The Sounds of America: Straight from the Heart

The Sounds of America: Straight from the Heart

Barbershop Quartet Sings Valentines to your Beloved

The Sounds of America Men's Singing Chorus is ready to sing its hearts out.

The group will offer a Singing Valentine Barbershop Quartet package for $45. The deal includes two songs — "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and "Heart of My Heart, I Love Your Truly" — a rose, personalized card, and souvenir photo.

The Valentine package runs Friday, Feb. 14, and Saturday, Feb. 15. Contact Bobby Scarlett at 703-968-7584.

The group sings "as if the message were coming directly from the sender's heart," says Scarlett, SOA's business coordinator.

Often a surprise, the Valentines delivered by the traditional Barbershop Quartet are "personal and uniquely romantic — sure to be remembered and cherished in years to come."

Patriotism runs deep in Bobby Scarlett. He is a Department of Energy retiree and former fighter pilot. A flag rests at half-staff outside his Greenbriar home in memory of the fallen astronauts. Scarlett books the group's events, including holiday shows, weddings, and corporate engagements for AOL and other local companies.

A nonprofit organization, Sounds of America has strong community ties, often performing at fund-raisers and nursing homes.

Spun off from the Alexandria Harmonizers, Sounds of America was organized in 1995, with world-class Director Dennis Malone at the helm. The now 40-member chorus led today by Director Tom Meier, has won championship contests at various levels. SOA is chartered as the Centreville, VA Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. SOA meets Wednesdays from 7:30-10 p.m. in the music room of Liberty Middle School, 6801 Union Mill Road, Clifton.

Scarlett's tenure with SOA began in its early years, when his wife Carol Ann saw an ad in Centre View for tryouts. Ever since, he has considered the group like family. One touching memory was when a Sounds of America member died in the Pentagon attacks.

"It was a poignant moment as we sang patriotic hymns like 'Amazing Grace' at the lieutenant colonial's Arlington National Cemetery funeral, juxtaposed against the damaged shell of the Pentagon," said Scarlett.

Sounds of America is currently recruiting members and offering a training program for those seeking to improve their singing abilities. Practice sessions help the group perfect their sounds, especially those of quartets, who sing in careful harmony. No experience is necessary. Males aged 18 and older are invited to contact Peter Baum, VP for Chapter Development, at 703-968-0230 to learn more about training and joining the group.

"We are looking for new members who will have the chance to help shape the group's future. The new leadership is trying to rebuild the chapter. This is a good time for new members to get in on the ground floor where they can assist with music and venue selection," said President Keith Jones, 53, a statistician with the U.S. Census Bureau residing in the District.

With an 18-song repertoire of patriotic songs, religious hymns, and other popular favorites, Sounds of America has pleased crowds from D.C. Mayor Tony Williams' Centenarian award recipients to audiences at the Babe Ruth League Baseball World Series in Purcellville. Typical songs include "America the Beautiful," "Bless this House," "Caroline," "Give My Regards to Broadway," and "The Star Spangled Banner."

Dr. Ivan Halfond, 54, an internist in Centreville, and resident of Chantilly's Poplar Tree estates, has enjoyed the creative and social aspects of the group. "The music is rewarding, as is the fellowship. It's a friendly group and a great place to meet people who like to have fun making music."

For more information about Sounds of America, including performance calendar and audio clips, see their Web site at