Eighty-year-old Greenbrae couple serenade residents at Marin Assisted Living Facilities – Marin Independent Journal | WHs Answers

It’s anything but quiet at Doug and Beth Slye’s home in Greenbrae. When they’re not listening to music or singing together, they practice the nostalgic duets they perform at Marin assisted living facilities. The 57-year-old octogenarian couple wears everything from cowboy hats to berets to scarves, and sing tunes that residents are usually familiar with, from “Hey, Good Lookin'” to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to “When I’m 94”. ‘, their playful version of The Beatles’ ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’.

While the retired duo started performing at Marin assisted living facilities a few years ago, they’re excited to be back after a pandemic hiatus.

Q How did you get into music?

beth: As a junior in high school, I joined the glee club and ended up in two lead roles. I loved singing, but being with a great director only increased my love for singing.

Doug: I started in high school in Evanston, Illinois. We had a glee club at the all-boys school and we won championships in Chicago. That was my first exposure to singing and music and I loved it.

Q After raising two children and retiring, how did you get back into it?

beth: Around 2015 I joined the women’s choir Wings of Song for a while and have enjoyed it for several years. I had the chance to join the Mayflower Chorus. It was just great fun and ended up being a breakout group called Fourth Street Beat, which has about 12 singers. We, along with a few other breakout groups, do our own special song or songs on Mayflower shows. Very fun, very rewarding. We also sing in assisted living homes and have also sung in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel every Christmas season.

Doug: I’ve been with the Marin Men’s Chorus for a while and had the chance to do a few little solos with them. I got the mistake of singing solos in China. We were on a tour on the Yangtze River with other tour companies and everyone should put someone to sing karaoke to represent their tour party. I was chosen for our tour party and when it came time to go on stage there was no one there but me. I was up there in front of about 200 people and I sang and I loved it. It was really fun, and it was instrumental.

Q How did the group start?

Doug: Beth and I performed in assisted living facilities with the choirs we were in. There was a musician couple, Steve and Eydie, who were very popular for many years and I started grabbing some of their songs and I said to Beth, “I think we could do this,” and we did. I was really encouraged by the fact that a lot of people don’t do this kind of music that way.

Q Having that enrichment seems even more important now in COVID times.

beth: We really saw that in people’s reactions. We all want it, something that is upbeat, fun, interesting and shared with others. It opens them up, sometimes they are quiet or shy but once we sing some of them come and chat with us.

Doug: We are the same age as the people we sing for. They tell us their stories. Some people used to be singers. A woman approached me at AlmaVia in San Rafael. She was 88 years old and had sung in various places including France. Really cute and very rewarding stuff. One time we were singing “Slow Boat to China,” the comedic version of Bette Midler and Barry Manilow, and this guy applauded and shrieked and said, “That was our song in high school.”

beth: Memory is always an issue as you get older, and that’s partly why we choose things we think they’ll know and engage with.

Q Where else do you like to sing?

Doug: We sometimes go to Belrose – they have open mics on Thursday nights – and test songs for them. And Marin Joe’s has a piano bar and sometimes we meet up with friends and we sing there. We’re always looking for opportunities

Q What do you love about singing together?

beth: It is fun. Making the harmony, sharing the music with those who are in the room with us, it just fits.

Doug: I think when you sing together it just develops a really good camaraderie. You connect on another level.

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