Barry Allpress hadn't sung in 50 years before joining for the Summerset NZ Young@Heart Chorus.
He auditioned with Peter Dawson's classic from another era When the Sergeant Major's on Parade.
But now he finds himself belting out hits by LMFAO, Bruno Mars and Christina Aguilera.
It didn't take long for the training wheels to come off, even though he hadn't sung for five decades.
"I was quite worried about it to start with but all of a sudden it came together and I knew it.
"When I used to sing duets with my music teacher I was very concerned that I wouldn't be able to do it right. But as soon as the music started you knew exactly what you had to do."
He says his family has been supportive of his new endeavour and is helping him become familiar with today's music.
"I didn't know any of these songs when I joined and my daughters thought it was hilarious me singing them," he says.
But the 81-year-old soon found himself warming to the modern tunes.
"There are some nice songs in there."
The Papatoetoe resident is one of about 30 members of the over-70s chorus which is gearing up for its debut concert on September 15.
Musical director Christina Bevan says the group is challenging stereotypes of older people.
"The perception in New Zealand is that once you get to a certain age you kind of sit in a chair and knit.
"You aren't out there doing things, let alone getting up on a stage and performing to younger people music that is actually the younger person's choice."
Mrs Bevan was inspired to set up the group after the original American choir toured New Zealand in 2010.
Her Kiwi singers are a dedicated bunch, she says.
"I push them but they push me back - they have high expectations of themselves. Technically what they're singing is not always easy and so also one of the goals is to actually extend people vocally. Not just have them singing, but that they are always learning and extending themselves and improving their voices."
Mr Allpress was a keen singer when he was younger.
He performed duets with renowned Papatoetoe vocalist Alma Sims, was a life member of the Papatoetoe Light Opera Club and even recorded an LP.
The NZ Young@Heart Chorus is a registered charity and is sponsored by retirement village operator Summerset.
The group will perform two gigs accompanied by the band Traction at the Picton Centre in Howick on September 15 and at the Whangaparoa College Theatre on September 16.
Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for seniors, children and students and can be bought online at iticket.co.nz or by calling 361 1000.
- Manukau Courier
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