Lifestyle

Perfect Harmony

A rose is just a rose, but when it is accompanied by “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” sung in perfect four-part harmony, it becomes something more.

This Valentine’s Day, quartets from the Federal Way Harmony Kings, a local barbershop chorus, will be delivering those roses as they fan out all over the South Sound region, including downtown Seattle, Renton, Kent, Auburn and Federal Way. They’ll be elegantly dressed and ready to pitch musical woo.

Harmony King Ron Walker, who is organizing this V Day blitz, said last week the Kings have already booked 45 customers and are shooting for 140. “Our president, Jim Burbidge, is part of one of our most popular quartets, ‘The Country Squires,’ ” Walker said. Burbidge, whose wife Jeanne is the mayor of the City of Federal Way, “knows a lot of people in politics. His group has a special engagement singing for some folks down in the Legislature in Olympia.”

The repertoire includes traditional favorites such as “The Story of A Rose,” or “Heart of My Heart” and the aforementioned “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

“We have many songs to draw from, and we can sing whatever romantic ballad is called for,” Walker said.

The Harmony Kings, which numbers 60-70 members, usually performs as a chorus, as it will in the spring. Their big event, “Our Show of Shows,” is set for May 17 at the Auburn Performing Arts Center.

Although tomorrow’s performances will be romantic in nature, the group cut its teeth on performances of patriotic music.

Walker says there has been an upsurge in requests for “God Bless America,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “Proud o be an American” after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

“We’ve performed for all sorts of civic and governmental groups,” he said. Right after Sept. 11 the Kings sang for the Federal Way City Council and the King County Correction Officers at their annual awards ceremony.

“Both were very emotional concerts,” Walker said. “The songs really get into everyone’s soul. It makes it easier to sing, when you get that strong reaction from the audience.”

Tomorrow, however, will be dedicated to the ones others love.

The quartets will arrive at restaurants, offices and homes, dressed in tuxedos, Walker said. “They’ll sing two love songs, present a rose and a card signed by the sender.

“The reaction, from past experience, can be varied in intensity, but it’s always favorable.”

The Federal Way Harmony Kings still have openings for Valentine’s Day musical missives.

Call the Harmony Kings at (253) 569-9348, or send e-mails to hkvalentine2002@yahoo.com.

A Valentine’s Day History

The history of Valentine’s Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.

—TheHistoryChannel.com

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