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Arts & Music

Send a singing valentine in Tampa

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 08:52 PM

Roxanne Clapp remembers a special Valentine's Day when her husband, Larry, showed-up with a barber shop quartet to serenade her.

"It was a complete surprise. I didn't even have the house clean," says Clapp, a graphic designer who works out of her home in Wesley Chapel. "It was very sweet," she says. "They sang 'Heart of My Heart,' and I blushed and choked-up."

Clapp was serenaded again at a recent Heralds of Harmony rehearsal in Tampa.

Dianne Roberts, whose husband, Dave, is a member of the men's chorus, says she'll never forget when a quartet sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" at her wedding.

"It's something special. It gets you right here," says Roberts, holding her hand over her heart.

Those two vintage songs will be performed dozens of times all over the Tampa-St. Petersburg area on Feb. 14 when dozens of quartets will be dispatched to deliver singing valentines.

"We've been doing it as far back as I can remember, at least more than 25 years," says Steve Stenzler, who is in charge of booking Heralds of Harmony members on Valentine's Day.

"We'll start in the morning and work through until night," says Stenzler. "So far, our first is scheduled for 8 a.m. We average about 60 each year, but it has been higher some years."

The person being serenaded receives a Valentine's Day coffee mug and card.

The Heralds of Harmony is an award-wining, all volunteer, non-profit men's a capella chorus that has been performing barbershop style harmony since the 1940s.

In addition to the annual singing valentines, members of the chorus perform at weddings, birthday parties and other events as well performing in stage shows and international, national and regional competitions. The group has about 60 members.

An all-female counterpart, the award-winning Toast of Tampa Show Chorus (a branch of The Sweet Adalines), also delivers singing valentines on Feb. 14.

The women's chorus offers four options: singing valentines by telephone ($10); an audio recorded performance by email ($10); a video performance by email ($20); and a live quartet with a card, chocolates and a digital photo ($50).

Beth Curts, of the Toast of Tampa, says this year's valentine songs are "It Had to be You" and "The Way You Look Tonight."

"We will have about a dozen quartets delivering songs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," she says. "It's one of our favorite times of year. People are either thrilled or embarrassed to get one."

Among the places the ladies have booked for Valentine's Day is a wedding for 14 couples planned for 10 a.m. Thursday in Woodmont Park in Temple Terrace, conducted by Sobeida LeBlanc, of the Temple Terrace City Clerk's office.

The Heralds of Harmony also charges $50 per Valentine's Day performance, with a share of proceeds going to Metropolitan Ministries.

"On Valentine's Day, we go out to homes, offices, restaurants — just about anywhere," says Stenzler who recalls trying to track down a woman's boyfriend who was arriving at Tampa International Airport.

"She wanted us to give him a singing welcome. It was the last booking of the day, for about 9 p.m., but we had trouble finding him," Stenzler says. "We caught up with him at baggage claim which is the strangest place that I've ever delivered one."

To book a male quartet call (813) 254-9115 or email: contact@heraldsofharmony.org

To book a female quartet call (813) 963-7464 or go to www.toastoftampa.org/hire/singing-telegrams.html