Looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift? Send men in hats

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cape fear chordsmen
The Cape Fear Chordsmen will bring their “singing valentine” to your loved one, with proceeds going to charity. (Courtesy of Richard Millard)

WILMINGTON — The Cape Fear Chordsmen are hitting the streets to bring old-school barbershop serenades to the greater Wilmington area.

The Chordsmen, a charitable nonprofit, is the Wilmington chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. The group offers its “singing valentine” service as one of three major annual fundraising drives.

Board member Richard Millard, who directs the annual Valentine’s Day drive, said many of the group’s more than 60 members participate. Members form quartets who will deliver four-part holiday harmonies anywhere within 25 miles of Wilmington.

The cost of sending a barbershop Valentine goes toward the Chordsmen’s support of Alzheimer’s North Carolina Inc., a statewide agency that assists patients, their families and healthcare professionals dealing with the disease.

chordsmenAnd what, exactly, is a singing valentine? Chordsmen member Charlie Privett gave Port City Daily what he called the “nickel’s worth” explanation.

“Well, you give us a call and schedule a time, then we do the rest,” Privett said. “A quartet heads out to your loved one, it could be a guy or a gal, but usually it’s a lady. We give them a rose, a card from you – you can pick what it says and sign it and all that – and then we sing for them. We do two songs from our repertoire. These are in the classic barbershop style, and we do dress to the nines, so it’s really something to see. And hear.

“By the end of it,” he added, your valentine is usually pretty embarrassed, cheeks all red. But you know, in a good way. People seem to like it.”

Millard and his family produced a video giving an idea of “what it’s like to receive one of these special valentines.” Millard’s daughter-in-law Casey Scharling and granddaughter Pearl Millard appear in this video, with the performances of the Duffy’s Tavern Quartet. The Quarter features Chordsmen members Millard (tenor), Jim Boyd (lead), Courtney Talbot (bass) and Doug Wick (baritone).

The Cape Fear Chordsmen website allows you to schedule delivery of a valentine inside a one-hour window for $50, or inside a 30-minute window for $70. The website also has information on the group’s upcoming events, including Assisted Living Sing Outs, where quartets from the group perform at senior centers around the Cape Fear area.

The Cape Fear Chordsmen can also be reached by phone at (910) 541-1256,