TRAVERSE CITY — It’s an uncommon — and extravagant — gift, the spirit of which can be contagious.
“People are often nervous about purchasing something like this because they’re not sure what the message is that will be received,” Roger Racine said. “But in the end, never yet have I seen somebody receive a singing valentine and regret it.
“Often, we get people from the audience immediately asking if they can sent us to another group and so (the quartets) will kind of branch throughout the day,” said Racine, a member of the Cherry Capital Men’s Chorus and the group’s singing valentine’s coordinator.
The Traverse City-based chorus is a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society and currently has about 30 members, group president Tom Beatty said. Established in 1966, the chorus began offering singing valentines more than 20 years ago, Beatty said, although he wasn’t sure of the exact date.
This year’s $55 package includes two love songs songs “sung by four practiced and well-dressed gentlemen,” a long-stemmed rose, personalized card and photo or video opportunity, Racine said.
The valentines will be delivered on Valentine’s Day by one of four quartets, he said.
Singing valentines can be sent to any loved one, not just a romantic partner, Racine said. They’re a way to show how much you care about a person, which is exactly what Valentine’s Day is an excuse to do, he said.
Valentine’s Day dates back to the fifth century, but its association with love wasn’t cemented until about 900 years later, according to History.com.
“We’ve sung to waiting rooms in the cardiac unit full of people that have, quote, broken hearts,” he said. “Some of the nurses told us later that was the best day ever in the office because all of their patents were happy instead of scared.”
Bob Gray, the bass singer in Northern Exposure — one of the quartets delivering valentines — said it’s a thrill to be able to surprise people with the entertainment.
The valentine usually is delivered in a more social environment like a workplace or luncheon, which gives the recipient a chance to be the center of attention, he said.
“Sometimes we’ll be fortunate enough to sing a song that really connects with the individual,” Gray said. “We’ve seen exhilaration and we’ve seen tears and we’ve seen just all kinds of emotions when we sing.”
It’s partly the entertainment value and partly the gift from a loved one that draws forth such emotions, Beatty said. Beatty sings tenor in the Facilities Four quartet, the four of whom work in Munson Medical Center’s facilities department.
“It’s a little bit extra, maybe, to show your loved one that you really care,” he said.