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Singing duo a favorite at area nursing homes
Dominion Post - 9/6/2022
Sep. 7—For over a year, entertainment duo Pam Lyons and Barry Wilbanks, who together form Pam & Barry Singing Duet, have been singing and dancing their way into the hearts of area nursing home residents.
Lyons and Wilbanks both have backgrounds in singing — Lyons performed throughout the area with local band A Touch of Country' for several years, and Wilbanks got his start singing with gospel groups throughout the southeast.
Primarily performing classic country songs by artists like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, the duo combines natural singing talent with costuming and a relaxed stage presence to make the crowd feel like they could be in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry.
Lyons' husband Bear manages the duo, and admitted that the nursing home shows began as an opportunity for them to perform, but they quickly realized they were so much more than that.
"It really became like a ministry, " Bear said.
At a recent performance at Stonerise care home in Morgantown, dozens of residents gathered in the common area for the show.
"This group is their favorite, " said Stonerise Activities Director Tammy Matheny. "Every time they do this we have a big crowd."
What sets them apart is the personalized touch they bring, knowing which residents like to sing, which like to dance, and what their favorite songs are.
"We've been doing it for over a year now, so now we know them all by name and they know us, " Lyons said. "Some even get their hair done and their nails done because they know we are coming."
Lyons and Wilbanks share the sentiment of the residents, saying the care homes are their favorite places to play, with some of the most rewarding performances at facilities with Alzheimer patients.
"We love singing to them, " Wilbanks said. "When they come in they look kind of lost but when they hear that music start, they come right back."
"Listening to the radio was a big thing back then, " Matheny said. "It's their childhood. It's those teenage years at the soda fountain. They may lose your name, but they don't lose the songs."
Many residents say it reminds them of going to dances when they were teenagers, Matheny said.
"Dating, marriage — they went square dancing every weekend. It was a normal thing to go to the fire department and square dance and listen to country music, " she said. "It's reminiscing. It brings back their memories from young adulthood."
Lyons and Wilbanks also have regular performances at the Carmichaels Activity Center in Carmichaels, Pa., and Sagebrush Roundup in Fairmont in addition to other bookings.
Wilbanks said they are happy to regularly perform at personal care homes "to sing to the people that are not able to go out and come to the community centers."
For information on upcoming Pam & Barry Singing Duet performances, visit their website pamandbarrysingingduet.com.
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