Coles County Barbershop to become “Singing Valentines”


Cassie Buchman, City Editor

This Valentine’s Day some sweethearts will be serenaded by the Coles County Barbershop Quartet’s “Singing Valentines for Hire.”

The Singing Valentines are groups from the Coles County Barbershop Quartet who will visit businesses and homes around Charleston to sing love songs to customers’ significant others.

The groups will sing three or four classic songs-per-customer, in barbershop style.

Sending a singing valentine costs $35. The recipient also receives a box of candy, a card, and a photo with the quartet.

Tom Woodall, from the Coles County Barbershop Quartet, said the money raised goes to area high school music programs.

Last year they raised $2,000, which was enough to give 10 schools $200 apiece.

The group also participates and helps the community by doing benefit concerts around Christmas and Easter for homeless shelters and food pantries.

“Singing is what we do.” Woodall said. “Music brings joy to people.”

Many of the Singing Valentines’ clients are men who call to have them sing for their wife, girlfriend, or someone who works at their office. They go either to their home or work site wearing their brightly colored barbershop vests.

He particularly remembers the time Singing Valentines sang to a couple that had been married for 60 years.

The Singing Valentines have sung for a variety of workplaces, including offices and even emergency rooms.

“We sang for a guy in an auto body shop once,” Woodall said. “He had grease all over him.”

The Singing Valentines often attract attention when they perform.

“We’ll sing in an office for a lady, and all the other ladies will come around, saying ‘I wish my husband had gotten this for me,’” Woodall said.

Woodall said they can never tell exactly how much they will make a year.

“Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year.” he said. “Lots of people don’t work on Saturday.”

On weekdays from past years, there were typically 20 or 30 people who hired the Singing Valentines on campus.

“This year there are no classes on the 13th.” Woodall said. “We lost out on the campus.”

Despite these setbacks, there are also new ways they are getting hired this year.

These ways include social media.

“A lot of our guys are tweeting, Facebooking.” Woodall said. “People get to know about (Singing Valentines) even though they don’t see it in the newspaper. There are other ways to learn about it now.”

Woodall said the best part of singing to people was the surprise on their faces, especially when they had “no clue” their significant other booked the Singing Valentines for them.

“They see four guys, (ask themselves) ‘Could this be a quartet?’” he said. “Especially when we’re dressed in old fashioned, wholesome clothes.”

People can order “Singing Valentines for Hire” by going on the Coles County Barbershop Quartet’s website.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].