Messages of love delivered in song

True romantics can take heart if they're stumped on what to do for their loved one this Valentine's Day.

Partners in Harmony has the answer - a singing Valentine.

Barbershop quartet members Bob Wise, 78, Chuck Abercrombie, 60, Gil Graham, 65, and Tom Hammill, 65, are members of Chorus of the Comstock, the local chapter of the Society for Preservation and Encouragement for Barbershop Quartet Singing in America.

It's a mouthful, but the dashing and snappily dressed gentlemen have the harmonic voices to back it up.

The men sing two songs from a standard package of love songs, bring a red rose, chocolate candy and personalized Valentine's Day card for the recipient. Hammill said they have a pretty good mix of male and female customers.

"The women like to embarrass the guys at work," said Graham, who sings lead, or melody.

Abercrombie, who sings baritone, said at one singing valentine a couple of years ago, the man concluded their performance with a marriage proposal to his date. She accepted.

"It's hard to sing a love song to another guy," Graham admitted. "But you do what you gotta do."

The cost of the singing valentine is $25. Graham said they keep the price reasonable so younger couples can afford to take advantage of the gift.

"Besides that, it's fun," said Wise, who sings tenor.

In addition to Partners in Harmony in Carson City, a second quartet will be performing singing valentines in Gardnerville and Minden. And they've added a day to accommodate more customers. Singing Valentines can be scheduled for Feb. 13 or 14.

"We've got one woman who has booked us for years to sing to her husband," Abercrombie said. "And every year she cries."

Love songs from one heart to another are romantic and many times, the person initiating the call will arrive about the same time as the quartet to video-record or photograph their partner being serenaded.

"When we schedule, we try to be right on time," Graham said. "Sometimes we have to hang out in the car or around the corner from the business."

Quartet member Virgil Millard died last year on Feb. 19. The current quartet remembers him fondly.

"He was a neat guy," Graham said. "He had a brain bleed, like an aneurysm."

"Last year, we went to sing a couple of songs to Lois, his wife," Hammill said. "They had brought Virgil home from the VA center in Reno and he was in a hospital bed in their home.

"Well, I got about three lines into the song and got vapor lock. None of us could finish. We sure miss him."

Abercrombie has been with Chorus of the Comstock off and on since 1965. Wise has been in since 1959 and says he's still learning Graham has been in about 20 years, and Hammill, who sings bass, is the "rookie" of the group at seven years.

"We can always use more men to join the chorus," Abercrombie said. "Any guy who wants to sing can join. You don't have to be a musician and you don't have to audition."

The Chorus of the Comstock rehearses at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at First Baptist Church in Carson City, at the corner of Mountain and Bath streets.

The singing valentines are a fund-raiser for the group to support activities throughout the year. They also perform for anniversaries, birthdays and special events.

Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.


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