Not only does a singing valentine do the recipient good, it also warms the hearts of the people who are performing it.
The Golden Valley Chorus of the Barbershop Harmony Society will be offering “Valengrams” Friday and Saturday in the Merced and Modesto areas. For $40, quartets will be singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” or “Heart of My Heart” – both traditional valentine songs.
Howard Barber, 79, of Merced has been singing barbershop harmony for 46 years; he’s the associate director of the “Four Tune Hunters” quartet, which will deliver the a cappella messages from about 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Merced, Atwater and Winton areas. Two other quartets are singing valentine songs in the Modesto, Oakdale and Riverbank areas.
“It’s (singing) fulfilling and fun,” Barber, a tenor, said. “We get teary-eyed from the reaction we get from people.”
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Greg Kramp, 69, of Atwater has been singing baritone since he was 14 years old. He is especially moved when he sees an elderly couple that has been married for 50 to 60 years start sobbing when they hear a singing valentine message.
Barber, Kramp, Roy Anderson of Atwater and Terrell Chambers of Merced have been delivering the singing valentines since 2005; they typically will perform 20 to 30 times during the two days.
“It’s usually a very emotional moment,” Barber said. “Only once has someone been really angry.”
The recipients’ reaction depends on their age and perhaps their location. The quartet has performed valentine songs at rest homes, dental and doctor’s offices, restaurants, schools, UC Merced and private homes. They also have delivered their poignant love messages at Stanislaus and Merced county jails along with bars.
Chambers said the barbershop harmony hobby teaches good singing technique. And he enjoys being with his singing comrades. “It’s just a joy putting chords together,” Chambers said. “Why did I choose this? You can’t play golf at night.”
The $40 the quartet collects for each singing engagement goes to provide scholarships for Youth Harmony Camp each September in Pollock Pines. Barber said there is a youth movement attached to barbershop harmony, and young singers realize they can be a “chick magnet.”
“We’ve had screaming teenagers,” Chambers said. “The sound resonates with everybody. A cappella singing is so compelling.”
Anderson, 70, has been singing since 1977; at the end of the day, the experience is fun for all the quartet’s members. The nationwide barbershop society was formed in 1938.
“You know you’ve really touched someone,” Kramp said of the reaction their songs get.
Merced quartet members are attired in red vests with black vertical stripes, white shirts and red ties.
Those wanting a singing valentine in the Merced area may call 383-3808; in the Modesto area those interested may call 551-2314, Barber said. A digital photograph of the valentine song performance will be sent to the recipient.
Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.