A song for the asking

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By Stephen Knapp

With all due respect to the sentimental versifiers at Hallmark, an off-the-shelf greeting card can’t always adequately convey one’s true love and/or esteem. But Vicki Wind can, and then some.

Not long off the boat from Scotch Plains, N.J., Wind is the brains, bard and bawl behind All About Fun Singing Telegrams, an alternative to the generic office birthday card or sappy holiday greeting. For prices starting at $75, Wind will don one of several wacky costumes and deliver a tuneful — and custom-made — howdy to a friend, colleague or loved one.

“It’s not enough to just do a singing telegram,” Wind says. “It has to be personal.”

To that end, Wind provides a deliciously personal questionnaire to the thoughtful person hiring her.

“I ask things like where the person grew up, where they went to school, who their first girlfriend was, and what kind of trouble they got into as a kid,” Wind explains. “It’s all the background I need for a ‘This is Your Life’ comedy roast.”

Armed with what is, hopefully, some fairly sensitive information and a boom box, she then composes an original ditty set to some familiar and appropriate tune. For Valentine’s Day, for instance, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” is a maudlin mainstay, regardless of the lyrics. And since Wind’s business is All About Fun, she’s perfectly prepared to deliver one’s best wishes dressed as, among other things, Midnight Mary the bag lady, Chiquita the 7-foot banana, or a giant chicken capable of laying a treasure-filled egg. As versatile as her wardrobe, she can turn out a tune for any and every occasion, with one firm exception.

“I don’t do bachelor parties.”

It’s important to note that Wind isn’t some fly-by-night opportunist with a box of karaoke CDs and too much time on her hands. A call to All About Fun summons 28 years of singing telegram experience. Originally trained in chemistry, she started her musical business out of necessity.

“I’d just gotten divorced, and I had two children,” Wind says. “I needed a job where I could be there when the bus came. And I decided that, if I had to go back to work, I was going to wake up every morning and do something I love.”

As it happens, she got the idea right here in Colorado, during one of her frequent visits to her sister’s Evergreen home.

“I saw a story in the Rocky Mountain News about a guy who did singing telegrams in a gorilla suit. I thought, ‘I’ve been a monkey all my life. I can do that.’ ”

Returning to Scotch Plains, she bought a gorilla suit and went ape. Before long, she had almost two dozen people on tap to help her cover a rapidly expanding telegram trade. Then, after nearly three decades providing New Jersey with sweetly sung salutations, she got a call from her Colorado kin.

“My sister said, ‘How would you like to live in my backyard? The lot’s for sale.’ I’ve always loved it out here, so I bought the lot and built a house.”

It’s interesting to consider what Wind deems one of Colorado’s principal selling points.

“The people are different than they are in New Jersey,” she explains. “They’re just a lot nicer. In New Jersey, the second you get on the highway, somebody’s going to give you the finger. That doesn’t happen out here. I guess I was ready to be around nice people.”

When she left New Jersey, Wind effectively retired from the rat race, and she doesn’t plan to expand All About Fun beyond those gigs that she can comfortably do herself. The way she sees it, that just means more fun for her.

“It’s improvised, extemporaneous, and half the fun is that you never know what’s on the other side of the door,” she says. “If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

To learn more about All About Fun Singing Telegrams, call 303-963-6959 or visit www.allaboutfunsingingtelegrams.com.