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Singers offer Valentine’s harmony

Music: Barbershop group offers Sweetheart Serenades to Santa Clarita Valley residents on Feb. 13-14

Posted: February 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The Men of Harmony barbershop quartet singers perform during the holidays. The group is offering Sweetheard Serenades on Feb. 13-14.

 


Men of Harmony, a club devoted to the art of barbershop quartet and four-part harmony singing, will again offer Sweetheart Serenades to residents of the Santa Clarita Valley for Valentine’s Day.

The Men of Harmony have been bringing beautiful music to the SCV for nearly 40 years and their annual Valentine’s Day fundraiser for more than 10 years.

“We were one of the first clubs to offer the singing valentines when the national barbershop quartet organization first suggested the idea,” said Dave Norman, last year’s president and a member of the Men of Harmony since 1971. “We’ve sung all over the Santa Clarita Valley throughout the years.”

Norman said the Men of Harmony bring a unique style to their singing valentines.

“Other groups offer singing valentines, but we have four gentlemen wearing straw hats, bow ties, vests and singing in the unique barbershop style,” he said. “When you sing, you are singing to represent the voice of the sender. I’ve seen men tear up when we start singing ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart.’ These are songs from the heart.”

The group offers two levels of singing valentines to be delivered on Feb. 13 or Feb. 14. The $45 package will deliver your singing valentine anywhere in the SCV between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. A time cannot be guaranteed but is usually within two hours of the requested time.

The $55 package will deliver your singing valentine within 15 minutes of your target time.

Each package includes a flower gift to the recipient.

“We’ve delivered to school yards, dentist offices, everywhere,” Norman said. “It’s so much fun to see children gather around as we deliver a singing valentine. The youngsters really ‘get it.’ The seniors get it, too, because they remember when people used to sit home and gather around the piano.”

Norman said the Men of Harmony meet each Tuesday in the meeting room of a Newhall apartment complex.

The current roster of the Men of Harmony lists 15 members.

“Most of us are seniors — some retired, some still working,” Norman said. “We hardly know what each other does outside of the group; there’s not much time for talking. Our meetings are almost all singing, and we learn something new almost every week.”

Norman said each barbershop quartet includes four members — bass, baritone, tenor and lead.

“The lead is like a second tenor, a low tenor — the lead always takes the melody,” he said.

Barbershop quartets sing a cappella style, without musical accompaniment.

“We’ve noticed that the television show ‘The Sing-Off’ (on Channel 4, NBC) — which features a cappella singing — is making this style of music popular again,” Norman said. “A cappella music is once again being heard and admired across the country, featuring the unaccompanied human voice.”

The Men of Harmony is a member of the national Barbershop Harmony Society, previously known as the Society for the
Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America Inc.

The Society claims there are more than 30,000 barbershop harmony singers in the United States and Canada.

Norman describes the SCV Men of Harmony group as “the undiscovered jewel of the SCV.”

“We laugh a lot and have fun together,” Norman said. “We don’t talk politics, religion or work — just what can we do to tune that chord to make it sound prettier. You hear those four voices, and they take on a life of their own.”

The Men of Harmony have a repertoire that spans numerous musical genres, including barbershop harmony, doo-wop, swing-era jazz, Tin Pan Alley musicals and classic pop tunes.

“We do a little bit of almost everything, except rap,” Norman said. “We even do Beatles and Beach Boys music.”

Among the most requested songs are “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “Lida Rose” and numbers like “Under the Boardwalk” and “Silhouettes.”

Norman is the longest serving member of the Men of Harmony and sang in the same quartet for 25 years.

“I was asked by Bill King to sing in a quartet, and it lasted for 25 years,” he said. “I thought it was only for one night.”

King recently moved to Ohio.

Norman said members of the Men of Harmony are very loyal to the group.

“When people join, they are members for life,” he said.

To order a singing valentine from the Men of Harmony for delivery on Feb. 13-14 call (661) 296-2292.

The Men of Harmony meet each Tuesday from 7:30 to 9:45 p.m. at the meeting room inside The Valley Oaks Village Apartments, 24700 Valley St., Newhall. Call (661) 259-6109 for security door information. The group is also looking for a new musical director.

For more information, visit www.scmenofharmony.com.

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