘gigs.’’

‘‘I’m not ready to give up my day job,’’ said the white-haired, 54-year-old senior vice president and chief financial officer for Alaska Pacific Bank. But it’s ‘‘really cool,’’ he said, that the a cappella group he sings with is getting more attention.

The Bank Notes are mostly Alaska Pacific officers in Juneau.

‘‘We really enjoy breaking stereotypes about bankers,’’ said Lisa Corrigan, mezzo-soprano and Alaska Pacific executive vice president and chief operating officer.

‘‘We’re all very passionate about our singing,’’ she said.

It started as four friends from the bank six years ago, looking to go caroling at the holidays, Corrigan explained. They sang at a Christmas party, but they didn’t go door to door.

Now the six regular members also include bank controller Cheryl Crawford and her husband, Brett Crawford; Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer John Robertson; and Scarlett Adam, Alaska Pacific assistant vice president and downtown office manager.

‘‘I bring the pitch pipe,’’ said Brett Crawford, the tenor. His wife and Adam pointed out that he is the designated whistler.

Corrigan’s husband, Rick Nelson, is a backup singer who steps in if needed. ‘‘You have to be a banker or a spouse,’’ Corrigan said. ‘‘We’ve never had to cancel an appearance.’’

‘‘I think we’ve surprised a lot of people,’’ Brett Crawford said.

White said his son, Jason, suggested the name, and he suggested it to the group. ‘‘Everyone seemed to like it. It just fit.’’

‘‘The idea of the Bank Notes was just to have fun,’’ said Robertson, who sings bass. ‘‘It’s just a neat group to hang out with.’’

He was in banking for more than 20 years before he came to Juneau.

He doesn’t consider the bank an intimidating place, but he said he does make decisions on applications for credit. ‘‘And I say no to people when it’s appropriate.’’

Customers have seemed to enjoy the couple of occasions when the group has sung holiday songs at the Nugget Mall branch, Corrigan said. ‘‘It’s fun to surprise people.

‘‘Any time I open my mouth to sing and people don’t throw fruit, I chalk it up as a success,’’ said Adam, a soprano.

Twice they have sung for inmates at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center. ‘‘They were very receptive,’’ Robertson said.

The group also has performed twice at Christmas parties for people in the governor’s office. They are scheduled to sing at Juneau’s Public Market later this month.

This year, the Bank Notes have been performing at non-holiday events, beginning with Corrigan’s wedding in January.

This year there was an ice cream social to raise money for Southeast Senior Services.

They sang at Juneau Rotary meeting in October, and for the first time with microphones at the downtown Concert in the Park in June.

‘‘We can sing anywhere,’’ Robertson said.

What they sing varies because the members have different musical tastes. Corrigan said even with their Christmas songs they work on jazzier arrangements than most carolers will sing. Members said they like their arrangements of ‘‘Carol of the Bells’’ and the ‘‘Let It Snow.’’

‘‘Jeremiah was a bullfrog,’’ Cheryl Crawford said, quoting the pop lyrics from the 1970s Three Dog Night song ‘‘Joy to the World.’’

Robertson doesn’t look like someone whose taste in music would run toward disco star Donna Summer, Adam said. ‘‘John loves Donna Summer.’’

But Adam said she never heard ‘‘Blackbird’’ from the Beatles’ White Album before the group began working on its arrangement.

‘‘I don’t see myself as a Beatle,’’ she said. She described herself and Corrigan as more Doris Day and Julie Andrews.

‘‘I never heard even of the Grateful Dead until I was 23,’’ said Adam, who was born and raised in Juneau.

‘‘Rock ’n’ roll has always been my favorite thing,’’ White said. He enjoyed being featured in an arrangement of Otis Redding’s ‘‘The Dock of the Bay.’’

‘‘Juneau gives you a lot more opportunities (for public singing) than a lot of bigger places would,’’ Cheryl Crawford said.

Robertson said most of the members of the group also are involved in other singing ventures. He sang in this year’s Juneau Lyric Opera production of ‘‘Barber of Seville.’’ Robertson, Corrigan and the Crawfords will be singing with a new group, the Juneau Lyric Opera Vocal Ensemble, Sunday and Tuesday.

Adam said it’s a fun group she likes to be around.

‘‘It’s not like we’re going to record a CD,’’ Brett Crawford said, prompting Adam to say he shouldn’t be so sure.

‘‘Well, not tomorrow,’’ Crawford added.


Information from: Juneau Empire,

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