John Shelton Sings Valentine Wishes

The Singing Valentine Barbershop Quartet will let you love know she's "Sweet and Lovely"

When a quartet from the Smokyland Sound Barbershop Chorus delivers a Valentine, do you wear the straw boaters and striped shirts?

What we wear are red vests and bow ties and basically a white shirt and black pants.

And you'll deliver them any time on Valentine's Day?

Yes, and the day before—Friday the 13th. A lot are done for people who are at their worksite. We really do love to give those. You'd be surprised how many are for men. They love them, but boy do they get embarrassed.

How did you get started with barbershop quartets?

I started in 1961 when I was at Alcoa High School and my high school chorus director, Gil Oxendine, was a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society. He is still a member of the longest-running barbershop quartet in the world.

Have you ever sung in a barbershop?

Yes, we have, when we were delivering a singing valentine two years ago.

How do you sound singing on your own?

Well enough to sing with three other guys.

What part of the harmony do you sing?

Baritone. We sort of fill in the rest of the sound from the other three.

What songs are requested most often?

We do one of three songs: "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," "Part of My Heart," and "Sweet and Lovely."

What do you do with the money you make?

We're a non-profit, and the money defrays our expenses for the year, including our director.

Have you ever sung to someone who doesn't want romantic attention from the sender?

Yes, we have. We've had people to say, "I don't want a singing Valentine from that person." We say, "Okay, imagine that it's from someone you want it to come from."

Smokyland Sound Barbershop Chorus singing Valentines, orders taken 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily through Feb. 13 at 573-9381,