Sweet Music for the Heart

By Sandra Zunino

While flowers and candy make nice traditional Valentine’s Day presents, if you really want to give a unique gift to your sweetheart, consider a Singing Valentine from the Pride of the Bay Chorus.

Since it began, the Singing Valentine program has grown increasingly popular. This is the fifth year singers from the Pride of the Bay will participate in the fundraising activity.

Making a formal presentation, four singers arrive at their destination decked out in tuxedos. Recipients are handed a red rose and a card and are delivered two songs in typical barbershop quartet style. “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Heart of My Heart” are characteristic favorites.

The price of a Singing Valentine runs about $40, depending on the time and location, but the memory is priceless with a favorable response from not only the recipient but also spectators, as the harmonious melodies tend to draw a crowd.

“It’s the most fun activity for us,” says Jack Walsh, coordinator of the Pride of the Bay Valentine program. “We really enjoy seeing the response we get from the songs.”

“Last year, a wife ordered a Valentine for her construction manager husband on Kent Island,” Jack recalls. “When we began singing to him at the work site, laborers surrounded their boss, lit cigarette lighters, waving them in the air, making it a concert celebration and light-hearted moment all in one,” he says.

Other times, the engagements are charged with emotion for both the recipient and the singers. Three years ago, one of the quartets went to the home of a teacher on medical leave for cancer. “The request came from her class,” says Jack. “There was not a dry eye in the home and the men wondered how they got through each song.”

Planning the logistics for the day is a challenge with only two quartets to cover bookings in both Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. “We try to book appointments close in time and proximity,” say Jack, “but we wind up bouncing around quite a bit.”

The quartets also make a few pro-bono appearances, delivering singing Valentines to the staff at Queen Anne’s Hospice one year and The Judy Center another. “We do this to thank benefactors who have supported us throughout the year and also to provide entertainment for local organizations that benefit the community,” he says.

As members of the Barbershop Harmony Society, the Pride of the Bay Chorus Singing Valentines are part of a nationwide program. Through www.singingvalentines.com, a free service of the Society for use by its chapters, quartets and other barbershop groups, arrangements can be made to send a Singing Valentine to almost anyone in North America. SingingValentines.com does not take orders directly. Instead, it offers free referrals to groups that take orders in their own markets in their own ways.

As Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, the quartets are prepared to book engagements for Friday so recipients can receive their gift in the workplace With bookings running an average of 15 minutes each, and travel time quickly filling up the days, it is wise to book an appointment as soon as possible by calling 443-262-9449
or 443-249-3303.

Proceeds from the singing Valentines benefit The Pride of the Bay Chorus. For more information on Pride of the Bay Chorus memberships or upcoming shows, visit www.prideofthebay.com. To schedule a Singing Valentine for someone out of the state visit, www.singingvalentines.com.