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Barbershop quartet belts for V-Day

They filed into the room wearing black tuxedos and red bow ties.

Thursday, February 15, 2001

They filed into the room wearing black tuxedos and red bow ties.

Voices rising and falling in barbershop style, they began to sing – and handed county recorder Sue Deeds roses and a card.

Mrs. Deeds was one of about 40 people in the Tri-State who received a singing valentine Wednesday, courtesy of their admirers and the Singing Kernels.

The barbershop quartet group, based in Ashland, Ky., undertook its fund-raiser with the same style, and fun, as it has in previous years, member Rich Spencer said.

It’s all for charity, too, Spencer said.

Most of the money the Kernels receive from their Christmas production at the Paramount, other performances and singing valentines goes to the Heartspring Institute where it is used in treating children with speech disabilities.

It’s a wonderful charity that speaks to the heart of the singing group, member Bill Gordon said.

Altogether, nationwide groups like the Singing Kernels donate millions each year to Heartspring, he said.

"It’s like our motto, we sing so that others may speak."

Spencer said he’s one of four members from Lawrence County – the others are Pat Brogan, Ralph Tyo and Dow Dunfee – and not only joined the Kernels for helping out their charity, but also joined for the sheer fun.

"I had always wanted to sing like this," he said.

Spencer worked construction for many years, which meant lots of travel and little time to sing.

"I never had the chance to do it until last year, and now I can’t get enough of it."

The Kernels, an active chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America Inc., formed in 1990. They meet in Ashland, but want members from all over the Tri-State.

The organization is trying to grow, and anyone can join for fun, singing and even competitions, Gordon said.

High school or college age, retired or working, all are welcome. The oldest member, from Russell, is a longtime Scout leader in his 80s. The youngest attends Ironton High.

For more information about joining, or a schedule of meetings, locals can call Spencer at 532-6250 or Tyo at 532-2550.