Brent Anderson with his barbershop quartet (L to R) Kevin Cunningham (tenor), Chris Freeze lead (melody) Tobias Brown-Heft (baritone). (Jan. 28, 2015
Paul Wellman

Brent Anderson leads a double life. By day, the jolly man is a partner at Anderson Financial Solutions & Insurance Services, but he also proudly performs as part of a barbershop harmony quartet called the Pacific Sound Chorus.

Once a year, almost all nonprofit barbershop harmony chapters in the country perform “Singing Valentines,” in which they surprise your loved one on Valentine’s Day with a very special performance. The expected donation for this annual fundraiser is $50 per performance.  

Brent’s chorus, which can be booked by calling 800-353-1632, will deliver “Singing Valentines” from Thousand Oaks to Goleta, and there is also another group serving Santa Barbara called the Channel City Chorus, which can be reached at 805-962-5876.

This busy man took time to answer the Proust Questionnaire.

When did your interest in barbershop quartet singing start?

I have always been a singer, but after college at UCSB didn’t have a good musical outlet.  I tried singing in church but I missed the applause! I’m not a gifted solo singer but have a good ear for harmony. I discovered barbershop harmony in 1975 and it’s a huge worldwide group of very wonderful people, and the music, and performance of that music, is very satisfying.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Probably my smile and positive attitude.

What do you like most about your job?

My “real job” is in financial services. For almost 45 years, I have been helping clients with life and health insurance and retirement planning. 

I started out selling life insurance to young families, moved into the health insurance market helping businesses with their employee benefit plans and executive benefit plans, and, now, as my brethren, the aging baby boomers, reach retirement age, there is a new set of problems. Most recently I have been helping people with transition planning — transitioning from their work life to retired life and dealing with the complex issues of Social Security, Medicare planning, and making their money last a lifetime. 

What I have always liked most about my job is helping people. I still meet new people, but most of my clients are old friends and every day I get to work with those old friends and share what I know to make their financial lives a little less stressful. What is also great is to be in charge of my own time, so I can mix in time to sing with my various musical groups, and every February take a day off to deliver Singing Valentines.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Tough question, so many things make me happy. I love my big family (wife and 10 grandkids and two great grandkids) and carefree social time with them is always wonderful. I love singing, performing, telling jokes, listening to vocal harmony, and making people smile. I love my work! I love being with people and being of help to people.  

I long ago discovered I am a recognition-driven individual and when I’m helping my family, helping my clients, when I’m singing, performing, speaking, I feel happiest. The smiles, the thanks, the applause, the income I make — they’re all ways of hearing “I love you” and when I’m loved, I’m very happy. I’m pretty happy when I get the chance to do any of these things!

What is your greatest fear? 

I really don’t have any fears. Sure, I can conjure up a lot of bad things that might happen, but my life has proven to me that sometimes when bad things have happened, it’s been my greatest opportunity to learn.

Who do you most admire and why? 

I have many heroes, and most of them are not famous. My wife, Sue, is one of my heroes. So much of what I have and value in life is because of her 30-plus year partnership with me.

What is your greatest extravagance? 

I really don’t have any. I’m not cheap and I have a lot of “stuff,” but there’s nothing I can think of in my life that I call “extravagant.” 

What is your current state of mind?

Very optimistic, happy, and excited about the future; both my future and for the world. I realize the world has many problems and I am confident the human race can solve them. 

What is the quality you most like in people?

Enthusiastic, positive, humorous, curious people attract me.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

Negativity and people who have “victim conversations.” 

What do you most value in friends?

Kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and an appreciation of “the whole me,” warts and all….

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Indecision is the key to flexibility.”  (That’s a joke!)

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I could play the piano.  Now, that’s funny because my talented daughter, Courtney, is a piano teacher, but I don’t have the time. I just wish I could play the piano.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My propensity to gain weight.  I love to socialize, and eating and drinking are a part of that equation. I’m sure some of it is genetics, but a lot of it is me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being a father and provider for my wife and family, and also having over 2,000 clients.

Where would you most like to live?

Santa Barbara. My wife once asked me, as our kids were moving out and settling in cities other than Santa Barbara, “Where shall we live when we retire?” I looked at her like she’d just grown a third eye!

What is your most treasured possession?

Corny answer: my wife and kids. I also treasure my voice and ability to sing. Vocal music has had an incredibly positive influence on my life. I’ll be sad when I can no longer sing with quality, but if that happens, it’s been a great ride.

Who makes you laugh the most?

I like Mel Brooks. I still laugh out loud at his movies.

What is your motto?

“To try and to fail — that’s life. But to fail to try is to suffer the immeasurable loss of what might have been.” 

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I like Harry Truman as I think he was the last “unprofessional” politician we had. He said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

On what occasion do you lie?

About my weight on my driver’s license.


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