MIAMI COUNTY — If a few strangers come to your door this week professing their love for you in song, just roll with it.
Those men will likely be a barbershop quartet, also known as the “Singing Valentine’s,” and they were hired by your loved one to help celebrate love’s favorite holiday.
The Miami-Shelby Melody Men’s Chorus has been offering the Singing Valentines for upward of 20 years. For $35, a barbershop quartet will go to your loved one’s location, sing two love songs, give a rose or a box of candy and a special Valentine’s Day card on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, according to member Ron Ventura. The visit can be arranged by calling him at (937) 606-2428.
“We go everywhere. We’ve been in factories, offices, hospitals, every place,” said Ventura, who has been a member of the chorus for 25 years. “We also go right to homes.”
Responses to the love-laden visits are different at each location, he said.
“Some people laugh, some cry. Some say they’ll get even with the purchaser,” Ventura said, laughing.
He said in the more than two decades of the Singing Valentine’s, he can’t remember a year when they haven’t come through with the fundraiser. Some years he said have been close, however, with quartets traveling through the county in near-blizzard-like conditions to offer their heartfelt crooning.
The Melody Men Chorus, currently under the direction of Bob Moore, consists of men from all walks of life who share a common love for singing male a cappella music. The organization first came together in the 1950s at Mote Park in Piqua, Ventura said. Don Heffner, a charter member of the group, still performs with the group.
The Melody Men currently boast a membership of about 33 members, ranging in age from 16 to 89, according to Ventura. The younger men in the group learn from the more experienced members, Ventura said.
“The guys show them a lot, they learn from our experience,” said Ventura, who is retired from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.
The Melody Men Chorus, or sometimes quartets from the chorus, perform during the year throughout the county at churches, the Miami County Fair and other events, Ventura said. During the summer, he said they might perform at as many as four churches on one Sunday morning.
The Melody Men Chorus has an annual show in the spring at Grace United Methodist Church in Piqua. This year’s show, “Let There Be Music,” is scheduled for April 28, with a guest quartet, The Cores, and the Troy High School a cappella group the Troy Tones.
The Melody Men rehearse every Tuesday evening from 7-9 p.m. in the basement of Greene Street Methodist Church, 415 W. Greene St., Piqua, and invite prospective members to stop in to a practice session.
“It’s a fun thing. You look forward to chorus practice. You almost build your life around it. It’s real enjoyable,” he said, noting that Melody Men groups are now leaning toward more modern songs.
Members do not have to have experience at singing; the group will work with the individual, Ventura said. Reading music also is something that can be taught through membership, he said.
“You just have to have the desire to sing,” Ventura said. “If you’re not a perfect singer, we’d still like to have you, we’ll make you a good singer.”