By Frances Marion Givhan
On Valentine’s Day, the Key of D a cappella group traveled around campus to serenade members of the university. The group beautifully arranged renditions of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” Jesse McCartney’s “Beautiful Soul,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” to sing to significant others or friends. Ryan Mahan (C’19), Keenan Lo (C’19), and Jones Bell (C’19) sang the solos, respectively. In one case, the Key of D even sang to one of their own members.
According to current Key of D president Will Burton-Edwards (C’18), the idea of singing Valentines has been an idea since Key of D’s beginning three years ago. He first heard of it last year when Max Hagan (C’16), the co-founder of Key of D, brought it up. This year, the boys ended up singing to seventeen people in locations ranging from St. Luke’s to the Sewanee Inn to the Tennessee Williams Center. “The reactions we got were always positive,” says Burton-Edwards. “I honestly didn’t expect people to take this so well, but apparently people like being serenaded on Valentine’s Day.”
One of the lucky, unsuspecting people to whom the a cappella group sang was Gracie Gibson (C’17), during her shift at the Writing Center. “I had just finished a take home quiz the moment Key of D came in,” says Gibson. She had no idea that her boyfriend, fellow writing tutor Grayson Ruhl (C’17), had gotten her a singing Valentine, but had actually contemplated getting him one. “Not only was I impressed by his thoughtfulness, but I was genuinely blown away by how great the Key of D sounded.” The song choice of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was particularly “on point,” says Gibson.
A sweet moment occurred during the day when the Key of D found time to go to Smith and surprise Mahan’s girlfriend. According to Burton-Edwards, the group gathered around the door, let Mahan knock, and then sang the song in which he had a solo. “She couldn’t stop smiling!” says Burton-Edwards. “It’s one of those moments that we live for. It all pays off when we can make someone smile so brightly and so genuinely.”
Hagan received a sweet surprise, as well, at the end of the long afternoon of singing. The Key of D sung to a blushing and smiling Tori Hinshaw (C’19) in the lobby of Guerry, with Lo on his knees, serenading her with Jesse McCartney. “To be completely honest,” says Hinshaw, “it’s kind of been a fantasy since fourth grade to have someone sing Jesse McCartney to me.” After Lo fulfilled her fantasies, Bell took a rose and looked toward her friend, sitting ready to film the proceeding song, but at the last second, turned to caress Hagan’s face and sing the first note of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
“It was definitely weird being on the other side of the song,” said Hagan, who vacillated between glaring at his Key of D brothers and hugging Bell. “It also made me really excited to see how far along the group has come since my freshman year. I got a little emotional, I’ll have to admit.”
Burton-Edwards feels hopeful that the singing Valentines will become a tradition for the Key of D. “Unless the guys kick me out, I have two more years with this group, and with this year’s success, I think we really can make this an annual thing.”
Photo by Colton Treadwell