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Show your sweetheart you care with a 'Singing Valentine'

He doesn't look like Cupid, but Stone Mountain Chorus representative Bill Banks will be responsible for a lot of love-struck smiles this Valentine's Day. Once again, the Stone Mountain Chorus will be fielding quartets of gentlemen dressed in red to serenade lucky recipients of "Singing Valentines."

"A Singing Valentine is a lot better than a box of candy," said Banks, a relative newcomer to the chorus. He explains what the Singing Valentine entails.

"We arrive and hand the recipient a rose and a card. Then we sing two songs. One of them will be 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart,' and the other will be 'The Song of the Rose.' All of this for only $50."

Those wishing to bestow such a lovely gift on their sweetie need to call 678-985-8818. Then select a four-hour time slot between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Valentine's Day and provide the address of the recipient. If the time slot needs to be more specific, a two-hour window costs $70 and a one-hour window runs $90, but it can happen, according to Banks. There will be six quartets at large, traveling all day Feb. 14.

"All of our singers tell me that the Singing Valentines are a joy to do," Banks continued. Bill has found some joy himself, discovering the Stone Mountain Chorus just this past September. "I sang for many years as a part of the 'Squares of Bucks' Chorus in Pennsylvania. My quartet was called the 'Key of E.'"

After he was transferred to Atlanta as an employee of Macy's in 1988, he quit singing for 20 years. This past September, he discovered the Stone Mountain Chorus through the recommendation of a golf buddy. The quality and enthusiasm Banks found at the Stone Mountain Chorus impressed him so much he joined right away.

"I think the Stone Mountain Chorus is fantastic. Our director, Drew McMillan, is the best in the country. I have been involved in barbershop choruses for 20 years, but this is the best I've ever heard. Drew McMillan is not only a wonderful director, but a great educator. We always learn something every rehearsal, and the sound of the chorus is just wonderful."

The chorus also knew a good new member when they saw one. Banks joined and has already found himself in charge of the Singing Valentines. He is also an enthusiastic advocate for the group, which invites interested singers to join.

"If you can hold a tune and love to sing, we can teach you whatever else you need to know," Banks said.

To order your Singing Valentine, call 678-985-8818. For more information, visit www.stonemountainchorus.org.

- Additional information about the Gwinnett Philharmonic Instrument Petting Zoo:

If you and your family are planning to attend the instrument petting zoo on Saturday at the Children's Museum, please be advised that the times for this event are before the concert from noon to 12:30 p.m. and again after the concert at about 2:10 to 2:40 p.m.