Q&A: Ken Hansen, barbershop quartet member and publicist, Smokyland Sound Chorus Singing Valentines

Is it too late to buy a singing Valentine?

No, we’re taking reservations right through Feb. 13, and we have five quartets.

You’re in a quartet yourself?

Yes, Just For Show. I sing bass and we’ve been together about two years now.

How does one name a Barbershop Quartet?

Through arguments and final decisions.

Does anyone ever change the name and keep the same members?

Not usually. If you don’t form a new group, the name holds. It has to be registered with the Barbershop Harmony Society, which used to be called the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. It was founded in 1938 to make sure barbershop harmony singing did not die, but all these years later our singing fits right in with the a capella singing movement, for example, on Glee and that show that pits one group against the other—The Sing Off.

How long have you been singing barbershop harmony?

I joined in ’92 in Michigan, then retired here 15 years ago. Before I moved I called the Knoxville chapter and asked if any singers were real estate agents. There was one, Jack Henley, and he found us a house. He is no longer living, but he was in the famous quartet the Dignitaries.

Do any women sing with you?

No, it’s strictly a male organization. Women have Sweet Adelines.

Even if she could sing bass, no?

A woman’d be more apt to be able to sing lead or tenor, but it’s not done.

What’s the Nursing Home Blitz about?

That’s something free, on Feb. 12—we’re doing a couple of songs and giving Valentines at six nursing homes, starting with the Ben Atchley State Veterans home.

To reserve a singing Valentine for $45-$60, call 573-9381; to recommend a free singing Valentine for wives of area servicemen serving overseas, call 470-8622.

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