Mike Patterson was watching one of Dr. Bonnie Henry’s COVID-19 updates one day when he suddenly found himself composing a song for the B.C. health officer.
Patterson, a member of Nanaimo’s Tidesmen barbershop chorus, spent Valentines Day with his quartet Vintage Style delivering singing valentines like the traditional barbershop love song Let me Call you Sweetheart. As he watched Dr. Henry’s briefing it occurred to him that ‘Dr. Bonnie Henry’ has the same number of syllables as ‘Let me Call you Sweetheart’ and five minutes later A Tribute to Dr. Bonnie Henry was written.
Patterson then set his iPad on the work bench in his garage “because that’s where I had the best sound” and recorded a video of himself singing the song. He sent that video to the other members of Vintage Style – tenor Alex Grant, baritone Roy Sage and bass Glenn Harvey – challenging them to record their parts.
“The other three of them jumped on it,” Patterson said. “Within a couple of days it was back and forth and we were laughing on the phone getting it set up.”
The quartet’s audio and video was then edited together by Tidesmen member James Chappell and posted online and “it kind of took off from there,” Patterson said.
The video is the latest piece of Dr. Henry fan art. Over the past few weeks artists have splashed her image on murals and T-shirts and Qualicum Beach-based jazz musician Phil Dwyer wrote and recorded his own musical tribute, The Ballad of Bonnie Henry, featuring Gabriola Island’s Tina Jones on vocals and banjo.
“I think everybody’s concerned and anxious about the pandemic and how we’re all responding to it and looking for a spokesperson who can give us information and keep everybody’s anxiety at a manageable level and Dr. Henry certainly does that,” said Patterson, speculating on the doctor’s popularity. “She’s very calm and very forthright.”
Patterson said he’s sent the video to Henry’s publicly listed e-mail address.
“I haven’t heard from Dr. Henry except that at one point, maybe it was yesterday or the day before, she said during her remarks she’s been getting lots of positive feedback…” he said. “Our quartet admires the work that she’s doing and sent this little thing to her just as a gesture of affection and admiration.”