For an unforgettable gift that expresses "I love you," consider sending a singing valentine this year on Feb. 14. Sure you could mail a card or bring a heart-shaped box of candy to the love of your life, but are those unique enough to be remembered in years to come?
"You see four guys coming in tuxes carrying a rose and people are amazed," said John Morrison, lead singer for the Upside Downers quartet.
With a blend of voices, the barbershop quartet will come to a location of your choosing to serenade your valentine with two songs.
During the past five years, the professional foursome has sung at homes, offices, schools, police stations, grocery stores and even from center court at a basketball game. An elderly couple in hospice, who received the gift of music from a niece in California, held hands as the group sang.
"Once we were singing in downtown Elmhurst at a restaurant when a patron came up to us and asked if we could sing for his wife right away," said Morrison, a Downers Grove resident. "He had forgotten it was Valentines Day."
"Weve had some men who hear us and remember its Valentines Day and then wed see them making a call to order flowers," said John Oberlin, the groups baritone.
Other members of the Upside Downers are Mark Johnson as bass and Bruce Rhoades as tenor.
The group always sings a number of times at Molex Inc., where Oberlin works in human resources. The Lisle-based international headquarters is a leading supplier of connectivity components, which seems apropos for the connection with a loved one that singing valentines are all about.
"We will start singing to a small group (at Molex) and all of a sudden heads start popping up from all of the nearby cubicles and then we are singing to a group," said Oberlin with a laugh.
Singing valentines are a fundraiser for the [URL]Chorus of DuPage;http://harmonize.com/dupage/[/URL], a nonprofit mens barbershop chorus that meets weekly in Naperville. The chorus has four quartets available for singing valentines. The groups will travel across DuPage County and into nearby areas to deliver unforgettable valentine experiences. Requests outside the area will be forwarded to other quartets across the city and country.
Dressed in tuxedos complete with red bow ties and matching cummerbunds, the Upside Downers sing valentine sentiments along with giving the recipient a long-stem red rose and a card. A basic singing valentine costs $40, but for a specific 2- to 4-hour window the price is $50.
"About five years ago we had a request from a soldier in Iraq that called long distance to have a song and rose go to his wife," Oberlin said. "Needless to say, we did that one at no cost and a number of other quartets picked up on it also. So his wife was visited by a number of quartets during the day all at no cost. …