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The Hilton Head Barbershoppers say many of their performances bring people to tears.'
Take Valentine's Day, for example. On Feb. 14 each year, the barbershoppers travel around Bluffton and Hilton Head Island delivering "singing valentines" that locals order for their loved ones. '
"Every valentine we did this year, the women always cried, and a couple of the men got a little misty-eyed," says Kirby Sullivan, the barbershoppers' president and one of the group's lead vocalists.'
The group also delivers "sing-outs" for other occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries, and often gets the same response, Sullivan says. "It's a very emotional thing for people," he adds.'
An emotional response is the one they're looking for, the barbershoppers say, because their music isn't just about singing or being on stage. It's about connecting with people on a personal level, whether it's through delivering "singing valentines" or one of the concerts the group gives throughout the year.'
"We want to share the music," says Dick Tyrell, the barbershoppers' "sing-out" chairman and past president of the group who sings bass and lead vocals.'
The group of about 50 singers always includes an audience sing-along at its concerts, and the fact that the barbershoppers sing a cappella means there are no instruments or sheets of music to take the performers' focus off their audience, Tyrell says.'
"We intend to convey emotion with every song," he adds. "That's the reason we sing."'
And that's why "Sentimental Journey" is the perfect theme for the group's annual concert this year, which will take place at 8 p.m. March 11 and 12 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Sullivan says.'
Other vocal groups from the area, such as the Hilton Head Lighthouse Chorus, the Hilton Head Shore Notes and the Savannah Barbershoppers, will join the Hilton Head Barbershoppers for the show. Nightlife, an international champion barbershop quartet from Southern California, also will perform.'
The concert is a tribute to the big-band era and also will include other music from decades past, Sullivan says.'
The songs on the program run the gamut of musical styles, with songs from Hilton Head's history, traditional barbershop tunes, doo-wop, Broadway and big-band numbers.'
"It's my feeling that the audience here on Hilton Head is going to relate well to this pick of songs," Sullivan says. "People like songs they know, and they certainly make an emotional connection with songs they might remember from their youths. That's where the 'Sentimental Journey' idea came in; We're giving people a little trip back to some happy moments in their lives."'
After all, making musical memories is what Sullivan says the Hilton Head Barbershoppers are all about. '
He says the spirit of "Sentimental Journey" is captured best with a quote from famous playwright Ben Hecht, which will be printed in the show's program: "Old songs are more than tunes. They are little houses in which our hearts once lived."'
"That's what we're trying to get at with 'Sentimental Journey,'" Sullivan says.'
For more information, call 842-2787.