Stu Leck has been singing in quartets for decades, and for the past 30 years he has spent the time around Valentine’s Day doing the same thing, whether in Minneapolis or Duluth or Sun City.
Leck and his quartet sing love songs to sweethearts young and old.
“It’s instant satisfaction,” he said. “Usually, when you perform the audience is 50 to 100 feet away. While there is excitement and pleasure in that, there is something special about these Valentine performances. The people you are singing to are maybe 5 feet away, and the reaction you get is just so special.”
Leck leads a quartet called the Yukka Flats.
“We’re all older men, and we have no great conceit over our skill,” he said. “Though I do believe we sing on key, we also like to make people laugh.”
In all, four quartets from the Desert Aires Barbershop Chorus in Sun City spent the weekend and this morning making appearances, often surprise appearances, at parties, offices and everything in between.
Leck said he and his fellow singers are happy to do it. The reaction of the audience, he said, makes it special.
“There are always smiles and quite often there are tears,” he said. “We have a variety of customers. Sometimes we’ll sing for an elderly couple that has been married 55 years. And sometimes we’ll head from that performance to an office building, singing for a girl as a Valentine from her boyfriend. And of course she’s embarrassed and thrilled by it. Some people call us from across the country to have a Valentine sung for their elderly mothers.”
Joan Nahass, who along with her husband, Hank, coordinated this year’s performances, said she has heard about many memorable performances over the years.
“Not long ago there was one at Sky Harbor,” she said. “The man was on a plane and used the PA system to propose to his girlfriend. She said yes and when they departed their plane, our quartet was at the gate to sing for them.”
She said a card is included as part of the service and the customer can personalize it if they wish.
“There was one man who had written a three-verse poem he recited for me to put on the card,” she said. “And he ended up calling me back three separate times to change the lyrics.”
Still, she said, the effort is all worthwhile.
“I remember one time, the fellas had a hard time singing,” she said. “A man had hired us as a surprise for his wife and she was so surprised and so emotional she started crying. It was all the boys could do to keep from crying themselves.”
Leck said the Yukka Flats were scheduled for three performances today, though he added his wife does not mind.
“We practice over here at my house, so she’s kind of tired of hearing us,” he said. “The best gift I can give my wife is not to sing.”
Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.